Review by C.J. Bunce
How many sci-fi and outer space tropes can you pack into one hour of TV? You’ll find out in the first episode of Syfy’s new space fantasy series Vagrant Queen. It’s like Firefly and The Fifth Element as if they were directed by Sam Raimi. Star Wars elements meet Doctor Who aliens with effects that feel a lot like The Last Starfighter. And humor that’s a cross of Guardians of the Galaxy and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Or maybe it’s just sci-fi created by Canadians. Whatever it is you’ll be all-in with the crew of the spaceship Winnipeg as it takes off into adventures in some galaxy out there that is… not ours.
Adriyan Rae (Atlanta) plays the scavenger Elida, a mix of Marvel’s Valkyrie and Rey from Star Wars, who stealthily has masked her former persona as Queen Eldaya, being pursued by the dreaded Republic, led by Commander Lazaro, played by Paul du Toit (remember Gary Oldman’s Zorg in The Fifth Element? He’s like that guy). Tom Rozon (Lost Girl, Wynonna Earp) is Isaac, a frenemy from Elida’s past (part Han Solo or Jack Harkness or Lone Starr from Spaceballs or Bruce Campbell in… anything). They come together with a Kaylee-inspired ship mechanic named Amae, played by Alex McGregor, to save a space station’s bartender, get a ship back, and rescue the queen. And that’s just the first episode.
It’s light-hearted, campy fun a la Xena: Warrior Princess featuring a group of actors who seem to be competing to see who has the most fun. It’s a little bit… everything… that you enjoy about space travel, with a cool lead like Killjoys and alien makeups reminiscent of Farscape. Goofy banter and situations, you’ll find yourself calling out the inspiration from nearly every scene, beginning with an opening rif on The Mandalorian. This is the escapism you’re looking for right now.
Vagrant Queen is an adaptation of a limited comic book series. The comic was written by Magdelene Visaggio and illustrated by Jason Smith, and the TV series is written by showrunner Jem Garrard (Killer High), Mariko Tamaki (X-23, Tomb Raider, Lumberjanes) and Mika Collins (Travelers).
Future episodes promise cannibalistic aliens, dangerous planets, shootouts, karaoke, and parking tickets. Check it out on Syfy and if you enjoy it, too, check out Vagrant Queen–the graphic novel. Order it now from Elite Comics (it’s also available at Amazon here).
Vagrant Queen airs Friday nights at 9 p.m. central time on Syfy.