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Tell sci-fi fans there’s a TV series about intergalactic bounty hunters, and chances are they’ll leap for the remote.
Despite its tantalizing premise, however, Killjoys isn’t the space drama we’ve been looking for.
Syfy’s new show follows three agile, attractive killers as they fight, flirt and fire ray guns across the galaxy. The team includes Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen), a female soldier with a secretive past — though the camera prefers to linger on her formfitting daywear. Joining her are John Jaqobis (Aaron Ashmore) and D’Avin Jaqobis (Luke Macfarlane), brothers who fail to connect — despite their do-or-die situation.
Indeed, the word “connection” could sum up Killjoys’ myriad problems, starting with the frayed one it forges with viewers. As most fans of genre entertainment know, it’s essential to establish the rules of a sci-fi/fantasy universe early in the game: Who are these people? What are they fighting for? Why should we care?
Killjoys boasts slick outfits and action sequences, but the rest is pretty fuzzy. Characters are hard to define beyond their physical attributes, making them difficult to root for (or against). Though the show moves at lightning speed, the pace prevents it from conveying a sense of place. And admittedly, three episodes in, I’m still not entirely sure what exactly a “killjoy” does — or why.
Much is made of how Dutch and John “work together, live together … do everything but sleep together,” but given their lack of chemistry, it’s not a far-fetched notion. Even after D’Avin joins the duo in the pilot, the team still feels pretty incomplete. (As shows like Firefly and Orphan Black have taught us, doesn’t it take at least four folks to assemble the perfect Scooby Gang?)
Another issue is Killjoys’ uneven tone, which vacillates between wink-wink and dead-serious. If only it cranked up the campiness, the series just might work; for instance, scenes with a rogue monk and Lucy, a talking spaceship — perhaps the show’s most memorable character — beg for more Whedon-esque wit.
The forces behind Killjoys are sure to attract some curious onlookers. For starters, the show comes from Temple Street Productions, the Canadian company best known for the groundbreaking, mind-bending Orphan Black. Creator and executive producer Michelle Lovretta also created Lost Girl, Syfy’s sexy and supernatural hit, and the cast has appeared in other genre faves like Black Mirror, Warehouse 13, Misfits and Fringe.
However, it takes more than a few good ingredients to whip up a memorable dish. Killjoys sounds enticing at first, particularly at a time when sci-fi entertainment is thriving.
Unfortunately, its execution is more of a buzzkill.
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