Pilot Perception: Into the Badlands

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

The Show: Into the Badlands, AMC, Sundays at 10/9c

The Pedigree: The show was created and written by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (Smallville), who executive produce with Stacey Sher (Django Unchained), Michael Shamberg (Django Unchained), David Dobkin (The Judge), and Stephen Fung (Badges of Fury). Dobkin directed the first episode.

The Cast & How You Know Them: Into the Badlands stars Daniel Wu (Europa Report), Marton Csokas (Rogue), Orla Brady (Fringe), Sarah Bolger (Once Upon a Time), Aramis Knight (Ender’s Game), Emily Beecham (The Village), Oliver Stark (Dracula), Madeleine Mantock (The Tomorrow People), and Alexia Ioannides (Parenthood).

The Premise: In a post-apocalyptic feudal society, assassins called Clippers work for rival Barons. In the midst of growing political conflicts, warrior Sunny rescues a teen boy with secrets and together they embark on a quest larger than themselves.

A Taste:

 

What Works: The filming style is interesting — it’s much, much brighter than most dystopians — and it’s generally quite an attractive show, visually. I’m always happy to see a racially and ethnically diverse cast. The world-building is detailed and intriguing. And I love the dynamic so far between main character Sunny and the teen boy he falls in with.

What Doesn’t: This might just be — not for me? Because I understand that this is a martial arts drama, that that’s supposed to be a big focus, but I just found the fight scenes pretty boring and interminable. The whole thing was very, very slow. And so far, at least, this does not seem to be a world that treats its women very well; the question is whether it’s aware of that — we’ll have to see how that’s handled as the show progresses.

Our Favorite Line: “You got a name? Or do you just show up, kill people, and leave?”

You Might Like This if you like martial arts stories, and dystopians with a heavy historical flavor.

If You’re Interested: AMC has made the first episode available for free on their site, or catch it on demand or in one of the several reruns this week.

(Photo courtesy of AMC.)

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