The new show Debris debuted recently, with a strong alien/X-Files vibe to it. In a nutshell, the premise is that scientists spotted a damaged alien ship drifting through the solar system, surrounded by debris. Some of that debris has fallen to Earth, and almost all of it has strange energy readings with unpredictable impacts on the local population. For example, the first use you see of it is someone picking up a piece that lets them pass through solid matter, falling 14 floors to her death THROUGH the hotel building she’s in. Cool, huh? The two main characters are investigating the phenomenon, a joint task force of the US and the UK. He’s CIA, she’s MI6, and they’re not the only ones looking for these fragments.
So, is it X-Files 2021?
It’s hard to say based on a single EP if that will be the continued vibe, but the short answer is no. It is clear from the get-go that there are aliens and this is alien tech. There’s no “mystery” of the truth being out there. The debris is definitively alien.
However, there is a bit of an X-Files “what is this about” vibe. He’s more the Scully-type, traditional hunter, having formerly been in Afghanistan and not wanting to go to the private sector on returning home. For the debris, he wants to keep it out of enemy hands. She is the Mulder-type who believes in the power of all things, and that if they find the technology, they can improve the lives of all humanity.
The “he” in question is Bryan Beneventi, played by Jonathan Tucker. He is the co-anchor for the show, and that’s a problem. I liked him in Westworld, Justified, numerous guest shows, and all the way back to The Black Donnellys. And in almost every single show I’ve seen him in, he’s a snivelling weasel, pretty much. Spineless. Often with some drug stuff going on maybe. Untrustworthy to the core. THIS is the guy you want saving the planet? Oh, he’s got faults all over the place, but he isn’t a guy I root for, pretty much ever. If he was in a mobster show, he’s the one double-crossing the big guy or going rogue to prove himself, screwing either bit up, and getting whacked asking why everything always goes wrong for him. I like him in those other roles, but I had a lot of trouble seeing him in this one.
The “she” in question is Finola Jones, played by Riann Steele. I’ve seen her in a few things over the years, nothing that stands out as riveting. She’s decent in the premiere, but nothing particularly compelling. There’s some back history with her father having seen the debris field, he was an astrophysicist who apparently died. Spoiler alert — he’s apparently not dead.
For other supporting characters, there’s Bryan’s boss played by Norbert Leo Butz who isn’t sharing everything with Bryan. He’s been in a few things here and there over the years, nothing that stands out to me. Finola’s boss is played by Anjali Jay, but you don’t get a really good scene with her (she’s on the phone to Finola), so it was hard to place her. Thanks to IMDb, I now know I’ve seen her before on Continuum (she was good) and Supergirl (meh). Nothing compelling, and impossible to know if she’ll have much of a role in the show.
Good news though, we have a bad guy. I thought it was some sort of typo, I confess, as the actor’s name is Scroobius Pip. He’s apparently a quite well-known hip hop artist in the UK, but I have never heard of him. It explains his name, I guess, with the background. Anyway, he’s been in a few shows, nothing I have seen though, and in EP1, he has about 10 lines. His role is a bit intriguing as you find out he’s actually SAS and hunting the debris too, plus he has some sort of transporter tech they’re using (from the debris fragments). It has some bugs though, so kind of a last resort tech.
The premiere’s goal though is to grab you. To pull you into the mystery. And to be honest, it doesn’t. It’s interesting, sure. The case of the week is (spoiler alert, again!) a kid that has come back from the dead and a bunch of people are seemingly dying and floating across the ground in the same direction to the same spot. They’re not actually dead though. So the mystery is how is the kid alive, what’s the connection between the victims, how do they solve it. Well, considering the opening scene that raised the stakes took about 10 minutes (complete with Michael Eklund as a black market dealer of debris relics, and I was initially excited cuz I loved him as Bobo on Wynonna Earp, right up until he bites the dust at minute 9), they solve the rest in the remaining 32 minutes or so. Bippity boppity boo, all is right with the case, problem solved. Really? That would be like the Lost characters finding a resort to stay at on the Island rather than facing the Others.
So where does that leave me?
Basically nowhere. The writing wasn’t compelling, nor was the acting. The mystery of the week ended way too easily. And the larger mystery? There just wasn’t enough time spent on the fact that it was ALIENS for crying out loud. We have people DEFYING GRAVITY (no reference intended to the show) and people aren’t losing their sh**? Really? Okay, well if you’re not excited and getting worked up, why would I? I’m going with cancellation (which is also TV Grim Reaper’s prediction) and I won’t be watching.