Adapted into a long-forgotten movie 30 years ago, “Nightflyers'” shortcomings largely mirror those of “Origin,” a strikingly similar sci-fi premise that recently premiered on YouTube. Because the Syfy show essentially joins the story in the middle, there’s a similar sense of playing catch-up throughout, starting with sorting out what an “L-1” level empath can do, and exactly why the crew members are so nervous about having one among them.
Syfy nevertheless seems determined to make “Nightflyers” feel like an event — billing it as such, leveraging Martin’s name to the hilt, and airing the episodes over consecutive nights Sunday through Thursday over two weeks, coupled with the option to binge them online.
The desire to catch lightning in a bottle in the way that “Thrones” did is certainly understandable — one half expects to see “George R.R. Martin’s High School Yearbook” — but “Nightflyers” merely reinforces that such alchemy is exceedingly rare. And while the two might share literary lineage, the new series is at best a pallid pretender.
“Nightflyers” premieres Dec. 2 at 10 p.m. on Syfy. All 10 episodes will be available at Syfy.com.