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.