Intergalactic packs a lot of energy into its launch, but Sky’s new sci-fi escapade drama has a very haphazard lift-off. The premiere might establish the series’s jarring tone and fractious ensemble cast, but its hurtling momentum is as disorientating as jumping across the galaxy without a seatbelt on.
On post-climate crisis Earth (called the Commonworld), where vast city vistas are built above subterranean ruins, Ash Harper (Savannah Steyn) is a high-flyer. She’s both a city sky cop and daughter to the Galactic Head of Security (Parminder Nagra). Her world is turned upside down when she’s framed for a crime, thrown onto a prison ship and sent to an off-world penal colony. Imprisoned with hardened criminals, including one of her recent arrests, it’s a bad place for the former police officer to be. Matters are made worse when her cellmates (Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Eleanor Tomlinson, Diany Samba-Bandza, Imogen Daines and Natasha O’Keeffe) manage to break out, take over the ship and go on the interplanetary lam.
There is some novelty to show-runner Julie Gearey’s intergalactic dystopia in its abrasiveness, Britishness and predominantly female cast. The dialogue might be hammy, but the action can be crude, featuring a number of blood-splattered, unsettlingly violent scenes. Beyond the sleek, clinical metropolis on Earth, there’s a pervasive sense that places and people off-world are rough and rowdy. Kieron Hawkes’ direction is unsteady, leading to some awkward jumps and jolts in scenes, but it just about suits the spiralling anarchy in each situation.
However, though the series could be placed somewhere between Syfy’s epic The Expanse and space bounty-hunter romp Killjoys, it lacks the necessary world building and tonal consistency to make it as coherent, engrossing and charming. With exposition so poorly or sparingly given and the shifts from brutishness to banter so unwieldy, the story, world and characters can be perplexing. Likewise, the frenzied pace barely covers the plot contrivances (or forgets certain details), as an overarching, shadowy conspiracy – so typical of the genre – is hinted at.
The performances are mixed too, lurching from overblown l to wooden with little nuance. It’s questionable at this stage whether there’s much going on for this crew beyond stereotypically gruff exteriors, psychotic mania, worthy fortitude and hapless naivety, though admittedly it’s early days.
The two pilot episodes offer an outlook for the future of the planet, but with an idea of the show’s quality: both are uninspiring. Intergalactic might have shot out of orbit, but it already threatens to drift listlessly and messily in space.
Intergalactic is released on Sky on 30th April 2021.
Watch the trailer for Intergalactic here: