Review by C.J. Bunce
Dark shows have tended to monopolize new genre TV series in the past few years. We’ve been overwhelmed with underwhelming vampire shows, and not since Buffy and Angel have we seen anything in that category worth watching. The NBC series Grimm has been an exception, and that series keeps moving along without any bad episodes so far. Sometimes you can’t even get past the pilot of new series, and shows like Being Human, Terra Nova, Invasion and The 4400 move along a slow trajectory toward cancellation.
Overall the Syfy Channel has had a good showing over the past few years, with shows like Battlestar Galactica, Sliders, Warehouse 13, Haven, and the short-lived Dresden Files at the top eschelon of what the network has to offer. The series Alphas started off slow but showed some promise, but other shows were bombs from the start, like Caprica and Bionic Woman.
So when you do find a solid, entertaining pilot episode, it really stands out. Lost Girl is one of those pilots.
From the first scene, you hope this tall, dark haired woman is the protagonist, even though she appears to have just murdered someone, albeit in a very supernatural way, seemingly sucking away the soul or spirit of a villainous scumbag, like the alien visitor in the 1980s British movie, Lifeforce. She does it in part because she has a “hunger” and in part to protect a younger woman who has just been drugged by the man. We learn our protagonist’s name is Bo (played by Canadian actress Anna Silk), and her new, younger hanger-on is Kenzie, and although they could have probably used some better character names, Kenzie is plucky and funny, and even for a genre show they immediately come off as real people.
Kenzie is a pickpocket who immediately sees Bo for what she is, some kind of superhero, even if she is a murderous self-described freak. Kenzie’s dialogue is expertly written, and the writers amazingly know their characters from minute one. Both beautiful in their own way, Kenzie more Goth and Bo in a more Xena meets Wonder Woman Amazon princess looking way, Bo actually shows some vulnerability despite her powers as she engages in a question-answer session with Kenzie. But the full scope of Bo’s powers are only partially revealed in the pilot, as we learn she is also some kind of pusher.
A pair of cops show up on the scene of the scumbag’s death, and instead of being the typical oafish humans not-in-the-know, these two guys know exactly about the supernatural nature of the crime. Clearly these cops will be recurring characters and their odd looks and style quickly grow on the viewer as they seem to walk the line between a dark world and being outright good guys. We learn there is a world of supernatural beings called the Fae, and within the Fae two rival gangs that appear to be keeping the peace so long as their turf lines are respected. We learn from a mystical bartender that Bo may be some type of prophesied visitor. The heads of the two houses squabble little instead of engaging in a time-wasting battle as you might expect, and instead follow the “old rule,” where Bo must make a choice of houses after first proving herself in a battle to the death with two creatures.
Bo acknowledges she is entering into her very own Thunderdome sequence. Her confidence throughout the episode makes it credible that she can win these battles, the first a typical thug to outsmart, and the second a brilliantly concocted act of trickery. By herself, she cannot beat the second challenge. Luckily Bo brings with her the desire for others to like her, and immediately can garner loyalty or outright love from whomever she touches. The reason for this is because she is a succubus (for South Park fans, note that she is not as vile as the succubus that married Chef and tried to kill him). This succubus is pretty kick-ass, as female protagonists in genre TV is concerned. The episode never gets silly or campy like Buffy the Vampire Slayer did (a good thing for that series), but Lost Girl takes itself a bit seriously, giving you the idea the stakes will prove to be greater as the series progresses.
The production quality doesn’t lack anything, the sets and overall design and look are dark and slick, but not grimy or ugly. The women dress cool, and the guys dress stylish as well. The story elements are fresh and original, and if you’re looking for something different in genre TV this may be the next new show to watch.
The cast is new to American TV screens, with Ksenia Solo as Kenzie. Actually you kind of wish Ksenia Solo and Anna Silk could haved used their own names as the characters, as their real names are pretty cool as slick heroine names go. The female head of the house of the dark Fae (Emanuelle Vaugier) has the same feel as the Wicked Queen of the ABC series Once Upon A Time, only this leader is less vile and over the top, and her reserved nature makes her far more compelling to watch. And a scientist played by Zoie Palmer appears to be a series regular.
It’s refreshing to see two strong female leads helm a new series like this, and you hope they can keep the world building and strong characterization moving forward into something that can last. The crazy thing is that the series is in its third season in Canada, and only just this week premiering in the U.S. So the hope from episode one that this series won’t just fizzle out has already been determined by the Canadian viewers. So even if Syfy doesn’t continue with the series there is always the boxed set or streaming video version to catch up on!