“Every story has a beginning. Every life has meaning and potential…”
Kyle doesn’t really know his story, and he’s beginning to understand his potential. But that was last year. This year things are about to change for our adolescent boy without a belly button. The series Kyle XY returned first to ABC Family and now returns to DVD.
The writer’s strike created some rather unexpected structural problems for this offbeat series. The first season was interrupted, and it was quite obvious then to this reviewer that the plan was never completely realized. There were only 10 episodes then, hardly enough for a fully developed story, particularly when so much time was necessary setting up the idea and introducing a large number of characters. It ended in an easy enough place to deal with as Kyle comes face to face with his “father” Adam Baylin (Peck). Kyle was about to learn who, or what, he was. These new episodes waste no time in fulfilling that late season promise, and we quickly learn all about who Kyle is and where he came from. And when Adam is apparently fatally injured, it’s up to Adam’s right hand man, Foss (Lea) to continue Kyle’s training. For the first time, Kyle begins to develop a worldview for himself. When he finally returns to the Tragers he is a complete person, but he brings with him new dangers. The season follows the family’s involvement in a power struggle between Adam’s group and a sinister corporation, Madecorp. Kyle learns he has even more new abilities. A rather interesting one is a holographic memory, which allows him to access a detailed image from his own memories. He is able to walk around the image and examine it from angles he was unable to while experiencing them.
The most significant development in this season is the appearance of Kyle’s “sister”, Jessi (Alexander). She has the same abilities as Kyle, and in some ways is more advanced. Jaimie Alexander does a rather remarkable job of riding the character’s developing sense of conscience. At first Jessi is a tool without a personality of her own. In her interactions with Kyle and the Tragers, she develops more of a sense of self and eventually becomes as close to normal as she can be given her unique gifts and origins.
Episode 14 has a feeling of closure about it which leads me to believe that this is where season one actually ends. It not only closes a lot of story threads and ends with a defeat of the big bad, but even the ABC logo that finishes each episode changes after this one. The episodes that follow are anti-climactic in comparison. It might have been better to split this set up with 14 finishing the next chapter of the series.
Kyle finally finds an identity, but the show really loses one. For most of this set, the series borrows heavily from more familiar shows. Kyle’s developing powers amid a teenage angst surrounding reminds us way too much of Smallville. There are artifacts brought into the show’s mythos that are strikingly reminiscent of the Rambaldi devices in Alias. The Scooby group collection of teens solving these supernormal mysteries is more than a little bit Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Kyle’s holographic memory and future predictions look an awful lot like The Dead Zone, which used almost the same f/x tricks to show us the visions. Don’t forget the plot of Chuck as Kyle carries around a wealth of digital information that was downloaded in his brain. Wrap it all in an ABC After School Special crunchy outer shell, and that pretty much describes Kyle XY.
There are really too many characters in this show, and too many of them are really bad performers. The entire Trager family is absolutely horrible. They look like they’re acting in a daytime soap opera. Emotions are either non-existent or over the top. The parents are the worst of all. Carry that over to Kirsten Prout who plays Amanda, Kyle’s main squeeze. If she pouts just one more time… It only further demonstrates how good of a performer Matt Dallas is. He handles Kyle’s drastic character growths wonderfully. He could give thespian lessons to his television family. Perhaps he should hold workshops during filming breaks.
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.
There are audio commentaries with cast and crew on many of the episodes.
The box art makes it appear that most of the features can be found on disc 6. Actually more lives on disc 3.
Deleted Scenes: These are spread throughout the 6 disc set. Most episodes have at least a short clip or two. Most of it is fat and well cut.
Living With The X’s: Follow Matt Dallas and Jaimie Alexander around for a typical day that includes workouts and wake-up calls. It seems that Dallas gets to sleep in almost 2 hours longer than Alexander. He must have a better agent. It’s mostly a 12 minute fluff piece.
Facing The Future: Cast and crew offer up bits and pieces on what the second season had to offer. From these conversations I am even more convinced that season one actually ended with episode 14 of this set.
The Science Of Kyle XY: This 7 minute feature attempts to convince us of the realism in the sci-fi elements of the series. Whatever you say, guys.
I understand that this series is built mainly for a young audience. I think it doesn’t need to have so much teen angst all over the place to be a teen show. Teens I’ve talked to say they are tired of shows that portray them as hormone driven idiots. If you can excuse the dreary high school drama and get to the show’s core story, it actually begins to get interesting. Unfortunately there’s a lot of frivolous junk to get beyond first. But stay with it, if you can. “It’s the content that matters.”