SyFy’s Dark Matter Promising Space Opera [Update]

Anthony Lemke as Three

It has been pointed out that in the last part of this article two characters had been “mixed up” and that has been corrected. Number One is now referenced correctly in the plot breakdown. Apologies to the creators and the actors concerned.

SyFy’s newest offering, three episodes in, is a promising sort of space opera called Dark Matter that features the splendid Jodelle Ferland (and if you don’t know who she is, check out Case 39; it explains everything and if still in doubt check out her brilliant cameo on The Cabin in Woods) along with Zoie Palmer (Lost Girl, Patch Town) and is the from the creative minds of Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie both alumni of the Stargate verse.

Thus far the series feels like a mash up of several different shows and genres. A hint of Firefly, a touch of Alien Resurrection, a taste of The Magnificent Seven and a tiny bit of Identity…maybe and a large dollop of Farscape…definitely. In the first episode a disparate group of people wake up from stasis when the space ship they are on malfunctions. None of them know who they are or why they are there. Until their memories return, they refer to themselves as numbers, based on when they woke up.

In a short time all the players, one through six, seven including the android, reveal that their minds have been swept clean but not their personalities and soon the group begin to meld as a team, with the exception of two members. They all learn that before waking up with a “clean slate” each number in the group was a murderer, pirate and severe lawbreaker. The only exceptions are the android (Palmer) and Five (Ferland); who cannot be found in the fractured ship’s data base.

By the second episode, the show moves from mystery to action when the group decide to help a group of miners who they were originally meant to kill. Apparently the members were part of a mercenary team hired to take care of the planets independent miners and the memory wipe enables the killers to swap sides and fight for good. With the exception of Three (Anthony Lemke) all of the former criminals seem to be pretty decent.

As the group engage in a prolonged shootout with the big corporate baddies who want to kill off all the miners and take over their company, One, brings in another company to compete for against the evil corporation and the battle is over.

Jodelle Ferland as Five
Five in the ducts…

Episode three begins with a young teen boy’s body being found in the storage area by Five, who is visibly shaken by the incident and the group learning that the girl apparently has all their memories in her head. She accesses them via her dreams and one of her recollections includes a reference to the ship being sabotaged. While the group are taking in this information, the ship drops out of FTL and is placed in a high gamma radiation area which endangers them all.

The android risks her “life” to save the ship and crew and One and Six risk their lives to rescue the “robot” from outside the hull. By the end of the show, another element of surprise has been introduced, One, is apparently being chased by his former self. The question now seems to be whether or not all the numbers have a “doppelgänger” and if so, why?

Each of the characters have distinct personalities and while some are a bit of a stereotype, they are portrayed with enough depth to make them all interesting. Ferland, as Five, is the wild card, and Android is the Joker in this abbreviated deck. Five solves puzzles, compulsively and obsessively. The robot provides humor (in a Joss Whedon sort of way; think Cordelia or Anya or even Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as well as fitting the gravity boots of Winona Ryder’s Annabelle Call.

This is a promising new show and one that already keeps the interest level high and has the viewer trying to guess where the series will go from this excellent beginning. Dark Matter airs Fridays on SyFy.

All God’s Chillun Gots Phones

It just suddenly occurred to me this morning that everybody (and I mean everybody) has got a cell phone (or mobile phone if you’re English or European). Not only that, but, a good portion of these people have got an iPhone. If they do not have an iPhone, they have some other form of touch screen phone that uses the Android operating system.

I do not have either an iPhone or an Android operated touch screen phone. But I do have a mobile phone, a BlackBerry if you must know (and if you follow my blog you do know because I did a post about it) and as I said in my previous post, it’s almost too much phone for me to handle.

But here’s the interesting (or possibly disturbing) bit. Did you know that when you take a picture with your iPhone and upload via Instagram that the picture is automatically “marked” with a location code? This code is a boon to stalkers, cyber and otherwise. In essence where you take your photos is where you are. Easy to track and find.

And after checking just now, I’ve learned that Android pictures that are uploaded to the net also have the location of the picture. I also found out that you can turn off the location code part of your pictures on both operating systems.

On another track, most phones have GPS capability. I know I’ve used mine to get directions from where I am at the time. Just another great little device that also allows anyone like say a stalker find out where you are; or more helpfully the police if you are lost or missing.

In case you were trying to find me, I’m right here…

There are other ways for people to find out where you are though besides the location codes on your uploaded pictures; applications like foursquare, for example, allow you to Tweet where you are at that particular moment. If your stalker (sorry I mean friends) miss you at your current location they at least know that you frequent the place and have a good chance of catching you there (pun intended).

I seem to have a real “bug in my ear” about these modern-day communication devices that everyone seems to need. Oh and while I am on about the communication aspect of mobile phones, I’ll just mention how easy it is for a third-party to listen to your calls. I used the word party as a reference to the old “party” lines that the phone companies used in the old days. A party line meant you shared your landline with a group of other folks who could listen in on your phone calls, just like the mobile phone. Sorry, I know I’ve mentioned that twice now.

It’s no wonder that I feel like it is still 1984 and big brother is not only watching but the nosey bugger is listening as well. Modern technology is pretty great, but it is also intrusive. Not only that, but I am sure that the government likes being able to know where you are and what you are saying. Terrorist plots aside, these guys must know the best gossip about everyone who is someone.

The thing that amazes me more than the ability to find and listen to you while you have this mobile communication device on your body is the “about-face” on the “safety” of mobile phones.

A scant 10 years ago, scientists were warning about the “overuse” of mobile phones. They went on record stating that the things emitted too much radiation to be healthy (especially for the young and the elderly) and that they were basically cancerous tumours just waiting to happen. Not only that, but they were bad for your ears.

Now I don’t remember exactly but I am pretty sure the tumours were not ear related but brain related and all the information they trotted out was pretty scary. It was scary enough that I remember warning my then young daughter about using the thing too much.

But wait a minute; no one is talking about how hazardous the mobile phone is any longer.  It seems that all those tumours and ear damage have disappeared. I could not figure out why until I had a major epiphany while writing this post.

Now that's not scary...much.
Now that’s not scary…much.

People do not talk on their mobile phones nearly as much as they text on them.

Presumably that is why the scare mongering over the health threatening mobile phone has diminished. Not because the government want to keep tabs on us. (Even though we know that they really do) It is because that scant 10 years ago, the prophetic scientists could not know that texting would bypass talking on these “dangerous” devices.

I have yet to hear of one person who has gotten a life threatening tumour on their index finger from prolonged texting.

So the mobile phone continues to be a necessity for everyone over the age of 7? Presumably it is because I have seen children that young (and younger) talking on one and carrying it about; again one of the handier aspects of the GPS thing. I am sure that these young consumers even text on their mobiles, the spelling should not present a problem since texting does not require one to spell correctly.

Sorry, I really do need to wind this post up soon or it will cease being a pithy comment on mobile phones and their ubiquitous existence in today’s society and more of a paranoiac rant on stalkers and the government keeping tabs on the world’s citizens.

Besides, I need to get my Blackberry instruction book back out; I can’t seem to get foursquare to work on it properly and my Twitter has lost its link and my Facebook app won’t delete my updates. I also need to take a couple of pictures with my camera and sort out the video camera as well. And while I am at it, I may just type a new blog post on my WordPress application…

Oh no! The keys are too damn small!

Life After Death…As a Robot?

Rhett & Link
Rhett & Link (Photo credit: rhettandlink)

I’ve just finished watching a very funny video on YouTube from Rhett and Link (very funny guys). My daughter had just watched it and wanted to show me part of it.

The title of the video was Live Forever Online. The bit that she showed me was about a website called LifeNaut.com. The whole premise of this website is to allow people to create “mind-files” that can be loaded into an avatar (online) or into an animatronic head that you can interact with.

The reason for all this? The ability to leave a “computerized” version of you, again in the form of an online avatar. This service is free. Presumably if you want the data loaded into an animatronic head it costs money. But which ever version you choose will give you the same result.

“Live Forever – Upload your Mind to LifeNaut.com”  this is the message that greets you when you google the site. When you click the link provided on the site you will see the site itself with, “Make a Profile     Build an Avatar     Connect with Friends” running along the bottom of the Register/Sign In page.

But before you register and sign in look at the bottom of the screen. On the lower right hand of the screen you will see the word bina48. If you click on this it will give you an in depth tutorial what a bina48 is.

In a nutshell, it is an animatronic head filled with a real person’s memories and thought processes. The aim is to recreate another you.

The idea behind all this “mad” scientist scenario is this: You can leave a ‘copy’ of yourself via avatar or ‘head’ that your loved ones can talk to after you die.

Okay, so far so creepy. But if you really watch the tutorial and read their statements, you will find that the ultimate goal of Lifenaut is to replicate a person (that’s spelt dead loved one) via a robot. A robot that thinks like you, reasons like you, talks like you, looks like you and is concious like you.

An android version of  a real person. If you’ve ever seen any of the Alien films you’ll know what I mean. So you too can be the model for an evil Ash (Alien) or the human ‘wanna be’ David (Prometheus).

The long term goal of LifeNaut is to marry up a computer’s Artificial Intelligence –  AI and a robot with your conciousness (or to be more accurate the above mentioned thought processes, memories, etc). Once this has been done, not only will there be an “immortal” you, but they are also hoping the this blend of machine and memory will develop it’s own conciousness. It will become aware.

Okay everybody, repeat after me, “‘TERMINATOR.”

Cover of "The Terminator [Blu-ray]"

All joking aside, the idea does have some merit. As my daughter just pointed out, “If it works, it may help us to understand more about the human condition or what actually makes a soul.” Smart girl my daughter.

Completely moving away from the Terminator style technology, I can’t decide whether the other portion of the program is a good thing or just creepy and weird. Yeah it would be kind of neat knowing that the loved ones you leave behind can chat “with you” after you’ve died.

It is also kind of neat to think that any future grandchildren or great-great grandchildren can see and hear how you talked. Although all the examples I watched on YouTube sounded like interesting variations of Stephen Hawking.

I also don’t think I will be able to partake in the free offer. I registered and signed up. I then took a picture to build my profile. I also answered 52 of 486 questions to give my avatar “my” personality. Then…nothing.

I don’t know what I did wrong, but my avatar won’t load. Period. Maybe I’m too ugly? Or maybe the picture wasn’t good enough. But whatever the reason, I couldn’t check it out today.

I may have to wait for my android to do it.