WARNING: Spoilers for Syfy’s Dark Matter
A cool new Syfy series takes off tonight. Dark Matter deals with what happens when a group of people wake up on a spaceship. They don’t know where they are. They don’t know who they are. They don’t know why they are on that ship. And they don’t know what they’re supposed to do next.
First Impression: A couple of our favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Angel episodes were “Tabula Rasa” and “Spin the Bottle” so this scary clean slate scenario is fascinating to us. The fact that most of the action takes place on a ship is simply a bonus. The cast quickly establishes a nice chemistry. Dark Matter has action, humor, mystery, character-driven goodness, and by the end of the episode it leaves us wanting more. Much more.
Series Synopsis: In Dark Matter, the crew of a derelict spaceship is awakened from stasis with no memories of who they are or how they got on board. Facing threats at every turn, they have to work together to survive a voyage charged with vengeance, betrayal and hidden secrets. Dark Matter features Melissa Oâ€™Neil (Broadway production of Les Miserables), Marc Bendavid (Bitten), Anthony Lemke (White House Down), Alex Mallari Jr. (Robocop) and Jodelle Ferland (Twilight) with Roger Cross (The Strain) and Zoie Palmer (Lost Girl).
The Creator/EPÂ Previews Dark Matter
Dark Matter is based on the graphic novel of the same name. For the spoiler-phobes out there, it might be wise to wait to see the show before buying a copy. However, for the I Heart Spoilers crowd, creator Joseph Mallozzi explained the similarities between novel and series in a recent press call. “If you read the first two issues of the comic book, it’s almost word for word — the first episode of the series. The issues — three and four — of the comic book are very close to episode two,” he stated. “But then, after that, all bets are off.”
Mallozzi’s goal involves dropping a lot of twists and mixing things up on a weekly basis. It’s his mission to keep viewers guessing. “I’ve always been a big fan of cable shows with twists and turns and surprises that always leave you at the end of the episode going, ‘Oh my God. I can’t wait until next week.”
Once the episode ends, he expects the conversation to continue on social media provingÂ that his drama is worthy of buzz. He hopes “you get to the boards or you go to work and it’s the first thing you talk about in the morning.”
Dark Matter features a healthy dose of intrigue, surprises, humor and action. But Mallozzi feels it’s the character-driven aspects that shine through big and bright. “It’s really about the characters and this great group. I’ve often said viewers tune in for the hook but they stay for the characters.”
At the beginning of the pilot, all the characters start from zero. And as the episode, and the season continues, viewers will see how they each react to thisÂ environment. They’ll witness their personalities develop in interesting ways. And they’ll probably question their decision-making skillsÂ at times as theÂ crewÂ faces everything from the mundane to the abnormal. Learning about theÂ charactersÂ at the same time they’re learning about themselves makes for compelling TV.
Mallozzi’s encouraged by the early feedback he’s getting. “One of the things that I was really heartened by was just getting reactions from people who watched the show for the first time. And they all respond to different characters, which is great.”
Going into the series, he wants viewers to be entertained and…on guard. Remember every little detailÂ because you never know when it’ll come back into play. “There’s going to be a lot of reward for the audiences who tune in,” he teased. “I mean, there was this one big revelation late in the season and one of the actors comes out and is like, ‘Wait a minute. Was that a hint way back in episode three?’ And I was like, ‘Yes.'”
Initially there are six indvidualsÂ who experience this rude awakening. Without much hesitation, they have to deal with their new blank slate of a reality. Right off the bat, they give themselves a name, which turns out to be a number. We talked to Mallozzi as well as Numbers 1 through 3, respectively, in a recent press call.
ONE (Played by Marc Bendavid)
SyFy Character Analysis:Â Charming but a bit of a goof, One (aka Pretty Boy) is the crew’s moral center, a guy who always tries to do the right thing, despite the odds stacked against him and no matter how unpopular the course of action. Sure, he screws up – but he means well.
Marc Bendavid on One: “My character, One, is really enjoyable to play, for me at least, because he is surrounded by people who have some kind of quick proficiency at something and he is sort of always falling on his face; like he always makes a mess of himself. You never see any malice or vindictiveness really in him.”
TWO (Played by Melissa O’Neil)
SyFy Character Analysis:Â The group’s defacto leader, Two (aka Boss Lady), is a master fighter. Determined, tough and more than a little headstrong, she is not the type you want to mess with – or disappoint. She can be cool and inscrutable and yet, at the same time, can demonstrate surprising compassion – the mark of a true leader.
Melissa O’Neil on Two: “She is smart and she is compassionate and she is so firm about her thoughts and her decisions. She doesnâ€™t waver much, and I respect that. And, beyond that, when Iâ€™m looking at the decisions that she is making, I agree with them for the most part as myself. So, I donâ€™t feel like itâ€™s too much of a leap other than she rocks a furrowed brow quite often.”
THREE (Played by Anthony Lemke)
SyFy Character Analysis:Â A true bad-ass, Three (aka Sunshine), is the flip side to One’s principled coin – which is why the two are often at odds, developing a (grudging) like-hate relationship over the course of their journey. He is a mercenary through-and-through, a Han Solo type, always looking out for himself. But he must come to accept the fact that if he’s going to survive long enough to reach the outer colonies, he’s going to have to learn to get along.
Anthony Lemke on Three: “He is impetuous and he says what other people may or may not be thinking but certainly what he is thinking that he shouldnâ€™t say. And itâ€™s a lot of fun to play that kind of character and especially within the context of a crew who, you know, each of us is so well-defined. To be able to play that role within this team is a lot of fun.”
FOUR (Played by Alex Mallari Jr.)
SyFy Character Analysis:Â Ever-stoic and a master of the blade, Four’s (aka Slashy McStabberson) cool, calm demeanor belies a ruthlessness that gives even his fellow crew members pause. He’s a man of few words but, when he does speak – just like when he fights – it’s with precise efficiency. A fierce and relentless opponent, he is also an equally loyal and passionate friend.
Joseph on Four: “Alex Mallari Jr. just nailed the part with an audition that was so controlled and nefarious that it just sort of blew me away.”
FIVE (Played by Jodelle Ferland)
SyFy Character Analysis: The mascot with a knack for mechanics, Five (aka Kid) also has some mysterious abilities. What first seem like telepathic powers turn out to be jumbled memories, but whose memories are they? She’s the kid with all the secrets and a propensity for getting into trouble. Easily bored, quick to mouth off, she is nevertheless a relative innocent amongst less savory company.
Anthony Lemke on Five and Six: “One of the highlights was the relationship between Five and Six. And in specific, there is an episode where Six has to enter into a type of realm that I wonâ€™t go into because itâ€™s a spoiler to save Five and thereâ€™s a moment â€“ and Five is (a little hesitant) to be saved.Â In that scene there â€“ I remember because we were shooting right next to each other…and I would run in between my takes to go watch the monitor from that scene between Five and Six. I mean, I love their relationship that they develop throughout the show and I think the audience, specifically those who have got kids. But, I think everyone can relate to that kind of relationship.”
SIX (Played by Roger Cross)
SyFy Character Analysis: On the surface, Six (aka Tiny), is a low-key bruiser, an imposing figure amongst a group of intimidating individuals. Despite the company he keeps, he is a man of integrity with little patience for B.S. Cross him at your own risk. Beneath the rough and tumble exterior, however, is a heart of gold – 14k, the softest! A surprisingly simple guy, his quiet confidence belies a fierce intelligence and philosophical nature.
Joseph on Five and Six: “The character of Six, played by Roger, becomes that warm benevolent that basically runs throughout the show. The character of Five played by Jodelle, you see that relationship with Six right off the top.”
THE ANDROID (Played by Zoie Palmer)
SyFy Character Analysis:Â In personality, The Android is more butler-like than your typical robot – concise, staid, yet surprisingly possessed of a subtly wry sense of humor. She is an indispensable member of the crew since she can exercise control over all the ship’s systems, an ability of which she isn’t shy about reminding everyone. An outsider among the ship’s human passengers, she is almost child-like in her earnest desire to fit in. Her character will grow and evolve through her interactions with her human charges as sheâ€™ll inevitably gain acceptance as a member of the crew.
Joseph on The Android: “The android is a reflection of the ship in a way. I think itâ€™s not an accident that he will be one among us who knows how to fly the ship and [Two], in a weird way, it feels like the ship is, in a sense, kind of mother to the crew. Â There are a lot of mysteries about the ship that we donâ€™t know yet, that we donâ€™t understand, and we canâ€™t quite compute how they influence and inform our personalities.”
Dark Matter airs Friday nights on Syfy at 10/9c.
Interview edited for space and content.
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