KILLJOYS Season One
More fun than it sounds
released OUT NOW! 2015 | 15 | blu-ray/dvd Creator Michelle lovretta Cast Hannah John-Kamen, luke Macfarlane, aaron ashmore
This Canadian-made space opera is a very pleasant surprise, overcoming its financial limitations and silly name to deliver a smart, engaging show. Its greatest asset is its central trio of “Killjoy” bounty hunters – one kickass woman and two very different brothers, both with conflicted feelings for her. Together, they motor a strong series arc, intriguing worldbuilding, and a show with adult depths behind the fights and amusing one-liners.
It takes place in a planetary system where all the characters are spacefaring “humans” (though so far it’s unclear if they actually came from Earth). Much of the show takes place around two moons. Westerley is a Dredd-ish urban setting of filthy alleys, dark bars and violent cops. Leith is a green farming environment, but with its own hidden violence under the pastoral surface.
The Killjoys are given specific missions, from mundane deliveries to terminating fugitives, and they’re supposedly independent of the authoritarian “Company” which rules this part of space. The show starts with two Killjoys, Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen), a highly capable fighter, and John (Aaron Ashmore), an ex-thief turned hacker who has a platonic, brotherly rapport with her. That gets disrupted when the two run across D’avin (Luke Macfarlane), John’s long-lost, estranged and hunky brother, who’s haunted by his spell in the army. After initial tensions, D’avin teams up with them, but issues arise – we doubt you need a diagram... Meanwhile, Dutch is haunted by her own personal ghost: an urbanely sinister guru called Khylen who taught her to kill.
Killjoys has blatant budget issues, with sets often looking like barely-redressed buildings; the Dredd-ish city looks more grotty than dystopian. But in fairness, the action also moves to more appealing locations, such as the palatial mansions of the show’s aristocrats. Another exterior looks like a Doctor Who gravel pit, but still proves effective in a strong episode about gutsy hunted women.
Less good is a fight in the first episode, where Dutch theoretically shows off her hand-to-hand prowess. It looks embarrassingly feeble, and the slow-mo and pop backing track reek of cheese. But the fights improve, leading up to a savage episode for the trio where things get horribly personal and believably threatening.
Generally, the stories are interesting and sometimes impressive in going to dark or surprising places to advance the characters (and often not in healthy ways). Notably, it’s a show about sexual dysfunction, with heroes who fear intimacy with anyone they actually care about. Or as a sisterly Dutch scolds John, “Stop being friends with everyone you sleep with – it’s just weird.”
If you missed season one when it first aired, better catch up quick: season two starts airing on Syfy on 1 July in the US.
For some reason, Passport Control wasn’t keen on letting them through.