“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 before. This year things are about to come to a conclusion for our adolescent boy without a belly button. For Kyle’s fans, this is your classic good news/bad news scenario. The good news is that by picking up this third season release you can complete your collection of the entire series. The bad news is that by picking up this release you can complete your collection of the entire series.
The writers’ 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. The second season episodes wasted no time in fulfilling that late season promise, and we quickly learned 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. That season followed 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 that season was 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 had 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 followed were 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 found an identity, but the show really lost one. For most of that season, the series borrowed 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.
Now the show enters its last year. It was an abrupt ending, one the show runners didn’t exactly see coming, but perhaps they should have. The season gets far more bogged down in the teenage angst angle. This might be fine if you’re a teen girl. The rest of us grow impatient with the love life story lines that dominate this season. There is far less time spent on Kyle’s situation and more on his love triangle with Jessi and Amanda. Both of the other kids are having love life troubles as well. The mythology of the show continues with Latnok trying desperately to get Kyle to join them. Most of this comes from new cast member Hal Ozson as Cassidy, Kyle’s main nemesis in this final season. Ozson steps up the normally weak acting talent and makes for the strongest character outside of Kyle himself that we have seen thus far. It’s unfortunate that the show did not continue, as I felt there was some great promise with Cassidy.
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 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 dialog 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.
Future Revealed: (12:36) This feature turned out to be a huge disappointment. I was hoping to see some kind of satisfying conclusion to the series. It ends in a cliffhanger that will never be resolved. There was a chance here to give fans closure, and it was totally squandered. What we get for the first half is merely a recap of what we’ve already seen. Finally the crew begins to address the plans for the future of the show that will never be filmed. Instead they merely use words like “might have” and “likely” to describe some plot points that might have happened. Heck, I could have speculated on my own. You blew this one, guys.
Deleted Scenes: There are 12 in all with the handy play all option. You can also opt to listen to audio commentary by producers David Himelfarb and Eric Tuchman.
Kyle has ended his journey, and I think fans will be disappointed in how it all ends. The show runners were too busy playing high school romance that they left the good stuff for the future. The problem is that now that future isn’t going to happen. I feel bad for the true fans out there. I believe you deserved more than you get out of this thing. Certainly, you’ll want to complete your collection and pick up this release, but it will never feel complete. Kyle said it best himself, “Though we like to believe we have control over our lives, in a single moment everything can change.”