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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the comics-based Dark Matter is a tense sci-fi thriller set on a mysterious spaceship. The setting may alarm young viewers: It's shadowy and menacing with weird light and shadow; noises on the soundtrack are metallic rasps and unnerving echoes. Futuristic guns are fired often; there's martial-arts-style fighting including swordplay; and an android's hand is severed (bloodlessly) on-screen. Expect cursing such as four-letter words ("hell," "s--t") and gendered cursing such as "bitches" and "pretty boy," as well as some flirting and passing references to sex. Kids who love dark sci-fi will enjoy the show, but others may find it a bit of a yawn.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
At the opening of Syfy's series DARK MATTER, six strangers wake up on a spaceship with no idea who they are or why they're there. They name themselves after the order in which they wake. Fearful One (aka Jace Corso, played by Marc Bendavid), icily composed Two (aka Portia Lin, played by Melissa O'Neil), brash Three (aka Marcus Boone, played by Anthony Lemke), mysterious Four (aka Ryo Tetsuda, played by Alex Mallari Jr.), young empath Five (aka Das, played by Jodelle Ferland), and cheerful Six (aka Griffin Jones, played by Roger Cross) are slowly starting to put the pieces together, alternately hampered and assisted by the on-ship android (Zoie Palmer). The ship is on course to land on a nearby planet soon. Who's there? What's their business on the planet? And why are they under attack from unknown predators?
Is it any good?
Adapted from a fiercely beloved comic book, this series boasts a cool, innovative gimmick: The characters are as lost as new viewers. We're all figuring out together what's going on and all surprised by sudden plot twists and turns. The intriguing premise is matched by interesting characters, each with his or her own backstory that will slowly be teased out. It's all quite immersive stuff, with a few major flaws. One is the familiar character of Three, who's playing a classic sci-fi trope: He's Han Solo, he's Chris Pratt from Guardians of the Galaxy, he's Bill Paxton in Aliens. You know the guy.
The other flaw is the less-than-creative setting, all cramped corridors lit with strips of colored neon. Really? Presumably hundreds of years into the future and neon is the best we can find? Sigh. More tropes include women in revealing adventurer gear (hi, Lara Croft!) and computer systems pulled straight from every space movie you've ever seen. Dark Matter actually has an innovative plot; it's just that the creators have marooned stock characters and a clichéd setting within it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Dark Matter is adapted from a popular comic book. What other shows or movies were originally comic books? How is this show alike or different from the others you've seen?
What clues are you given as to the show's time frame? How do dramas communicate the year in which they take place?