Kyle XY is a quirky series that began about a year ago on the ABC Family Channel. Owned by Walt Disney, you can imagine the kinds of programs one can find there. It’s pretty much a safe haven for kids and their parents to be able to watch things together. That’s why I was a little bit surprised when I watched Kyle XY for the first time on these DVD’s. Certainly the show is pretty much family friendly, but not to the squeaky clean Disney image I’ve come to expect. There are a couple teenage make-out scenes in the pi…ot that seemed awkwardly out of place, at least to my expectations. Certainly these scenes were quite tame, particularly in the post NYPD Blue television universe, but I was still a bit surprised. The overall science fiction theme is also a bit edgy. There is a Smallville/X-Files flavor here. The violence level is toned down from those other shows considerably. That’s not to say there isn’t a bit of danger element pervading the entire series. With the exception of Matt Dallas, who plays the titular Kyle, the cast is considerably weak in its acting chops. Dallas is, however, a bit of a standout here. The young actor seems to have a considerable insight into the nature of his character. He does an absolutely stupendous job of demonstrating the naiveté and innocence of Kyle. Perhaps this performance stands out because of the really bad acting by the rest of Kyle’s adopted family. Bruce Thomas, playing Dad, is horrid. Maybe that’s to be expected when your movie resume includes the two Legally Blonde films. Another rare performance is to be found in Nicholas Lea as the enigmatic Foss. Lea, of course, is best known as the sometimes ally, sometimes bad guy Krycek from the aforementioned X-Files.
The premise for Kyle XY starts very much like the John Doe series and continues to parallel that failed series. Kyle shows up naked in the woods with no memory of who he is. Taken in by a social caseworker and her family, Kyle begins to exhibit strange abilities. He doesn’t require sleep, although in an attempt to be more normal he does give it a try using a bathtub for a bed. He has extremely acute hearing and unusual physical strength. While his memory might be fuzzy, his mental capabilities are off the charts. Oh, and he’s missing a belly button. Most of the shows find Kyle trying to find out who or what he is. A mysterious stranger, Foss, is watching him closely and eventually reveals himself as a possible friend. The show tries to get a lot of mileage out of the Trager family’s learning to deal with Kyle and his emerging oddities. The season ends with Kyle leaving the Tragers to meet his possible creator.
Each episode of Kyle XY is filmed in HD and thus is presented in a 1.78:1 widescreen format. I did not watch the series during its cable run, so I’m not sure if that was its broadcast format. The picture looks quite good, if a little sterile. Colors are all pretty much reference but never really stand out. Black levels are maybe a little better than average. Overall the quality is good, but it doesn’t seem to have much life. This is a case where digital can tend to look still, while film is always animated, even when the picture is not moving. I’m likely doing a poor job of explaining it, but there just isn’t any fluidity at all in the picture.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is pretty much average. The show is considerably dialogue heavy. A lot of the sound is Matt Dallas’s narration of the action. Because everything is so toned down, this never gets the chance to be a very aggressive mix. Everything sounds good where it is, but the rears are rarely active at all.
“Extended Episodes” The season’s first and last episodes are offered in an alternative format. Actually you have a choice in the pilot but not “Endgame” which is presented only in its extended format.
“Declassified” This 18 minute feature is mostly Matt Dallas doing a voiceover as the key moments of the season are summarized. Don’t watch this until you’ve seen the episodes; it contains major spoilers. The last couple of minutes give you a rather insightful preview of season 2, scheduled to air again on ABC Family. One of the biggest new plot points is the introduction of Jesse XX, a darker female counterpart for Kyle.
The show is enjoyable enough. It might be a little too complicated for its younger audience, but there are enough kiddie moments that they are likely to be drawn in enough to keep the show going for awhile. Expect a little shake-up for season 2, but you might want to watch these DVD’s first if you are just now thinking about watching the show. What can you expect? “I’m ruling out time travel, aliens, and pink goo.”
Special Features List
- Alternate premiere and extended season finale
- Exclusive show secrets
- Commentaries on Selected Episodes