April 12, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Hunters”


HUNTERS:  Monday 10PM on Syfy – If Nothing Else Is On…

HUNTERS has production values that suggest it’s intended as one of Syfy’s more A-level entries (it’s shot in Australia rather than Canada), but mostly its premiere hits B-movie beats.  Created by veteran TV writer/producer Natalie Chaidez, whose credits include everything from Heroes and 12 Monkeys to In Plain Sight and Necessary Roughness, and based on the novel “Alien Hunters” by Whitley Strieber, its major contribution to the form is combining the this-time-it’s-personal thriller plotline of a Taken riff with alien baddies.

Our Liam Neeson stand-in is Flynn (Nathan Phillips, who like much of the cast is an Australian speaking with a strained US accent, presumably so the show can qualify for local tax credits), a gritty cop with PTSD issues whose lovely, goodhearted (she adopts stray kittens–really) piano teacher wife Abby (Laura Gordon) is abducted, sending Flynn on a one-man mission to track her down.  He doesn’t stay one-man for long, though, before he’s shadowed and then recruited by the latest incarnation of the standard secret government agency (here a wing of Homeland Security) devoted to eliminating the threat of alien terrorists.  These particular terrorists have a thing for sound waves, and they bury coded threats inside recordings of pop songs.  Since the series needs to go on for a while, there’s also the suggestion that the aliens have infiltrated the agency.

The fact that two directors (Ernest Dickerson and Emile Levisetti) are credited with the pilot suggests that there have been changes behind the scenes, and perhaps Hunters will reveal more interesting content as it continues.  At the outset, though, it’s very basic stuff.  The government agents are a particularly bland bunch, with only Regan (Britne Oldford) given much of a character–and her secret is one viewers will guess before it’s revealed near the pilot’s close.  Phillips doesn’t get much to play beyond grim determination, with a few bits of Flynn being at a loss when forced to deal with his foster daughter, whose character appears to have been formed by the writers sticking their hands into a bag of plot complications and using everything they pulled out:  she’s the bitter daughter of Flynn’s dead ex-partner, who is on the autism spectrum, and also a cutter.  (If she gets pregnant before the season is over, she will have completed the TV teen grand slam.)

Hunters has some well-constructed action sequences and a brisk pace, and it’s certainly a step above Syfy fare like Wynonna Earp, but there’s little here to draw viewers back.  In a TV world saturated with fantasy action, it’s firmly on planet Routine.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."