Now that Game of Thrones and Orphan Black have both ended (both with a BANG I might add) I’ve been on the lookout for some new shows. One on my radar was Space channel’s new original show, Killjoys. The premise of the show itself was enough to catch my attention but the real reason it piqued my interest was the fact that it comes from the producers of Orphan Black, which I’ve followed religiously since I haphazardly discovered it last year.
To be fair, sharing the same producers isn’t quite the same recommendation as sharing the writers or directors of Orphan Black, so there is room for skepticism. Regardless, the producers are other key people involved in the creative process and I thought that carried enough potential to check it out.
A Promising Start
Aside from the Orphan Black connection, the elements that excited me are these:
- The protagonists are space bounty hunters, an occupation with huge potential for moral ambiguity. As I learned from the first episode, they have no citizenship anywhere and are therefore impartial when it comes to the politics of the space quadrant in which they operate. You can do SO MUCH with that on SO MANY LEVELS: plot, character development, moral politics, thematic elements, etc.
- A seemingly strong female lead, who not only knows how to handle herself and her weapons, but also takes charge within the group dynamic.
- A refreshingly non-derivative interstellar setting that didn’t overshadow the human element the way that a lot of sci fi tends to do.
The First Impression
Wondering what other people were saying about this new show, I came across this IGN review that echoes my sentiments pretty well, the main complaint being that the show seems confused as to what it is. Is it a drama? Sort of. Is it a comedy? It has it’s moments. But both the tension and the humour in the show is so half hearted that it tends to fall flat more often than not. The character development is there, but it’s failed so far to make me take a serious interest in any if the three lead characters. This actually surprises me because at least two of them have well thought out (if predictable) back stories.
Dutch is the veteran Killjoy with a strong conscience and tight rules about what she is and is not willing to do. The show has also slowly revealed that she was trained as an assassin in her youth but has worked to get as far away from that as possible, only to have her past catch up with her.
John is her quirky sidekick, always ready with a punchy line. At this point he’s by far the lightest and most innocent of the three main characters. The show has yet to reveal much about his past except that Dutch recruited him and that he has an estranged brother who has a knack for getting into trouble.
D’Avin is the afore mentioned brother who served as a soldier in an unspecified war and who seems to suffer from PTSD. He got himself into enough trouble to trigger a death warrant by the menacing “Company” (the government in this world). When we meet him he is serving as an indentured fighter on a slaver ship, from which Dutch and John rescue him.
The setting itself is compelling enough – a planetary system of four planets called the Quad, and individual space ships. There seems to be some political turmoil and a potential revolution in the works. So far so good. Except when put all together, it doesn’t quite hang together as well as it should. The relationship between the characters is unconvincing and the setting should impact the story more, but somehow doesn’t. It’s a little too much all over the place, as if it’s too self-conscious and therefore no element comes across as genuine.
That being said, there’s still the rest of season 1 left, and the show does have an abundance of potential. The execution will be what makes or breaks it. Tune in week after week as I break down the episodes!