Persons Unknown Review: Missing Something

PERSONS UNKNOWN: Monday 31st October, Syfy, 9pm

There have been plenty of shows and movies that begin with the same basic premise. Drop ordinary people into an extraordinary situation and follow them as they try and figure out why they’re there. Syfy’s new series Persons Unknown follows this formula faithfully, as complete strangers wake up to find themselves in an abandoned ghost town, unable to leave and unsure of why they have been chosen.

The mystery surrounding the strangers is compelling and it’s clear that small revelations about their history will continue to be the main draw of the show, but the characters themselves are quite vacant. Each one seems like more of a bland stereotype than the last. Does the soldier really need to answer every question with “sir, yes sirâ€??

This opener was also lacking something plot wise, but presumably that is only because the characters are as disoriented as we are. The most inconsequential scenes are pumped full of dramatic music and shown from CCTV camera angles, apparently in a bid to get us on the edge of our seat as we watch people eating Chinese food. Hopefully, as the series continues these mundane tasks will be replaced with real action, which propels the characters towards some answers.

What the show does have in abundance is unanswered questions. What do these seven people have in common? Who’s watching them try and survive in this abandoned town? How long until Joe and Janet get together? Is this going to be anything like those Saw films? I have a feeling that as we get more answers, we’re only going to be faced with more questions to keep us interested.

The close-up on Janet’s fortune, reading “kill your neighbor and you’ll go freeâ€? raises the episodes most captivating mystery. This show has great potential for some character in-fighting and it remains to be seen if anyone is as they appear. This new Syfy show is clearly about the mystery and the first episode raises more than enough questions to compel you to tune in again… but only if you care about where this is all going.

It’s difficult to have a vested interest in any of the shallow, enigmatic characters but now that it’s all set up hopefully revelations will follow. The series, which already aired in America on NBC, was intended to conclude after 13 episodes but many complained that not every question was answered by the finale. That’s not necessarily the sign of a bad first series however, providing that it is not the last. But Persons Unknown needs to step it up..