Joseph Mallozzi talks about Dark Matter which can be seen Friday nights at 10pm on Syfy.
Dark Matter is based on a graphic novel published by Dark Horse. How much of the content from the graphic novel can we expect to see on the series?
You can expect to see all of it. Actually, the comic book was based on, basically, the pilot that we have envisioned. So, you know, it’s almost – you know, if you read the first two issues of the comic book, it’s almost, word for word, the first episode of the series. And in episode – the issues three and four of the comic book are very close to episode two. In terms of spoilers, you guys are going to get a sneak peek at episodes one and two by reading the first two issues of the comic book or, you know, as in the paperback. But then, after that, all bets are off.
For those who aren’t familiar with the comic book, how would you describe the series?
I would describe it as a sci-fi series with a cable sensibility. I’ve always been a big fan of cable shows with twists and turns and surprises, that always leave you at the end of the episode going, “Oh my god. I can’t wait until next week” and you get to the boards, you discuss them or you go to work and it’s the first thing you talk about in the morning. That’s the show I wanted to create.
It’s something that a lot of – a lot of setups but a lot of payoffs along the way, the mystery at its heart. It has a sense of humor, it’s a fun, ship-based sci-fi (fuse) which something, I think, fans have been dying for. But, at the end of the day, it’s really about the characters and this great group – this great group made up of this crew. I’ve often said viewers tune in for the hook but they stay for the characters. And we’ve got an incredibly colorful bunch of characters in this show.
There has been so many space dramas that have been done. Why do you think that this series is apart from the rest and what would you tell viewers to make them watch?
Well, it’s – first and foremost, it’s a ship-based sci-fi which, I think, differentiates it from anything else out there.
Tonally, it’s a lot of fun. I mean you watch this at the pilot and there’s more of that. I mean at the end of the day, I think the fans like to tune in for the characterS and just essentially to have a good time. And I think that’s what we’re going to offer them.
And at the same time like I said, I’m not sure how serialized the other shows are. But, our show is very serialized in that, I mentioned those twists and turns and surprises.
There’s going to be a lot of reward for for the audiences who tune in. I was developing this for so many years that we’ve got like a great game plan. When Paul and I and my writers sat down and developed the first season, we had all the setups and payoffs. So, I mean, there was this one big revelation late in the season, I remember, and one of the actors come out and it’s like, “Wait a minute. Was that a hint way back in episode three?” And was like, “Yes.”
When you said that this is a ship-based show, does that mean that there aren’t going to be going to various planets very often? Is most of the drama going to be actually taking place on the ship?
No. It’s going to be a little of both. I mean we have an amazing standing set and we’re going to make use of it. I mean as is the case with most of the ship-based shows like “Star Trek” or “Stargate”, or “Firefly,” the ship almost becomes a character in itself, and we have like an amazing, amazing ship. But, you know, we’re going to be getting off. We’re going to be visiting planets. We’re going to be visiting space stations. We want to avoid that claustrophobic feel. So, we’ll definitely be opening things up.
“Dark Matter.” What is that referring to? And are we going to see that be incorporated throughout the season?
I guess it’s a darkness that resides in all of us.
Can you tell us a little bit about the ship on the series and how it plays under the tone and feel of “Dark Matter”?
I think the ship is a reflection of the characters. I mean we wanted when the designers designed the ship, we wanted something kind of badass, kind of smaller – I mean, I describe it as almost like a – like a – like a little gold box, just retrofitted with weaponry. She has a lot of experience, a lot of battle scarring, but it’s the type of ship that you kind of look at—and easy to underestimate—but, in battle, more maneuverable, a lot more savvy. The hero ship doesn’t get the upper hand on ships because of its size. And I think that the ship is a reflection of all our characters who, you don’t know very much about them on the surface but, as you dig deeper, there is – there is a richness there and aspect that will surprise.
Amongst the “Stargate” fandom, there was a bit of a division between those who really like “Stargate Universe” versus those who thought its tone was a little too dark in comparison to the previous “Stargates.” Considering this is “Dark Matter,” would you say the show aligns a lot more with the tone of “Stargate Universe” than the previous ones – previous “Stargates”?
I want to say, basically, it falls somewhere in between because one of the things that “Universe” did so well is it dealt with kind of the bigger issues. In our series, there is a bigger issue of, for instance, redemption. You know, are people born bad? In that respect, it’s a lot like “Universe” in terms of tone and in terms of look. And yet one of the things that I know a lot of fans were missing on “Universe” was that sense of humor that really marked “Atlantis” and “SG-1.”
But, that’s what we have, it’s one of the biggest, I think, characteristics of this show, “Dark Matter.” It’s its sense of humor. I keep on emphasizing fun. And, you know, “Atlantis” was fun, “SG-1” was fun. Maybe some fans did not consider “Universe” fun because it was a little dark. It was a little slow to get going, more introspect, a little claustrophobic, which basically “Dark Matter” is not. So, “Dark Matter” is fun. So, I think for “Stargate” fans, if you love “Atlantis” and “SG-1,” I think you’re going to love “Dark Matter.” And, frankly, if you love “Universe,” you’re going to love “Dark Matter.” It’s the very best of all three shows.
What about the level and types of action viewed might be able to expect? Will the action, whatever level there is, be comprised mostly of ship-to-ship combat or hand-to-hand fighting or equal measures of both?
We do it all. There’s gun play. There is hand to hand. There is ship-based action types. First of all, I want to talk about the visual effects of the show. We brought in our guys from “Stargate.” Lauren Bancroft-Wilson and Mark Sevilla have been working through the atmosphere. And our show – our visual effects, I think, are second to none. We just ran a real efficient production. We put the money up on screen. And I put our visual effects up against any other show out there. They look fantastic.
The gunplay has been fantastic. We have a great stunt coordinator in John Stead, who coordinated some fantastic gunfights, for instance, in episode one or two which, hopefully, you will see sooner than later. It’s all unbelievable, A, because John Stead is so amazing but also because the actors are so amazing.
Obviously, in any production, story and great acting is at the top of the list. But, the call thing about genre, media and, specifically, sci-fi is the aesthetic, the look, the art design. And there is an increasing number of fans, you know, obviously interested in costuming and makeup, especially a lot of fans of Syfy’s “Face Off.” Are we going to see a lot of creature makeup effects and – you know, either as a recurring character or as a signature alien race that, you know, you’re going to encounter as you’re going to the different planets and star bases? Will there be a lot of that type of special effects?
In the first season, we are really more focused on this crew and their back stories, which is a little more grounded. As sort of – sort of the series progresses, we do make a little more use of that type of thing. And we do – spoiler alert for the cast – have kind of laid the groundwork for that kind of reveal in season two. So, essentially we are not, let’s say a “Farscape” that makes use of a lot of alien races. It’s – from the beginning, it’s going to be fairly grounded. But, that’s not to say that’s a region we will not be exploring fairly soon.