Syfy Showdown, Part 2: Dark Matter with AJ Mullican

Hey AJ, thanks for this chance to help both our readers and myself hammer out exactly what Dark Matter is all about. Say I’ve never seen the show and I want to hear the elevator pitch before I dedicate my time to it. What can I expect?

AJ: Dark Matter is a science fiction space opera centered around a crew of six whose memories have been erased. With the help of the ship’s android, they travel through space trying to find answers to their pasts.

Dark Matter’s branched out in the past few episodes, but for the most part, everything seems to happen on the Raza. With the old adage being, “Location, location, location,” what makes this series different than say Battlestar or Firefly which are also primarily ship-based shows?

“Though the characters spend most of their time on the Raza, Dark Matter is more about character development and interaction than location.”

The Raza sports a crew of seven: the characters, One through Six, and Zoie Palmer’s Android. With so many protagonists, how hard is it to keep up with what’s going on on-screen?

“Each of the characters is unique, with different personalities and quirks. No two are exactly alike, and all of the characters look completely different. The crew members are incredibly well-defined and superbly acted; there is no doubt as to who is who.”

Dark Matter’s characters all seem to fit some sort of niche archetype. Would you say this is the case or do you think that this is simply what we’re being led to believe?

“As the show progresses, the characters definitely branch out from their initial archetypal roles and develop more depth and richness. They started out as blank slates, but with each episode more is revealed about their pasts. As the viewers learn more about each individual character, more nuances are evident that may not have been apparent earlier on in the show.”

We’ve gotten to see some interesting tech in Dark Matter. Can you talk about what sort of equipment the crew uses that makes Dark Matter stand tall alongside of its sci-fi predecessors?

“The biggest piece of tech on the show is the crew’s android, played by Zoie Palmer. Though other sci-fi shows have had androids and other forms of artificial intelligence, Dark Matter’s android is unique in that she, too, has had some of her memory wiped. She knows what the ship knows and what her sensors tell her, but beyond that she’s just as much in the dark about her true purpose as the rest of the crew. The android also begins to develop human-like traits, such as jealousy, which she initially views as a flaw in her programming.

Other types of tech that are seen on the show include a quarantine field in the medical bay, life support pods, faster-than-light engines, and a jury-rigged mental scanner that allows the character of Five to access some of the crew’s memories.”

What’s been your favorite piece of tech seen so far in the series?

“My favorite has been the second android on ship, played by Ruby Rose. The character only lasted for one episode, but she had such range to the role and was written in a way to add humor and emotion to the episode.”

I’ve heard fans say that Dark Matter is more grown-up than some of its comrades. What do you think it is that makes people feel this way?

“I think that, because most of the characters are written as adults, the show automatically takes a more adult angle. The character of Five is seen as the “kid” of the show, but her character has such a maturity about her that sometimes viewers forget that she’s not as experienced as the other characters. The themes of Dark Matter are also, well, dark. Secrets, murder, deception … these aren’t your typical Saturday morning episodes.”

Visual effects and sci-fi future-tech are all well and good, but what ultimately makes or breaks a show is the writing. What aspect of the series’ script do you feel keeps fans coming back for more?

“The thing that most keeps fans coming back is a burning desire to know more. Who are these characters? How did they end up together? Will they ever find out their true identities and their true mission on the Raza? Combine these with a shocking cliffhanger at the end of each episode and some stunning banter between the crew and you have a recipe for TV show addiction.”

What do you hope is one lesson people take away from watching Dark Matter?

“Your past doesn’t have to define you. It is possible to grow beyond what you’ve done before and to grow in newer and better directions. No matter what you’ve done before, you are the architect of your personality and the director of your life.”

Thanks Aimee for this interview! What I’m gathering here is that Dark Matter has some pretty big redeeming qualities that puts it on par with Killjoys and, at the same time, putting it into its own category. So what have we learned here? I’d have to finalize this by saying with each one having such a deep impact on the state of sci-fi right now, I think fans should be glad to have such a broad spectrum of shows to choose from.

Whether Killjoys is better or Dark Matter is better than each other or any other show out there really shouldn’t be an issue. Space may be the final frontier, but space is a big damn place and there’s room among the stars for both of these badass shows.

Be sure to check out the first half of this interview where I talk about Killjoys, and check out both shows as well, Friday nights on Syfy Network.

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