Since the turn of the century, science fiction has remained one of the more popular genres, flooding the market with futuristic capers of all kinds. Sixteen years on, the market remains flooded and new ideas are becoming scarcer.
Killjoys is one of the more recent entries into the space faring adverture playground and, while it breaks no new ground, it’s lack of originality is more than made up for in fun.
It’s a CGI-heavy, gritty action series centring around three Reclaimation Agents – bounty hunters who are commonly known as “killjoys”. The trio of wise-cracking, ball-busting hunters and gatherers is lead by Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen), a tough former assassin who can fight as well as she can wheel-and-deal with The Company that runs that quadrant. Her partner in and out of bed is soft-hearted technical genius John (Aaron Ashmore), whose loyalty to her is only tested by his loyalty to family.
In the series pilot, John goes above his grade to illegally accept a warrant against his estranged, brother D’avin (Luke Macfarlane), who is an elite soldier suffering post-traumatic stress. Dutch chases John across the quadrant to aid him in what turns out to be a rescue… and the team of two becomes three forever more.
The characters are all well realised by the lead cast, although we’ve seen this combination of personalities, or variations thereof, a hundred times over. Their wise-cracking banter, particularly in the face of danger, can no doubt be traced back even earlier than Stargate SG-1’s humble beginnings in 1997. That’s not to say it’s bad, not by any means, but the predictability of reactions and relationships makes Killjoys Season 1 little more than fodder for undemanding minds.
As a stylistic choice, most of the CGI is made to look as realistic as a modern cartoon. The scale of it all, and the sets themselves are all impressive, but it never feels real. We’re always reminded by the grander visuals that this is fantastical fiction.
With an emphasis on fun, the biggest credit to the pilot episode is the promise of things to come over the 10-episode season. We meet mysterious people who we know are going to return; monks who lead a resistance; the illusive Company that runs the quadrant; and faces from the past who harbour their own mysteries. Killjoys promises to evolve into something much more complex than just a bad-guy-of-the-week scenario and, with season 2 starting this month in the USA, it seems this fodder is satisfying a lot of viewers hungry for more.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 6
Killjoys Season 1 will be released on Blu-ray and DVD from 7 July 2016. Bonus features include a gag reel and deleted scenes.