Julien Neaves, Sci Fi Head Writer
Hey Red Mango Readers. Quick question. Don’t you just love when you get into a cool Sci Fi TV series and then it gets cancelled after one season? And, even better, or a huge cliffhanger? Yes, I’m being sarcastic. It sucks!
And that was my experience with recent NBC series Debris (March to May 2021). But I’m not taking it lying down. Oh no!
Okay, I have no influence on the Hollywood Powers That Be over and above your average fan but I have this site so I’m still gonna say my piece, gosh durn it! And I’m going to make my case for why Debris should be saved and deserves at least a second season.
For those who haven’t seen the series here’s a quick breakdown. An alien spacecraft broke up over the Earth and has been scattering debris for the past six months. Each piece of debris has a unique quality (cloning, de-aging, teleportation, usual Sci Fi stuff) and a task force has been established to track them down. The show focuses on two partners in the task force, CIA operative Bryan Beneventi (Jonathan Tucker from 2003 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Westworld) and MI6 operative Finola Jones (Riann Steele, who played Queen Nefertiti in the Doctor Who episode Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and also appeared in NCIS: New Orleans).
My goodness. That is the biggest pile of poop I have ever seen! What kind of animal would even make that?
There are several things that work here, and admittedly a couple of things that didn’t. Let’s start with the good. The opening title sequence is just sublime with the gorgeous instrumental theme by Raney Shockne and show creator/co-executive producer J.H. Wyman (he also worked on Fringe and Almost Human) and the beautiful visuals of the debris raining down upon Earth. And speaking of debris, the concept is so simple yet so full of potential. You could pretty much have the debris do anything and then work your story around it or start with a story and then add a debris effect to it. The possibilities are practically limitless. And my favourite part of the show was discovering a new debris and figuring out what it does along with Beneventi and Jones. It felt like an intriguing mix of The X-Files and Warehouse 13 and I dug that.
Tucker and Steele are very strong leads and Norbert Leo Butz also put in good work as Craig Maddox, a CIA operative and Beneventi’s handler. The show also did well to create a sense of tension, creepiness, and intrigue episode to episode. There was also an action element thanks to the inclusion of an extremist organisation called “Influx” seeking the debris for their own nefarious purposes. And the special effects are very well done. So that’s the positives. Now on to the stuff that didn’t work.
You know what they say about two heads? Better than one? Can’t believe you never heard that
While our two leads deliver strong performances the writing does not do enough to flesh them out as full-bodied characters. We mostly get them in relation to the main story so you have the broad strokes of who they are, but they still don’t feel like completely real and relatable people. And Scroobius Pip (hey, that’s an interesting name), who plays Influx member Anson Ash, has a good villain look but the character is extremely one-note and not at all interesting. We actually do get an intriguing bad guy played by John Noble (Fringe, The Lord of the Rings) but he is introduced very late in the season and probably should have been brought in about midway. He could have been Debris’ version of X-Files’ The Smoking Man, and everybody loves The Smoking Man.
Another flaw is that while the setup of the debris was usually interesting some of the resolutions felt too quick and less than intuitive. And finally while I liked the dark tone of the show they could have lightened it up in a couple of episodes. Like a piece of debris that switches people’s minds with animals? I’m just spitballing here. But adding in just a little levity would have made a big difference. Heck, even X-Files had comedic episodes every once in a while.
But even with those issues there was more than enough working here for the show to continue. And I do hope it does, even if it’s on another network. Because with the high quality of this Debris, it really should not be discarded.
So do you think Debris deserves another season? Or what other Sci Fi series was cancelled too soon (other than Firefly, we all know about Firefly). And you can check out more Sci Fi TV content below:
Five Sci Fi Movies that Became Awesome TV Shows
Top 5 Netflix Original Sci Fi Series (RMR Turns 5, Part 6 of 6)
Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.