Yeah, I know. I’m reviewing summer television as if it was something someone put an ounce of actual, honest, thought into writing. Here’s the thing, boys and girls, I’m in a weird headspace of hating pretty much everything I write lately. The situation is not improved by the fact that I was approached by, and rejected, yet another writing gig where they liked my work but couldn’t afford to pay me. I’m left feeling wholly mediocre as a writer and contemplating if all of my “success” isn’t a pile of self-delusion. Until such time as I can write myself out of wondering what the point of me is as a writer, I’m going to let the world lob some softballs across my plate.
Now who wants to see me sock a few dingers?
If I could summarize Killjoys’ first hour in two words, I would use the words below average. The episode’s first act had some great momentum, but it quickly fell flat on its face. Part of this stumble is due to the writing’s refusal to trust the audience to figure out the in medias res cold opening. With the initial gusto of bounty hunters bringing space criminals to justice – not exactly a brain buster in terms of concept – giving way to back peddling and exposition, the episode got stuck in the mud of explaining things I already figured out. Killjoys doesn’t help its cause by offering some stunningly bad expository dialogue. For example, the ominous company that runs the “quad system” is actually called, “The Company”.
Or how about when the bad guy said, “That ship cost me 90,000 joy.”
Are you butt-fucking-kidding me?
Visually, the series looks quintessentially Canadian i.e. cheap. I haven’t seen this many green screen shots since Attack of the Clones. Likewise, the CG is on par with what one might expect from the early 2000s. When we are finally treated to some physical props and sets, the frame is usually jumbled with literal garbage. I’m not sure what sort of aesthetic the series is playing at beyond, the future looks like wherever we could get permits to film.
Add to this, Killjoys suffers from some truly terrible camera work. It’s as if the cinematographer and director, fresh out of their first year of film school, set out to capture the style of House of Cards. Alas, their attempts to be artful with the camera are weird and alienating. The style makes me acutely aware of the fact I’m watching a show that insists on trying too hard. Heaping insult upon injury, Killjoys embraces a love of J.J. Abrams’ go to move: lens flare. So much lens flare. Haven’t we moved past the age of lens flare being a cool? I thought Star Trek Into Darkness represented peak lens flare.
The really sad part about writing this review is it puts me in a place to take a steaming dump on a series featuring a “strong female characterTM” who also appears to be a person of colour. For bonus points, series lead Hannah John-Kamen is playing a character who isn’t a sex object.
Televised science fiction is notoriously bad at putting women in command roles. I salute Killjoys for being progressive, but good casting doesn’t mean I’m going to give poor writing and lousy technical values a pass. So help me I’ve seen dozens of web series with a better eye for production than Killjoys.
After one hour, the only thing the series seems to do well is convincing me it is set in an interesting world. There’s is a lot going on in the background of Killjoys, but the pilot episode hasn’t filled me with confidence in its ability to make the most of that world. Moreover, I doubt Killjoys has the chops to do well in the areas where it is wholly derivative of other works. Said works include Cowboy Bebop, Firefly, Space Rangers, Blade Runner, Star Wars, Mass Effect, Midnight Run, The Chronicles of Riddick, Freelancer, Wing Commander: Privateer, Hyper Police, and Battletech.
Out of the gate, Killjoys is a below average affair. It presents as the Jim Belushi of science fiction. It is common, run-of-the-mill, and rather uninspired. Though it is clearly taking its queues from the likes of Firefly, Killjoys doesn’t seem to be doing much more than the likes of Starhunter, yet another crappy Canadian science fiction show about space bounty hunters. Does nothing else happen in space?