Dark Matter Season 1 Review – A decent AppleTV+ sci-fi with a few niggling issues

Season 1



Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 9 -| Review Score – 3.5/5


Out of all the streaming platforms, AppleTV is arguably the home for hard sci-fi. Between the excellent Severance and Silo, there’s also poor quality efforts like Foundation and See.

It’s perhaps no surprise then that Dark Matter, Blake Crouch’s sci-fi thriller book, is ripe for a TV serial adaptation. Although the show does faithfully adapt the source material (for the most part), across the 9 episodes, the show suffers from the same issue that a lot of these other series have, including a bloated run-time that easily could have been cut down by at least 3 episodes.

Crouch’s sci-fi novel is a punchy, fast-paced affair. It’s a dive into the multiverse, with plenty of dialogue across the pages to keep things moving at a brisk pace. Even when things slow down, you never feel like the book is dragging its heels. Unfortunately, this is lost in translation a bit with this adaptation.

For those unaware,the story centers on a man named Jason. One night, he’s kidnapped and drugged by a strange masked man. When he awakens, he finds himself in another world and it would appear that his kidnapper is none other than himself.

After this revelation (which takes place in episode 1 so that’s not really a spoiler!), the show jumps back and forth between the two Jasons, as the imposter imposes himself on our Jason’s world, while our protagonist works to try and find his way back home.

It’s a simple premise but one that punches hard in the book, introducing some intriguing supporting characters that either hinder or help Jason get back to his world.

Dark Matter is one of those rare instances where the book would have done better as a 2 hour movie rather than a long TV series like this. There’s enough meat to dive into the character psyches and keep the pace brisk, without losing a lot of the more intriguing multiversal explorations that made the book so endearing.

The trouble is, Dark Matter stretches out its material beyond its limits – and it really doesn’t need to. Dives into different worlds sometimes take up half an episode length (and each episode is about 50 minutes long so it’s not exactly a short watch) while the characterisation is lacking at times too.

The show is crying out for sharper editing as well, and while seeing the other worlds is definitely interesting, it also feels somewhat unnecessary at times.

The other issue with Dark Matter comes from its actual plot, which is already working against a heavy tide. Between the multiversal adventures in the MCU, movies like Everything, Everywhere All At Once and the Spider-verse, apathy toward these multiverse romps is certainly hitting fever pitch, and it doesn’t do Apple’s latest sci-fi any favours. When you combine this with the pacing, this definitely drags its heels more than it should.

The acting definitely helps carry the show though, and it somewhat disguises from some of the more baffling character decisions. While these are necessary for the plot to progress, given we’re dealing with some of the brightest scientific minds – especially when it comes to Jason and Ryan – it sometimes belies belief to see them make the decisions that they do. It’s not a deal breaker, but definitely something worth bearing in mind if you’re looking to binge through this one.

Compared to some of the other shows on Apple, Dark Matter certainly isn’t bad, but it’s certainly not prestige like something akin to Severance either. This is a mediocre affair at best, with enough meat to keep you watching but not enough to satiate your hunger when the final credits roll.

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  • Verdict - 6/10

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