Defiance has been given high expectations to live up to. Whilst the companion computer game has been a flop, marred by bugs and errors (see Digital Spy’s review), having watched the feature long pilot, I can safely say there’s a lot to tantalise the taste buds.
The first five mins of the show, pre-released online by SyFy, certainly hinted at great things to come. There’s no glossy sheen and Hollywood glitz here; it’s shot in a similar style to Battlestar Galactica, there’s a great atmospheric soundtrack and when people have been fighting, well what d’ya know, they’re actually bloodied and dirty rather than having their lip gloss and hair remaining in perfect place. Moving on past the first five minutes, the show continued to intrigue and interest me from start to finish and it ended with a ‘wow, well that was pretty good’.
The concept’s pretty simple. A group of aliens invaded the Earth after their own star system died. They’re made up of a variety of races, most of whom don’t seem to like each other and have strained relationships with one another at best. Joshua Nolan and his adopted daughter Irisa (an Irathient) land in the town of Defiance after being wounded, only to help solve a murder and discover a war party of Volge (Defiance’s one true villainous race) descending towards the town to eradicate it.
There’s huge scope for this series, and the foundation has been well started. The romeo and juliet storyline between two of the warring Defiance factions children offers promise, but only if it doesn’t go down the cliche route of star-crossed lovers. Jaime Murray (Dexter’s Lilith) excels as the wife of Castithan husband Datak Tarr and plays the role of a subservient wife who’s pulling the strings very well. Leads Nolan and Irisa (Grand Bowler and Stephanie Leonidas) are both strong enough to carry the story, and the pilot offers a slight glimpse of the other races and storylines that may develop over time.
The main area that Defiance MUST succeed in is to create a good overall story-arc, within which the story can grow. Fringe had the unexplained events that obviously geared towards something greater. Battlestar Galactica had the destruction of the colonies and humankind on the run. V had the arrival of aliens on planet Earth and the constant wondering of just what they were after. Defiance has, well, a town. There are flickerings of a bigger story, a plot that could put everyone’s lives in danger, but this will need to be developed carefully to keep interest brewing. Otherwise, Defiance could become just another show which loses its way several episodes in and never recovers; aka Terra Nova – the dino show with a worrying lack of actual dino’s. Defiance’s alien races need to be developed so that they don’t just look different, but have alternate views and takes on the world too. Characters need not to start out three dimensional and then fade to carbon templates. And, like so many good stories, it’s imperative that the obvious doesn’t always happen.
That said, the pilot was pretty amazing, the CGI for SyFy’s budget was good, there was no obvious bad acting and the story set the foundations for what could be a fantastic new science fiction series. I’m looking forward to next week!