Thursday, January 14, 2016


Serious sci-fi seems to be the in thing on TV these days, both on Syfy (with shows like The Expanse and the upcoming The Magicians) and elsewhere, and USA gets in on the action with the gritty but somewhat generic Colony. A bit like TNT's Falling Skies with all the cool aliens taken out, Colony focuses on both resistors and collaborators after an alien force has invaded Earth, although the aliens themselves are never seen (at least in the three early episodes I watched). Otherwise, this is a familiar story of alien invaders taking over the planet, with a small band of resistance fighters attempting to overthrow the conquerors. Josh Holloway plays the morally conflicted former FBI agent Will Bowman, who is forced to work for the collaborationist government, and Sarah Wayne Callies plays his equally morally conflicted wife Katie, who is also pressured (albeit not as strongly at first) to work for the resistance, feeding them information about her husband's activities.

The show's world-building is a bit inconsistent, but there is a convincing mix of normalcy and post-apocalyptic hardship to its take on occupied Los Angeles. Holloway and Callies, both genre veterans, are a bit less compelling to watch than some of the supporting players (including Carl Weathers, Kathy Baker and Kathleen Rose Perkins, all doing strong work), and Peter Jacobson, as the self-interested but open-minded alien-appointed governor of the territory, steals every moment he's onscreen. The show's relentlessly grim tone is meant to convey the serious moral complexity of Will and Katie's positions, but Jacobson's playful performance is more entertaining and more intriguing.

Still, there's a lot of potential to explore in this world, and not surprisingly for a show co-created by Lost's Carlton Cuse, there are a lot of tantalizing unanswered questions. Whether those answers will come, and more importantly, whether they will be interesting and satisfying once they do, is another matter. But for now this is a show worth keeping an eye on for sci-fi fans, although I doubt it will ascend to the levels of general acclaim of shows like Battlestar Galactica or Orphan Black. It's a decent alien-invasion drama, but it's not much more than that.

Premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on USA.

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