Space Opera is Set for a New Dawn with Dark Matter

Syfy has set its sights on reclaiming the stars with this new series from two Stargate alumni.

By , Columnist

Images are courtesy of Syfy

Space opera makes a welcome return to Syfy in the US and Space in Canada this Friday with the debut of Dark Matter.

Adapted by creators Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie from their own Dark Horse Comics graphic novel, Dark Matter’s 13-episode first season is destined to be an action-packed mix of drama, humour and adventure in the mould of Stargate and Firefly. Any similarity to the former is not coincidental given that Mallozzi and Mullie have a long history with that franchise.

Photo_2.jpgThis Friday’s energetic first episode gets the series off and running by introducing the main characters and the mysterious circumstances that bring them together. In no time at all, they wake from stasis in a run-down ship to discover they have no recollection of who they are or how they got there. The script also drops some hints about the hidden talents that make each of the regular characters different before revealing that they are not the kind of heroes we’ve seen before in Star Trek and the first two Stargate series.

Particularly outstanding in the ensemble cast are Canadian actor Anthony Lemke, who plays a roguish hothead, and Melissa O’Neil, whose character assumes the role of crew leader. Lemke has an extensive portfolio of TV and film appearances but O’Neil had never cut her teeth on a TV show before being cast in Dark Matter. Seeing how she kicks ass, however, you’d never suspect she was a past winner of Canadian Idol and previously specialized in musical theater.

Photo_4.jpgAlso in the regular cast are Continuum’s Roger Cross, Marc Bendavid, Alex Mallari Jr., Jodelle Ferland and Lost Girl’s Zoie Palmer. Palmer looks the part as the ship's android and even at this early stage every other cast member also seems well suited to their role. Together with the impressive special effects, high production values and a script peppered with wit, this bodes well for the season to come.

Photo_1 2.jpgHere are five other reasons TMR was given for why you should tune in:

1 - IT'S CHARACTER-DRIVEN: "I've always said people tune in for the hook but they stay for the characters,” Mallozzi told us. "The twelve years I spent on Stargate, they enjoyed seeing the adventure, the visual effects and everything but when they would talk on the message boards, whenever there was discussion, it was always about the characters."

2 - IT'S ACTION PACKED: "You're just flipping through the script as fast as you can because you want to know what happens next and I hope that translates,” O’Neil said. "It's fast paced, action filled and there are lots of twists and turns. You never know what is going to happen and it doesn't feel formulaic. There's stuff happening in each episode but then there's stuff arching over the entire season that's really exciting.”

3 - THERE WILL BE TROUBLES AHEAD: "There is mistrust in every direction so there are fights, there are squabbles, there are betrayals,” said Bendavid. "It's a really a very dysfunctional family because these people shouldn't normally be together. Even if whatever brought them together in the first place made sense, whatever that things is has gone.”

4 - THERE IS A STRONG WOMAN IN CHARGE: "I think that she’s got a pretty well-screwed-on moral compass and she just wants everybody to work as a team,” O’Neil explained. "She's a bit of a hot head and where her past kind of kicks in it takes her over in a different way but when she wakes up from that she really battles with who she was versus who she would like to be.”

5: SPACE OPERA IS BACK! "I had a meeting in New York with Syfy and they were talking about going back to their roots, going into space, owning their territory because everybody else was trying to steal fantasy,” revealed executive producer Jay Firestone. "I had the graphic novel from the guys and I said this is exactly what Syfy wants.”

Dark Matter debuts on Syfy and Space on June 12 at 10pm Eastern.

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Michael Simpson is a freelance writer, editor, presenter, researcher, instructor, gadget freak and sci-tech consultant based in British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley. Formerly from the UK, he’s converted from tea to coffee and written and presented on film, TV, science, nature, technology,…

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