Review by C.J. Bunce
A title like The Imperfects may not sound like the next Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it is just that. And there’s simply no better television series to be compared to if you’re going to merge superheroes, sci-fi, and monsters. The series has style, it has three fantastic characters inhabited by terrific young actors, plus great writing, and hip, snappy dialogue–the kind that put Buffy at the top of the pop culture map. A banshee, a succubus, a chupacabra, a mad scientist and his ill-conceived creations, a secret government agency, with coming-of-age story tropes. Not just a story you may like–you’re going to love this new Netflix series. Created and written by Dennis Heaton (The Order) directly for television, The Imperfects leaves all the one-off superhero series–like The Umbrella Academy, The Boys, Jupiter’s Legacy, and The Doom Patrol–in its dust, and you may find it to be even better than the year’s several Marvel and DC superhero series.
It all starts with Doctor Alex Zarkov (played by Rhys Nicholson) and Doctor Sydney Burke (played by Supergirl’s Italia Ricci). Once they worked as partners on a synthetic stem cell project, but Zarkov tampered with a group of kids’ DNA, and that resulted in each of the kids gaining strange, unique, super-powered abilities. Drugs kept their side effects in check until recently. Now, three of them–young adults living in Seattle–decide they will find Zarkov and make him find a cure–or else.
The trio of leads consist of a scientist, a comic book artist, and a singer. Canadian actress Rhianna Jagpal (Charmed, iZombie) is Abbi, an advanced genetics student who might be able to cure them all herself with her extensive knowledge of cells. Her superpower comes from her pheromones–no one can resist her and everyone in her path becomes devoted to her–prompting a non-stop effort to spray them with a deterrent. She is also the leader most of the time, serious, and she can make mistakes. Mexican actor Iñaki Godoy (MexZombies) is Juan, known for his comic book series Sugar Skull, he shifts into a chubacabra when he’s angry, and learns he hunts and kills when in that form. He has a girlfriend and is trying to forge a stronger bond with his brother and niece, and as part of the trio in search of Zarkov he becomes more attracted to the third member of the team. That’s Tilda, played by Canadian actress Morgan Taylor Campbell (Charmed, iZombie), she’s a punk rock singer who is stalled by debilitating, hyper-sensitive hearing, a side effect of her “banshee” power of sonic screams that can move objects and overpower people.
Abbi and Juan agree: Tilda has the best powers. She also has the best dialogue and gets in and out of the best situations. Campbell is stunningly fantastic as Tilda, and her attitude and delivery is the high point of the series. The trio have great chemistry, mirroring the Buffy-Willow-Xander magic of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, enough to deliver viewers several more years of episodes if Netflix and audiences can only recognize the series’ greatness.
Along with sleek James Bond-meets-Bullitt opening titles for each episode, the quiet and calm dramatic sequences are delivered with expert visuals thanks to stylish cinematography by Mark Chow (Wayward Pines, The Twilight Zone) and William Minsky (Grendel). The haunting, simmering musical score comes from The Dead Zone and The Outer Limit’s Patric Caird. The Imperfects is also the unusual series that uses key pop music songs in ways that enhance but don’t detract from the narrative.
A Canadian-U.S. joint production, it also features some supporting actors genre fans will have seen before, two from Battlestar Galactica: Rekha Sharma plays Crain, head of Flux, an agency that seeks out failed experimental subjects known as GPs–that’s “gifted persons” or “guinea pigs” depending on who’s talking. And Kandyce McClure plays Dr. Monday, a robot expert who has developed some special nanobots. Ron Selmour (Arrow, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) plays Agent Jim Sponson, a great addition to the story who could play a bigger role in future seasons (Juan… removed… his nose while in chupacabra mode). And adding another level to the villainy of the series is Kyra Zagorsky (Arrow, Continuum) as the scheming Isabel Finch–her secret becomes part of the series’ best, most twisty reveal.
It’s cool. It’s full of great special effects. It has your fix of pop culture references. And it has a superb script. A series this great needs not only one but many more seasons. The Imperfects is perfect genre TV. Catch all ten episodes of the first season, streaming now on Netflix.