Oct 1, 2015

[TV] Killjoys: Season 1

Canada continues to kick some serious science fiction television butt with the release of Killjoys, and I'm not just saying that because it's a show about bounty hunters. Beyond that, it's just nice to see someone is trying to come up with decent genre entertainment and you have the likes of SyFy offering to co-produce shows like this since they recognize good ideas when they see them.

And while shows like Killjoys and Dark Matter aren't necessarily the most amazing or universally appealing shows on the planet, they're still good fun and they definitely have an audience. And we rather expect channels like SyFy and Space to help foster such shows and ensure that we continue to get decent science fiction entertainment.

And this show isn't too shabby and it has a charm of its own. It's still a little rough around the edges, but what show isn't during its first season, right? And the point of networks like SyFy should be to give these shows more of a chance than standard networks would in order to see things through and allow them to grow. And we all know how things tend to get even better as you get deeper into a show.

Synopsis: Killjoys is a Canadian science fiction television series created by Michelle Lovretta. The show has already been confirmed for a second season as of September 2015.

The show presents us with the concept of Killjoys, a special group of bounty hunters that owe no loyalties to any nation or race. Their oath puts the contract above everything else and they seem to have significant privileges when it comes to different jurisdictions because of their status as Killjoys. In that sense they're like special enforcers or maybe like sheriffs of the Old West, but ones that can still be hired. It all sounds classy, complicated and yet also none of those things. And the whole show is set in some sector of space known as The Quad.

In particular, we're focused on the pair of Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen) and John (Aaron Ashmore), who are Killjoys equipped with a a formidable ship whose AI, Lucy (Tamsen McDonough) seems practically sentient. But when John dashes off at the start of the series and takes on a kill warrant on Dutch's behalf. Naturally she's not happy to find out about this after the fact, but it makes sense once it's revealed that the contract was to kill John's brother, D'avin (Luke Macfarlane). And now they need to find a way to save him despite the kill order. And remember - the contract is all.

So the show has a nicely focused cast given the trio of Dutch, John and D'avin. Obviously D'avin quickly offers to get into the Killjoy game once they manage to clear him of his kill order (the spoiler would be revealing how they manage this). From there they take on a number of different contracts that help introduce us to the nuances of The Quad. But at the same time we have the question of the contract taken out on D'avin and the fact that he seems to be hiding what happened during his time with the military.

The whole concept of the Killjoys is a rather interesting one since it seems to be a somewhat romanticized version of your typical bounty hunter. The whole elaborate system of them being absolutely neutral and somehow outside the various governments seems like a lot of effort for what could just be mercenaries. And that whole notion with an oath and all that jazz does make it all sound more interesting.

Then you have Dutch herself, whose back story is pretty complicated. Various flashbacks littered across the episodes reveal the fact that she was trained to be an assassin since she was very young but the exact reasons for this are unclear. Then we have her old mentor / trainer / handler Khlyen (Rob Stewart).

It's not quite Firefly, but it definitely tries to play in the same arena. The limited cast helps make sure that the leads have a lot of opportunities for character development and more interwoven plot lines. They are a team after all and they all reside on the same ship so you're almost always going to have them on screen together.

There's a greater story world that I certainly want to better understand but we only get bits and pieces thus far. I hope the second season does more to further illustrate exactly what's going on and who the various factions are. It wasn't even super clear to me what makes the Quad the Quad apart from a few mentions here and there. Certainly an opportunity for the future.

Killjoys is entertaining and clever and times but not  necessarily Whedon-level funny. There's wit and humor but not quite the same camaraderie we saw in Firefly, but we have to given them time - they're still new at this. Thus the first season gets a good 4 last-minute saves out of a possible 5.

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