Sunday, April 21, 2013

TV REVIEW: DEFIANCE Premiere


Defiance is the much anticipated Sci-Fi series from the Syfy channel developed by Rockne S. O’Bannon, Kevin Murphy and Michael Taylor. As well as a TV series there is also a cross platform MMO game tie-in. It premiered in the US on April 15 2013 and in a number of international markets later that week.


PLOT

The series is set in the near future, where aliens known collectively as Votans have come to Earth seeking a new home after their solar system was destroyed. However, when they reached Earth, they discovered despite a prolonged negotiation with the government on Earth, they were not welcome. Rather than turn away, they began a war with the humans as they are determined to make Earth their new home. During the war, the Votans drop terraformers on the planet and transform the surface of the planet; scorching the earth, opening chasms in the ground and covering the surface of the planet in dust and debris. After decades of war, a ceasefire is declared when both sides realise they must focus on survival on this new almost alien planet. 

WHY I CHECKED THIS OUT

First off the hype for this show has been slowly gathering for more than a year so long in fact I thought it would be a series starting last year. I can remember way back when it was just that new show that starred Julie Benz now it is so much more, it is the new Hail Mary Sci-Fi programme hoping to actually get past its first season.

Then consider the cross platform game (which I have yet to play, not having managed to get into the beta) and you have a HUGE marketing plan which I sincerely hope doesn’t go pear-shaped on us in the first season.


WHAT I THOUGHT

Defiance had so much to live up to with the hype but after the 2 hour premiere well I can’t say it has delivered 2 episodes in but it certainly has not let itself down. The show instantly manages to convey that feeling of epic that this is a whole new world that we the viewers instantly want to know all we can about and the info dump at the beginning is just enough without going overboard.

I am not sure if I would say that the show has echoes of Firefly or not but it has the aesthetic of most Sci-Fi shows set in the near future after a disaster. From what I have seen of the lore (the background if you will) I see a richly detailed world including a language or two which sounds great. For the Sci-Fi fans we have cool weapons (look at those knives) lots of new slang terms and more than multiple alien races each with their own significantly different cultures by the look of things.



The storytelling itself is tight and interesting which it could well be argued is to be expected in a two hour premiere but I can point you to a few examples where Sci-Fi shows have tried to start big and failed. I get the feeling that the next few episodes will continue on at this high level and hopefully get even better after all a lot of the fun of true Sci-Fi shows it finding out about the people who inhabit this brave new world.

One of the reasons that I like Science Fiction is the central cast actually matters, look back at Babylon 5 and you know it isn’t just about Sheridan and Battlestar Galactica isn’t just about the Adamas. The same is true with Defiance being about the various factions who live in Defiance so you don’t have to be a fan of one or another or like me you might be a fan of them all.

If I have not peaked your interest yet in Defiance I don’t know what will. Defiance is a very ambitious project with its game tie-ins especially on a network that doesn’t have a great track record of standing by its more ambitious shows. Don’t me wrong the show is worth watching and striving to do something that real fans of Sci-Fi have been without for far too long, the question is whether or not the network is going to blink if ratings aren’t record breaking.

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