TV Review: ‘Killjoys’

Killjoys TV Review Syfy
Courtesy of Syfy

Syfy has put on a few too many dramas that are “original” in only the “new” sense, as if someone were having a sale on generic, vaguely sci-fi concepts partly underwritten by Canadian tax subsidies. Enter “Killjoys,” a tedious exercise in “Blade Runner” lite, featuring a trio of bounty hunters who roam the galaxy collecting fugitives on behalf of something called the Reclamation Apprehension Coalition. The name might sound like garbage pickup, but it’s oddly appropriate for a series this disposable.

Hanna John-Kamen is certainly alluring, if strangely named, as Dutch, a “Killjoy” (that is, bounty hunter) with a shadowy past. She works in concert with the wisecracking John Laqobis (Aaron Ashmore), who goes AWOL in the early going on what turns out to be a rescue mission to save his brother, D’avin (Luke Macfarlane), a former soldier plagued by wicked nightmares.

Since Macfarlane is featured in the splashy ’80s-style opening credits, it gives away nothing to say he’ll eventually turn the professional pair into a trio, while casting meaningful glances Dutch’s way.

Created by Michelle Lovretta (of Syfy’s “Lost Girl”), and produced by the company responsible for “Orphan Black,” “Killjoys” features some funny spellings and strange terminology, but it’s basically just an excuse to feature another dystopian vision of space, where the human heroes zip around in a spaceship instead of an SUV and shoot guns that go “Zap” instead of “Bang.” And while details dribble out over subsequent episodes regarding why D’avin is wanted and the training that made Dutch so dangerous, there’s such marginal incentive to find out that at least in this quadrant, those mysteries will likely remain unsolved.

Frankly, the only moderately ambitious thing about the show is the set design — immersed as it is in brownish hues and grunge — and even that feels borrowed from any number of sources blessed with more expansive budgets or simply a heftier dose of wit.

“We see him, we bag him, and we’re out,” one of the Killjoys says, explaining the way their missions work. At the risk of being considered a you-know-what, after sitting through a couple of episodes, it’s probably OK to skip the “bag him” part.

TV Review: 'Killjoys'

(Series; Syfy, Fri. June 19, 9 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Toronto by Mendacity Pictures and Temple Street Prods. in association with Bell Media and Syfy.

Crew

Executive producers, David Fortier, Ivan Schneerberg, Michelle Lovretta; co-executive producers, Karen Troubetzkoy, Jeremy Boxen; producer, Regina Robb; director, Chris Grismer; writer, Lovretta; camera, Michael Marshall; production designer, Andrew Stearn; editors, Michele Conroy, Michael Doherty, Jay Prychidny; music, Trevor Yuile, Tim Welch; casting, John Buchan, Jason Knight, Jenny Duffy. 60 MIN.

Cast

Hannah John-Kamen, Aaron Ashmore, Luke Macfarlan

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  1. ElizabethBG says:

    Excuse me, *clears throat,* do your homework on this show! It is basically a remake of a 1990’s Canadian show called “Bounty Hunter” with the main character’s gender switched (hence: DUTCH for the main character). “Bounty Hunter” is a cult classic scifi show and I for one am DELIGHTED to see this get another run with a higher budget and a new modern twist. Really… don’t just write a review without doing your HOMEWORK!

    • ElizabethBG says:

      Excuse me, *clears throat,* do your homework on this show! It is basically a remake of a 1990’s Canadian show called “StarHunter” with the main character’s gender switched (hence: DUTCH for the main character). “StarHunter” is a cult classic scifi show and I for one am DELIGHTED to see this get another run with a higher budget and a new modern twist. Really… don’t just write a review without doing your HOMEWORK!

  2. ElizabethBG says:

    Oh heavens you are just trashing the show to trash it. I LOVE this show. I love the premise and the action and the characters and I hope it has a long run.

  3. wildbushdog says:

    I like the show. The main issues with the show is the audio mixing. The music seems to play to loud over the characters speaking. The second issue is it seems like more of the background should have been included in the opening show. To really set off a Sci Fi series you need a TV special that is 1 an a half to fill the viewers in on the background of the series. Then the show could really focus on the character development instead of trying to squeeze in everything in 45 minutes.

  4. Matt says:

    This has as much to do with Bladerunner as any cop drama would. It sounds like you were just trying to throw around sci-fi words to make it stick. The worlds bear no resemblance to the dystopic LA of Bladerunner if you had said Firefly then I would have nodded and said “good point” but Bladerunner is about as far from this show as you can get. Honestly this comes across as a lazy review that doesn’t even seem to pay attention to the subject matter.

  5. Greg says:

    Having watched all four episodes so far, I see nothing “Blade Runner” like about this show. No androids, no oddball hovercars or washed up detectives. The guns DO go BANG not zap. I have my doubts that this reviewer did more than half watch the opening credits, take a long cell phone call from his Mom about why he hasn’t given her grandchildren yet, then checked Wikipedia for the character names (one of which he spelled incorrectly. It’s Jon Jaqobis, not Laqobi). I wouldn’t call this show a theatrical masterwork, but, its not nearly as lacking or straight copy as he appears to have convinced himself it is. as far as it being a Canadian subsidy, well, it’s on SyFy, but frankly, in comparison to a lot of over-produced American weekly sci-fi shows, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. All in all, if you’re a science fiction fan, this is a decent show. Now, WTF is the name of the theme song?!?

  6. Ryan Jarvis says:

    Great show…this reviewer doesn’t seem to care much for science fiction shows based on how he seems to describe most of them, so ignore that and enjoy a promising start. It is better than Dark Matter, which I am also watching.

  7. twobells says:

    Shows you how much YOU know, seems that among viewers the show is preferable to Dark Matter. The ‘Dutch’ character brings much to the show and no, it isn’t just because she looks great.

  8. Kskiki says:

    I love it so far! Hope it sticks around.

  9. Syfy network. Such an odd name for this little channel owned by NBC Universal. I suppose I should give the parent company a pass on this one…who would ever tune into a network with a more HONEST moniker like; “RandomCrap” or “MiscFiller”?
    No one; I am afraid.

    See, here is my problem. You have a network that HAS put out some quality science fiction television programming in the past. Some of it, original, like “Eureka”, “Warehouse 13” and “Haven”. Some of it, not original, but honest to goodness Syfy deliciousness! Shows like “Battlestar Galactica” and the re-birth of the brilliant Syfy classic, “Doctor Who”. Then, they do what only Syfy network can do and that is sabotage themselves and whore their network out for advertising revenue; completely abandoning their Syfy name. Disgusting, disgraceful and a real turn off…LITERALLY. As in, turn off this failure of a network and watch some REAL Syfy programming elsewhere.

    So far, NBC Universal and The Syfy network have alienated viewers by cancelling shows that are still doing well in the ratings; in favour of new, cheaper to produce (don’t need to renegotiate the actors contracts) shows that are of lesser quality and a substance and sometimes, not even in the science fiction genre! “Eureka” would be a prime example of this.
    How about airing shows like WRESTLING but DROPPING the licensing rights for “Doctor Who”.
    So, let me get this straight…I can watch WRESTLING on the Syfy network but NOT “Doctor Who”?!!!! This was thought to be a good decision why?!!!

    How about “Sharknado”? Gee. Now THERE is something worth promoting on Syfy, right?!
    WRONG!
    I don’t see any robots, time space continuum issues or any other Syfy related theme going on there. If NBC Universal wants to make a quick, CHEESY buck with movies like that: air them on “Chiller” or NBC proper. Not Syfy.

    Which brings me to my personal pet peeve; SyFy’s complete lack of understanding of what their viewers want. Take “Haven” for example. Here is an ORIGINAL show that’s entire (growing, at the time) fanbase, was created SOLELY by the fans. Every Friday night at 10pm, US and Canadian Havenities would take to Twitter and we’d TAKE IT OVER. We’d trend EVERY WEEK. We grew that show from NOTHING. So what did Syfy do to reward us? At the height of “Haven’s” popularity (season 3) new writers and show runners decided to CHANGE the direction of the show. Viewership started to decline. Instead of listening to our pleas to put our show back on course; even after the network ACKNOWLEDGES the FANS saved it after season 4, Syfy did what it does best…delivered “Haven’s” execution papers.
    They put it in a death time slot and potted it against Thursday night football on the US. They also made sure it would not air at the same time as our brother and sisters in Canada on Showcase.

    The final insult? Our “supersizes” 5th season. EVERYONE knows what that was really about. If “Haven” went past 5 seasons, the actors would have a chance to renegotiate their contracts. Rumour has it, that ONE actor in particular wanted a LOT more money for his role on the show.

    Syfy doesn’t like to pay out to their actors. Or their shows.
    Or just about anyone but their executives, or so I have heard.

    So, for shame on Syfy Network and NBCUniversal for daring to call themselves anything but a variety network.
    When what they REALLY are. Is a disappointment to science fiction fans EVERYWHERE.

    • Greg says:

      Isn’t this supposed to be about “Kiloljoys” not “Haven”? Sorry, I like “Haven”, but this is reviews/comments about a different show. Or at least comments about the reviewers comments… more than just offtopic, you just went off.

    • Havenfan says:

      I always had a bad gut feeling about Syfy over the past years when I noticed them adding shows that in no way connect to what sci-fi really is. It’s nice to know someone else noticed the same thing. I’ll never forgive them for getting rid of and alienating truly high quality, popular shows such as Eureka, Dr. Who, and Warehouse 13. And I’ll never be ok that they changed Haven’s time slot before season five began when there was NOTHING wrong with it in the first place.

      • Mark says:

        Did Syfy really drop Doctor Who, or did the BBC not offer them Season 2, using the show to boost BBC America instead?

  10. Having only seen the first episode, it is hard to see what quality the series as a whole will have. The episode may seem as generic, however, the uniqueness is truly given in the characters and the plot. There were at least one point which subtly included which could turn into a cross episode plot:

    SPOILLER POINT TO FOLLOW:

    SPOILLER POINT TO FOLLOW:

    SPOILLER POINT TO FOLLOW:

    Note that the first assignment which which brings these questions: Who would give an assignment to a team of an agent who doesn’t take death assignments and the target’s brother? Then exonerated by the trade off the team comes develops. To me this screams of a set-up. But by whom and for what reasons?

  11. nerdrage says:

    “Generic, vaguely sci-fi concepts partly underwritten by Canadian tax subsidies,” isn’t that SyFy’s mission statement?

    But it’s not all bad. Twelve Monkeys is a terrific show and The Expanse looks like it could be a winner. As for the rest, if SyFy makes it easy for me and throws them up onto Netflix streaming, I might bother to check them out sometime.

  12. Matthew the Wayfarer says:

    Variety critic? As with all critics you are an ignorant A-hole. Watched the episode 3 times so far and just love it. Just another genre hater. Go f*ck yourself!

  13. John Marks says:

    I just saw the first episode of “Killjoys”. The show did drag in places and the sets, contrary to the Variety review, are somewhat stock for science fiction. The show has some potential if they can flesh out the characters enough to be compelling. In this age of the “Bachelor”, “Big Brother” and other scripted, so called reality shows, this is a refreshing throw back to the TV of yesteryear. I am not as negative as the Variety critic on the show, but it does need speed things up.

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