Pilot Perception: Hunters

Hunters

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show – here, Hunters – in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: Hunters, Syfy in the U.S. and Showcase in Canada, Mondays at 10/9c

The Pedigree: Hunters is based on the novel Alien Hunter by Whitley Strieber. It was developed for TV by Natalie Chaidez (12 Monkeys), who executive produces with Gale Ann Hurd (The Walking Dead). Chaidez wrote the pilot, which was directed by Ernest R. Dickerson (The Walking Dead) and Emile Levisetti (Royal Pains).

The Cast & How You Know Them: The show stars Nathan Phillips (The Bridge), Britne Oldford (American Horror Story), Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck), Mark Coles Smith (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries), Laura Gordon (Winners & Losers), Lewis Fitz-Gerald (Truth), Gareth Davies (The Daughter), and newcomer Shannon Berry.

The Premise: “What if terrorists were literally aliens?”, basically. When an FBI agent’s wife disappears, he gets pulled into the world of a secret government agency fighting non-human terrorists.

A Taste:

 

What Works: The alien stuff itself wasn’t particularly interesting, but I’m curious enough about the central mystery of the missing woman to watch at least one more episode. There’s a female character on the autism spectrum, and while it’s too early to know whether that will be handled in any decent way, the representation is good to see. The soundtrack was striking. And I’m glad they’re directly making the “our reaction to terrorism involves treating whole ethnic groups like they’re not human” connection, though where they actually go with that could be terrible.

What Doesn’t: The beginning is pretty confusing, in a way that I couldn’t quite decide to what extent it was intentional: there’s a fine line between having mysteries unfold in a carefully planned way and just letting things make no sense for a while and expecting your audience to go with it. Once things did start making sense, though, they just felt pretty generic, and the writing was extremely bland. Not terrible, just … not good. The acting ranged from “fine but unmemorable” to “wait, is the fact that this person is emoting in a way no human ever would supposed to be a sign that they’re an alien??”

Our Favorite Line: “The terrorists we’re chasing aren’t human.” “Used to say that about the Hajis.”

You Might Like This if you like action procedurals with a sci-fi element. At one point while watching I thought “Hey, this is basically Gone Girl meets Men in Black!” and .,, that’s not the least accurate description. It also reminded me a bit of a more action-y (and less well-written) X-Files. And to an extent what it’s probably trying to be is 24 but with aliens.

If You’re Interested: Syfy and Showcase are both rerunning the pilot a few times this week, so check your local listings, or catch it on demand or on the Syfy or Showcase sites. Then set your DVR for Monday at 10/9c.

(Photo courtesy of Syfy.)

About Kate

Kate Linnea Welsh is a New Hampshire-based writer and taxonomist. (No, that doesn't involve dead animals.) She keeps us up to date on TV news in her weekly column "Caffeine." She writes about other TV shows, books, and more at her blog and her site Read the Screen. She'd love to talk to you on Twitter: @katelinnea