March 22, 2018

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Krypton”


KRYPTON:  Wednesday 10PM on Syfy – Change the Channel

With the engagingly odd exception of The Magicians, Syfy hasn’t had much luck with its big swings, and KRYPTON is unlikely to change that.  The network’s position for the last several years has been so strange as to be almost nightmarish:  in a pop culture whose leading currency is fantasy adventure, the platform wholly devoted to genre fare has subsisted on a diet of cheap acquisitions and foreign co-productions.  Krypton was supposed to change that.  Unusually for Syfy, it’s produced by a major 3rd party studio, the DC wing of Warner Bros Television, and clearly money was spent on the production.  As is always the case, though, auspices are no substitute for a good script.

Despite its Superman pedigree, Krypton isn’t a superhero story.  It takes place 200 years before Kal-El’s birth, on the El family’s home planet, which turns out to be just like all the other planets in fantasy adventure.  There’s a struggling, heroic underclass, evil overlords, a menacing priesthood and a suffocating military presence to be overthrown.  Our hero is also standard issue.  Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe) is Superman’s eventual grandfather, a fact that the opening narration tells us.  He’s brave and impetuous, equally as likely to be elevated from the rabble because of his courage as to be put on trial for treason.  He’s also catnip to the ladies, entered into an arranged but enthusiastic engagement with Nyssa-Vex (Wallis Hall), even as he’s secretly conducting an affair with Lyta Zod (Georgina Campbell).  Naturally, the El family has a long history of being in rebellion against the ruling class.

Another plotline tries to invoke more familiar mythology.  Adam Strange (Shaun Sipos), a 21st Century Earthling wearing a baseball cap and hoodie, mysteriously appears to tell Seg-El about his wondrous grandson-to-be, and leads him to the Krypton version of the Fortress of Solitude (as the opening notes of John Williams’ score for the 1978 Christopher Reeve movie play on the soundtrack).

The credits for the Krypton pilot suggest some tumult behind the scenes.  Ian Goldberg, who shares writing credit with David S. Goyer on the pilot script, appears to be out of the picture (Damian Kindler was brought on as showrunner), and there are 2 credited directors, Ciaran Donnelly and Colm McCarthy.  That may go some way in explaining the choppy pace and ragged narrative line.  However, it doesn’t excuse the stiff dialogue, the hackneyed (or in the case of the time traveller, silly) plotting, or the uninspired performances, most damagingly by Cuffe.  Despite the evident production budget, even the sets are dull and photographed badly, so that they betray their soundstage origins.

Krypton feels as though Syfy thought that all it had to do was attach itself to a famous superhero franchise, and the rest would produce itself.  Quite the contrary is true, of course:  we’re now so surrounded by the genre that viewers have plenty of opportunity to choose only the best and discard the others.  Based on its pilot, Krypton is headed for the same fate as its namesake planet.

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."