Here are two shows that might be worth your binge-watching time:
Killjoys on SyFy Now
When it comes to SyFy’s recent explosion of original programming, I have been such a pop culture snob. How can any channel that spells sci-fi as “syfy” and coasts off the dubious success of the Sharknado franchise be taken seriously? Sure, SyFy was once the channel that aired Battlestar Galactica, but that doesn’t mean anything to me since I watched that show entirely through Netflix. Plus, they canceled Alphas and Defiance. Boo!
At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself. Truthfully, my reluctance to sample SyFy’s relatively recent shows (e.g., The Magicians, Killjoys, Dark Matter, Wynona Earp, The Aftermath, Incorporated and The Expanse) has been due to laziness, not snobbery. There’s just been so many of them, and they tend to clump together in my mind (e.g., all of the space operas over here, the book adaptations over there). Plus, the awesome science nerds over at io9 always seemed to have mixed feelings about each new show. Good luck if you wanted to catch up with prior seasons since the streaming right have been scattered to the wind (e.g., The Expanse is on Amazon, 12 Monkeys on Hulu, Magicians and Dark Matter on Netflix). Even SyFy’s own cable subscription-required streaming app SyFy Now has a wildly inconsistent number of episodes available per show. This overall streaming conundrum is likely due to the way SyFy licenses most of its shows from Canada.
As such, for the longest time I’ve had a vague curiosity about Dark Matter and Killjoys, two separate space operas which premiered together in the summer of 2015, yet I barely knew which was which. For the record, Dark Matter is about a group of people waking up on a spaceship and realizing they all have amnesia, and Killjoys is a tale of three bounty hunters pursuing people or things (or both, depending on what the warrant calls for) throughout a four-planet system called the Quad. If it’s easier for you to think of this way, Dark Matter is the one which stars a bunch of actors you’ve probably never heard of before whereas Killjoys has Aaron Ashmore, aka, the Ashmore twin who was in Smallville and Warehouse 13, not the one who was in X-Men and The Following.
Due to my familiarity with Ashmore, I gave the Killjoys pilot a chance (there are two seasons with a third on the way later this year), and I knew I was in good hands when the cold open included a Whedon-esque twist on genre convention involving a bad guy assuming leadership roles based on gender. He foolishly mistakes Hannah John-Kamen’s Dutch to be a meek female underling he can use as leverage against Ashmore’s captured Johnny Jaqobis when in fact she’s a one-woman weapon you really shouldn’t fuck with.
After that, I lost an entire day to escaping into Killjoys season 1’s intoxicating mixture of Firefly and Guardians of the Galaxy, with any of the rough edges of the early episodes (must every fight scene have a peppy rock song accompaniment? was that close-up of that one girl’s ass really necessary? how many hairstyles can John-Kamen through in one episode?) perfectly sanded off by the end of the first season as the series gradually builds up its word and reveals hidden depths. What initially appears to be a fun, light series about a nuclear family of tight-knit bounty hunters (Dutch and Johnny are quickly joined by Chris Evans clone Luke Macfarlane as Johnny’s long lost brother D’avin) gradually gives way to various conspiracies involving the nefarious actions of the Quad’s elites and Dutch’s increasingly more mysterious background.
And I am absolutely hooked, so hooked, in fact, that I looked up a couple of Killjoys fan podcasts and learned that the show’s creator, Michelle Lovretta, previously created Lost Girl. Speaking of which…
Lost Girl on Netflix
This is the SyFy show about a Jessica Jones-style superhero named Bo Dennis (Anna Silk) whose superpower is sex. To be more specific, Bo is a succubus who can instantly arouse and thus control people with a mere touch. She’s also filled with an insatiable need to feed off of people by consuming their chi through sexual contact, usually visualized as her sucking a blue energy out of her victim’s mouth.
This all translated into plenty of SyFy commercials which more or less amounted to “This week on Lost Girl, Bo has kinky sex…again. Oh, look, here’s her kissing a girl. Wait. Now she’s kissing a boy. Sorry. Excuse me. Now she’s kissing both a boy AND a girl AT THE SAME TIME!”
Frankly, I simply thought Skinemax had migrated north to SyFy. However, I had never seen an episode before, and based off of Killjoys I finally gave Lost Girl show a chance, sampling the first three episodes (the entire series is on Netflix). It is as silly as it sounds, but it’s also fully aware of that, allowing both Bo and her best friend Kenzi (Ksenia Solo) to react with the appropriate level of disbelief at the insanity surrounding them. This is because when we first meet Bo in the pilot she’s unaware of the true nature of her existence and the way it ties into an entire underground of other people with abilities (think of her as an older, more world-weary version of Rogue in the first X-Men movie).
I can definitely see Michelle Lovretta’s Killjoys playbook at play. Both shows, for example, have traits of the hero’s journey just with a female (Dutch, Bo) instead of male hero, Plus, they both introduce us to a fun, silly world before gradually circling out to reveal conspiracies to be solved and entire new worlds to be explored. Unlike Killjoys, though, I have a sense that Lost Girl could all fall apart at any moment, but three episodes in everything still seems fairly promising.
What about you? What did you watch this weekend?