Review: Vagrant Queen Season 1 (2020)

All 10 episodes are available to watch in the UK on the SYFY channel.

Vagrant Queen is a TV series based on the Magdalene Visaggio and Jason Smith comic of the same name published by Vault Comics

PLOT AND STORY 

Child Queen Elida was driven from her throne at age ten. Forced to wander the galaxy, evading the revolutionary forces that wanted her dead. Now Elida has returned to her former kingdom to stage the rescue of her long lost mother.

Taking huge inspiration from the comics but with plenty of new content created for the show makes this a series I think fans of the comics and newcomers to the franchise will enjoy alike. Showrunner Jem Garrard created this show for TV with the writing team of Mariko Tamaki and Mika Collins. The team has constructed a funny, heartfelt series which has a similar vibe to shows like Firefly and Red Dwarf. 

This is a serious story tackling life and death situations but told through the eyes of a not so serious or sober crew of misfits. Their differences are ultimately what brings a team of reluctant heroes together to bring peace to the Galaxy via some sometimes slapstick and camp misadventures. What won me over so much was the situational and awkward humour throughout. The republic soldiers who heavily resemble Stormtroopers all have personalities under their helmets and often make cracking one liners you don’t see coming.

PRODUCTION AND DIRECTION 

Nobody will deny this series was made on a tight budget but I love the way this is fully embraced with some blatant use of tacky effects and props. I will say the costumes and settings used in this series are incredibly well done with such a large variety of different species. The scale of species and races is on a similar level to Star Trek and Star Wars with some obvious homages to both franchises.

Vagrant Queen has its own very unique style however it does resonate with a number of other shows. I say this with the greatest of respect but the cheap looking effects in space and junkyard looking ships are reminiscent of the show Red Dwarf. The political hierarchy and uniformed republic remind me of Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. The rag tag looking crews and rough space bars made me think of Buck Rogers and Firefly while the over extravagance in certain characters reminded me of Buckaroo Banzai. Then of course there are some more obvious comparisons like Guardians of the Galaxy, especially as this series also contains a banging soundtrack.

I also admire the risks taken with some episodes by shifting the tone quite dramatically at times. The show generally has light hearted tone but every now and then the status quo is mixed up like episode 6 which has a genuine horror feel to it with some very dark and harrowing moments or episode 5 aptly titled Temple of Doom which felt like and Indiana Jones movie.

Something I feel harming this show is it’s unfairly low IMDB score currently sitting at 4.9 out of 10. However when you aggregate the episodic scores it actually gives the show a score of 6.4 which is a score more people might be inclined to give a try.

CAST

The three main characters to the series are Elida, Isaac and Amae played by Adriyan Rae (Chicago Fire), Tim Rozan (Schitts Creek) and Alex McGregor (Blood Drive) respectively. Other than Rozan’s performance as Mutt in Schitts Creek I was completely unaware of this entire cast which can sometimes be a worry but I was incredibly impressed with the casting in this show. Rather than casting actors and fitting them to a role you can tell here actors were cast specifically for their role because they embodied the right attributes to give everything to the character. It’s always hard to say things are believable when your talking about science fiction but there are a number of sad and emotional scenes, hilariously stupid scenes and touching heartfelt moments which I did believe. In my opinion the three leads are perfectly cast in their roles and do justice to the comics (Amae aside who was created for the show).

The rest of the cast includes Bonnie Mbuli, Colin Moss, Paul Du Toit, Steven John Ward, Leon Clingman and Jennifer Steyn.

FINAL THOUGHTS 

Vagrant Queen is possibly the most comic book TV show ever made. Every scene feels like it was ripped straight from the pages of a comic with over the top gun fights, crazy space adventures in unbelievable places. Vagrant Queen has such and honest charm to it. Like the comic it knows what it is and doesn’t try to be something it’s not and I respect the hell out of Jem Gerrard and her vision for this show. What Vagrant Queen needs is a run on Netflix or Prime Video so the masses get to watch this brilliant and entertaining show because I know there are lots of possible fans out there who will love this show but might not even know it exists. 

I watched this via the Sky TV on demand service from the SYFY channel and received no incentive to review this show. All images are courtesy of SYFY and their respective owners.

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