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TV Review: Krypton

Krypton TV Review, Krypton, TV Review, DC Comics, Superman, Drama, Comic Book, Superhero, Science Fiction SyFy

SYNOPSIS: What if Superman never existed? Set two generations before the destruction of Superman’s home planet, KRYPTON follows Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe), the legendary Man of Steel’s grandfather, as a young man who is faced with a life and death conflict – save his home planet or let it be destroyed in order to restore the fate of his future grandson. With Krypton’s leadership in disarray and the House of El ostracized, Seg finds himself in a difficult position. He must redeem his family’s honor and protect the ones he loves while being challenged by familiar DC characters Brainiac (Blake Ritson) and Earthly time-traveler Adam Strange (Shaun Sipos).

Krypton TV Review, Krypton, TV Review, DC Comics, Superman, Drama, Comic Book, Superhero, Science Fiction SyFy

REVIEW: There is a lot riding on SyFy's Krypton, believe it or not. Airing on an NBCUniversal station, this Warner Bros production doesn't have the benefit of being connected like The CW's DC Comics offerings. Nor does it have the prestige of airing on one of the major networks like FOX's Gotham. There is also the fact that it is a Superman series without Superman. Developed by David Goyer, the co-creator of Zack Snyder's MAN OF STEEL, Krypton gets to have the signature look of the current big screen Superman series but without being a part of the DC Extended Universe. The result is a show whose trailers make it look a lot like a darker version of Marvel's Inhumans. Being compared to that massive disaster is never good so Krypton has to go a long way to prove itself. Having been given the first five episodes of Krypton to review, I can say the show is not terrible. But, it is not great either.

Much like the difficulty Gotham had in introducing Batman's rogue's gallery without actually featuring Batman, Krypton is telling the story of Superman's ancestors two ceturies before the planet was destroyed and sent Kal-El to Earth. Knowing that the cataclysmic event that dooms Krypton is far on the horizon and that Superman is currently alive and saving the world, there are not exactly any stakes for a viewer to be concerned about. So, Goyer and the writing team decided to artificially put the plot device in that Superman will disappear from reality if his grandfather, Seg-El (newcomer Cameron Cuffe) does not prove to the people of Krypton that a galactic threat is on the way and will destroy their world. That threat is the Collector of Worlds, better known to comic fans as Brainiac.

What follows over the episodes made available to us for review is a complex and convoluted introduction to the House system employed by the Kryptonians. Fans of Game of Thrones should feel comfortable trying to distinguish different families by their specific strengths and weaknesses as well as their recognizable crests. In fact, it feels like Goyer and his team approached this project with the distinct directive of making it as much of a DC Comics take on Game of Thrones as possible. The result is not nearly as engrossing as the HBO series, primarily due to the fact that we already know how the show is going to end: with Krypton being destroyed and Superman eventually arriving on Earth. So, even if Seg-El manages to bring honor back to his House and prevent Brainiac from destroying the planet, it is going to happen anyway. That is why there has been an artificial stake added to the mix that is explained by Adam Strange. For those unfamiliar with their DC characters, Strange has the ability to travel through time and space on Zeta Beams and has come to Krypton at Superman's request to have Seg-El save the planet.

Krypton as a planet has been featured in multiple storylines and comic books over the years, so viewers will recognize the domed city of Kandor and references to the Phantom Zone as easily as they will the names of Zod and El. But I could help but feel like this show has been done before and done better. The special effects are better than anything else currently airing on SyFy and they easily are the most impressive of any Marvel or DC television series, but when we aren't seeing vast landscape shots of the city or planet, most of the action is in closed sets constructed on backlots. There is also a feeling very similar to The CW series based on DC properties that this is aimed at the late teen viewing audience. There is mild profanity, some blood and broken necks, and a healthy dose of sideboob and naked backs, but none of it adds up to more than a soapy melodrama mixed with palace intrigue. Taking away the superpowers that Kryptonians only get from a yellow sun makes this a series about a bunch of mortals who manage to live for hundreds of years.

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Like many of the DC superhero series, Krypton has a season long story arc which is peppered with standalone episodes. Each episode has a self-contained story that progresses the main Brainiac/Superman story while also pitting Seg and the other characters on side quests. None of the episodes felt like story filler, but they also didn't feel involved enough to garner my undivided attention. That is a shame since the cast of young, pretty actors all do a decent job of selling the material. Star Cameron Cuffe does most of the heavy lifting and puts some emotion into the proceedings but the real work is put in by the supporting cast. Wallis Day and Georgina Campbell do a great job in the roles of Nyssa-Vex and Lyta-Zod. Both are stong female characters who are not purely eye candy and actually add a bit of depth to the drama. Day especially evokes a lot of Lena Headey in Game of Thrones. The bright spot in the entire series for me is Ian McElhinney as Val-El. Another Game of Thrones alum, McElhinney is the closest thing we get to Jor-El on this show.

Overall, Krypton is not bad enough to write it off completely and it is not good enough to really demand an audience. If anything, it is a serviceable take on an element of the Superman mythology that most people really don't care about. The series relies far too heavily on being like Game of Thrones which removes any chance of really being it's own series. Had it debuted last year, I am sure it would have garnered more buzz but in the wake of the awful Inhumans series, many viewers may stay away. Krypton could benefit from airing on SyFy, a network who has a dedicated base of viewers who eat up this material but I do not expect this to ever be a series that really breaks through to the mainstream. So, if you are the type of person who has to buy every last bit of merchandise emblazoned with Superman's iconic crest, you should tune in. Everyone else can take it or leave it.

Krypton debuts on SyFy starting March 21st.

Source: JoBlo.com

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