Defiance Series Premiere Review: Familiarity in an Unfamiliar World

Defiance S01E01: "Pilot"

After spending much of the last few seasons dabbling in the reality of Steve Urkel turning out the lights and the "soft sci-fi" of shows like the artifact hunt that is Warehouse 13 and the monster mash that is Being Human, Syfy is back in space! The network returned to its roots tonight in a big way with the premiere of Defiance, its first bigger-budget space-opera-ish project since Stargate Universe went kaput in 2011. The show is a step back toward what used to be the norm for the network, when lucky actors sat in makeup trailers for hours to have prosthetic faces thrown over their mugs and studios were wallpapered with green screens because building a model planet was just too expensive. 

But those shows were always a big deal only for a small, loyal audience. Aside from Battlestar Galactica, which crossed over into the mainstream thanks to gushing word-of-mouth support and well-earned drool from critics, the hardcore science-fiction Syfy (back then it was SciFi) almost went extinct as the network rebranded itself as a cool kid. So why is it getting back into the hard sci-fi game with Defiance? Because Defiance itself is also a game. Game developer Trion Worlds (Rift) is simultaneously releasing and maintaining a Defiance massively multiplayer online video game for consoles and PCs, in one of the first-ever fully realized television and video-game symbiotic relationships. Though the game and the show are set in the same universe, each project will inhabit a different part of the world, and events in one will be referenced in the other. It's an interesting idea that needs to be pointed out, but we're TV.com, not CrazyTVandGameProjects.com, so let's talk about the show as an individual entity (you can check out the game over at GameSpot). 

Defiance the show is a compilation of many familiar ideas playing out in an unfamiliar world. You probably noticed nods to Firefly, Star Wars, Halo, even Romeo & Juliet, and many, many more in the two-hour pilot. But given the taxing effort on the brain that Defiance's future new world demands—there are a bunch of new characters with funny names (can't aliens just be named "Bob?" Be more like The Neighbors, I say, semi-sarcastically!), there are new alien races that all have different relationships with one another, there's a complicated historical background of what happened since the aliens showed up, and there's the typical mundane expository details that come with brand-new show—the familiar elements actually provided some relief. Defiances's originality comes from its universe, not from its storylines (at least initially), and that makes it immediately digestible and alleviates the biggest obstacle viewers might have when deciding whether or not to watch the second episode. In that sense, it's not unlike Game of Thrones, another action-packed soap that injects tried-and-true themes into an imaginative world. And just like with Game of Thrones, you won't truly appreciate the dramatic turns the series has to offer until you feel comfortable in the world where the show is set, and Defiance's pilot served as a very attentive host.

Set however long in the future that Grant Bowler's character Joshua Nolan needed to grow up from a boy watching aliens arrive in 2013 to the adult wreckage hunter we met in the pilot—I think it's 33 years—Defiance is skipping the messy wars and peace treaties that happened during those three decades in favor of starting on an Earth that's shared by humans and the seven alien races known as the Votans. That plunks us right down in a multi-cultural melting pot filled with interspecies bouillabaisse, where some of the flavors clash and others, literally, marry. And it's the right decision for Defiance. The "origin story" isn't what we're here for; we're more interested in the deep-seated grudges and flimsy truces that come with long-term cohabitation than we are with the explosive off-the-cuff fisticuffs that often come between brand-new planetmates. We'll learn about the past as the series moves on, and that gives the writers even more to work with down the line.

The characters aren't that groundbreaking, but again, that's probably by design. They were all quickly distilled: Nolan is the rugged rapscallion, his tough adopted alien daughter Irisa is the orphan with trust issues, mine-owner Rafe (Graham Greene) is a man of the people and represents the working class, Datak and Stahma Tarr wade alone in their own arrogance as alien upper-class, new mayor Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) has lots to prove and big shoes to fill, and Mia Kirshner (once again) plays a seductive floozy. A collection of types, sure, but the flip side is that we could've been left with too many characters floating through the first two hours of the series without any direction, as pilots often do with characters who exist just outside the inner circle. Instead, the basics were laid out, and there was no mistaking who's who.

Plus, it's easy to imagine these characters building on their foundations and becoming more than just bits and pieces of characters we've seen before, because they're all tethered to the same area of the world rather than sprawled across it. And the pilot did a phenomenal job of connecting them in a way that drew lines from each character to every other character. They have no choice but to interact with each other, which brings out more of their personalities, and the cozy confines of Defiance will guarantee plenty of encounters. In that sense, Defiance is more Deadwood than Firefly (and that's a good thing, because it fits the mold of the HBO Western better than it does the Fox space Western).  

One area where Defiance stands out is in its ability to mash together different genres and give them a science-fiction makeover; as a result, the two-hour premiere sped right along and gave us zero reason to change the channel. There was obviously a bit of a space-Western feel, but within that genre the Tarrs were on a political bent, the big battle at the end gave us an action fix, and Nolan even CSI'd a crime scene to solve a murder. All this was under the umbrella of a larger big picture, and none of it felt crammed in. Even the slower scenes, like the Tarrs conspiring (which was basically two aliens in a bathtub), worked well. There was substance to every scene, and we had a good sense of what to take away from them. There was even time left over to give us an underground fight club featuring a bio-man who put a little extra effort into working out his trapezoids! 

Of course, science-fiction means special effects, and the reaction to Defiance's will likely be all over the map. Yes, TV special effects always look poor in comparison to feature-film effects, and Defiance's visuals are a bit inconsistent so far, but for the most part they hold up and for crying out loud if you have a problem with them just use your imagination.

Defiance's solid start is something to be excited about, and it comes as one of the more pleasant surprises of the season. The two-hour premiere did a lot of things well, but what's particularly impressive is that it didn't do many things wrong. That sounds like a backhanded compliment, but I assure you it's really a vote of confidence; with a series like this, so much could go awry. Count me in for the season, and I'm cautiously optimistic that it fulfills its potential. 



SPACE NOTES!!!


– Johnny Cash, still bringing cultures together decades and an alien invasion later!

– Of all the characters, only Doc Yewll, the sarcastic Indogene doctor, stands out as an early fan favorite. She's all sass and sarcasm! 

– Runner-up would be the Sensoth (the simian-like race) with the pet doggy Tito. You gotta like a huge dude with a tiny dog, and you gotta love a huge dude who names his tiny dog Tito. 

– Ahhh, how I've missed dialogue like, "Earth Republic pays top jaja for Votan tech. Pristine terra sphere like this? Three million easy." 

– I'm pretty sure the Irathient Spirit Riders are Canadian... I swear one of them said, "Ootside." 

– I'm a big fan of the cheesy "copy and paste" technique of special effects animation, recently used to perfection on Falling Skies. Example: The spider buffalo creatures getting shot right after Nolan buried his terra sphere in the woods. They all just fall over in the same way.

– I'm guessing the Castithans (the pale race with white hair that the Tarrs are part of) intercepted Edie Brickell video transmissions in space, and that's how they developed their dancing techniques.

– In a fight, why bet money on anything that has an obvious off switch, even if that switch is in the butt? Nice Jean-Claude Van Damme move from Bloodsport there, Nolan!

– I loved this exchange that was subtitled. Rafe: "Your son's been screwing my daughter!" Datak: "I'll screw you with my knife!" Not a great comeback, Datak, and even more corny when we have to read it.




Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter if you want to: @TimAtTVDotCom
Comments (320)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
I finally watched the pilot and I enjoyed it more than I thought. I happen to be a big time fan of the "soft Sci-Fi" like Warehouse 13 and Eureka but Syfy has done a great job for a new high concept Sci-Fi show. Honestly the whole old St. Louis and Arch are probably the only reason I tried it out since I live across the river in Illinois. I'd say Irisa is my favorite so far but the Jamie Murray character too since I love her roles she does. Not sure if I'll be a big fan but want to check it out.
Reply
Flag
I liked this pilot. Great concept, particularly as it goes back to straight forward sci-fi which we've needed for some time.

My only issue or worry is with the various alien races. The pilot seems setup to show humans as the only rounded ones (whether goodies or baddies), understanding everybody, whereas each other race seems to have it quirks and deficiencies. I'd personally prefer it not to be humans as the mediators, as I'd imagine that's what we wouldn't be best at in such a situation.
1
Reply
Flag
Not bad even though the old mayor did it and wanting to restart the war or kill all the aliens was easy to see coming. They've started something good I may end up dropping Falling Skies for this show.
Reply
Flag
How many alien races are there? I thought we were invaded by an alien race. Did they bring their own enemies and/or sentient pets?
Votan
Indogene
Sensoth
Irathient
Castithans
and others?

And how come no one has any spaceships. Even if all the ships were disabled in whatever battle they had they can't have been too severely damaged since something coming down as intact as what they found is common enough that only a few stray scavengers and raiders show up for the salvage.
So there must have been a lot of similar crashes in the years since the battle, and a lot of good salvage. I find it extremely unlikely that no one, or at least so few that we haven't heard about it yet, has built at least a suborbital vehicle to get to the salvage before it burns in the atmosphere.
Reply
Flag
There are 7 species; Castithans, Indogenes, Irathients, Liberata, Sensoth, Gulanee, and Volge. Collectively they're all known as the Votan, named for their star system the Votanis, which they all come from. There's an eighth as-of-yet-unnamed species, but it's believed to be completely extinct. I don't think we've seen the Liberata or Gulanee (as of the first episode), but I could be wrong - I may have just missed them. The Gulanee are really rare, and the Liberata act as servants to the Castithans.
2
Reply
Flag
You forgot the Volge (I think)
Reply
Flag
Originality is a bit of a stretch. Sure we have 7 new alien humanoid species to keep track of but other than that not very original. The acting is i dare say mediocre, OK but left wanting. Maybe because of sub par directing. I was certainly not Impressed. But if you liked star gate then this would be right up your alley. It's not a terrible show but it's just not engaging enough and it's just too clichéd.
2
Reply
Flag
I liked the stargate shows, but not this.
2
Reply
Flag
As much as I hate to say it, Firefly is over - get over it. Castle is kicking ass and ain't about to give up that gig. Anyway, I finally got the go-ahead from my wife who has decided not to watch, so I'm going it alone on this one, and will she be sorry. I guess there's something wrong with me because when I see a good story I don't give two hoots about CGI as long as it's adequate and it was here. And any complaints about Grant Bowler are just wrong. This was an excellent pilot and for those of you who agree that's cool. For those who want something better, well, I feel sorry for you is all...
4
Reply
Flag
Or you could work from home and make $7778 in 9 months...
6
Reply
Flag
I actually really enjoyed the pilot but this was probably helped by the fact that I went on Wiki and got the lowdown on all the various races. It's super handy guys you'll be A LOT less confused.
2
Reply
Flag
Colour me pleasantly surprised. And cautious. SyFy may be sucking me in only to cancel it when I really start liking it...
3
Reply
Flag
I'm going to give it a shot, this one... but comparing it to Game of Thrones... is only allowed because of the many, many people we met. Other then that, GoT had a lot more tempo from the get-go. But, since this is even more of a different world then GoT, i guess Defiance had to set the scene first. Still, throwing one of your obviously key-characters out of the window at the end of the first episode is much more of a cliff hanger (and crowd-keeper) then simply stating the villains in this story.......... So; Defiance! I love sci-fi, but go deep into an awesome story and do it the way we like it; fast and shocking!
1
Reply
Flag
I guess what this show did most was make me miss firefly!
2
Reply
Flag
Rockne S. O'Bannon is behind this show and I'm a HUGE fan of Farscape. I'm going to give this a shot, I'll even give it a second chance if I don't like the pilot.
1
Reply
Flag
Hope it won't have Terra Nova's fate.
3
Reply
Flag
I was just glad they killed off Peter MacNeill in the first episode so he could get back to his other job. Funny all I could think of with Jamie Murray in the bathtub was when are Lucy Lawless and John Hannah jumping in the tub? This network still owes her a great role, hopefully this is it. Do Mia Kirshner and Emmanuelle Vaugier just flip a coin when role calls for sexy petite brunette Canadian actress? They may be interchangeable.

Interesting if familiar. Fast moving 2 hrs. I'll stick with it.
2
Reply
Flag
Fantastic pilot. Just a small regret The end. A few more episodes before the introduction of the EX Mayor as "the Vilain" would have been good
1
Reply
Flag
I think that the idea is that the real surprise isn't Mayor Nicolette as villain - it's the nature and aim of the conspiracy, which will probably be a story arc that unfolds over several episodes.

I wasn't that surprised that the old Mayor was a baddie, as they'd gone to such an effort to feature and build her up throughout the episode. I am intrigued by what she's up to.
3
Reply
Flag
May be I'm slow, but premise was so confusing. From the beginning they said Earth was invaded by Votans, alien race (something like that). Then we see huge variety of freaks (abnormally pale white dudes and females, chewbacca-like person, dude with white gauze wrapped around his face (BDSM freaky I say), adopted daugher with weird nose. After all that circus we went fighting with some transformers-like creatures (who's that? another aliens?). And why do they need to fight back if in premise it was said that people and aliens got peace agreement and were living together in joy and happiness. WTF? Too much confusion for my poor brain) And I was hoping for big city life instead we get small town (not known for anyone else on Earth I bet) with mayor (!) who goes fighting with soldiers against deadly transformers. I smell here Wild West kinda story. Brothel and all. So then Votans are different looking race of aliens? And who is doggy (oran-utan) looking person? Why is nobody afraid of him?) Messy. But let's see second episode.
Reply
Flag
The Votans are a collection of alien species from a star system called Votanis. The "huge variety of freaks" that you describe are representative of the different species that make up the Votans - there are, on Earth, 7 in all (an 8th species is believed to be extinct).

The abnormally pale white people are the Casithans; the chewbacca-like person is a Liberata; the gauze people (which, I think that's there actual skin) are Indogene; the adopted daughter is a Irathient; the orangutan like people are Sensoths; and the transformers are the Volge (a war-like species who aren't included in the peace). There's also the Gulanee, who I don't think we've seen as of the first episode (they're balls of energy), and the Biomen (the blue guy that Nolan fought), who are synthetic, sentient life-forms created by the humans.
Reply
Flag
I wasn't as confused, but will agree that a lot of the exposition you were looking for didn't happen in the episode. Maybe because the writers were lazy or couldn't fit it all in. Though it's very likely that they just didn't see the need since the show isn't meant to be stand-alone, but is instead twinned with the video game (to which they're hoping to attract players) and has been supported by expository promo/behind- the-scenes videos and wiki websites.

The worst, in terms of things-not-explained, for me was the Volge (the Transformer- like Big Bads in this episode).

I had to look them up, to find out that they're a war-like Voltan race feared by the rest. The Voltans planning the trip to Earth purposely excluded them, so everyone was surprised to see them emerge from Ark ships at the end of their journey. Apparently, they fought fiercely during the Pale Wars and after the end of hostilities retreated into underground caverns and have seldom been seen since.

This is all from a wiki. There was nothing in this episode that even really hinted at that. The most we get (from Pale Wars vet, Nolan) is some info about their fighting capabilities.
More +
Reply
Flag
Didn't the intro say that the Votans were a combination of various alien races?

And they weren't living in peace and love: they more-or-less stopped the war because they realized they'd already screwed the place up so much that continuing would be worthless... keep going and the planet would be uninhabitable to anyone.

Heck, the American Civil War between the North and the South STILL has lingering resentment here-and-there. And that was a WHILE ago as opposed to the show's 20-30 years.
3
Reply
Flag
lol you have got to be trollin. you've left your opinion countless times...each more bizarre than the last. i want a show about you.
1
Reply
Flag
I enjoyed the premiere, especially because it felt like they needed the whole 2 hours to do it, if they had split in in two it would have felt like they didnt have enough faith in the show to give it a serious try to find an audience at it's pace. (cough* cough* Firefly**cough Space: above and cough Beyond) )

Maybe its not going to be as well written but the premise is a good one. And since I don't watch anything in that timeslot anyway, i'll give it a shot. and since Revoultion isn't a great show, it would be nice to have it as a backup on the old TiVo.

I love Jaime Murray on a visceral level, so more scenes of her in the skimpy outfits are going to go a long way in keeping me coming back. Though the only person on tv who wears more makeup on the sides of their noses are Julie Chen and the cast of The TALK. I almost didn't recognize her.

Maybe it's not perfect yet, but neither was Eureka and I came to love that show. And it's nice to have a sci-fi show not just a fantasy/horror show again. no offense but Warehouse 13 is not entertaining.
More+
1
Reply
Flag
A very solid start that didn't have anything groan-worthy or objectionable. As the review noted, it danced between genres rather deftly. I look forward to seeing if it can keep the quality steady in the future.

The "twist" at the very end seems like the kind that could be very easily mishandled, but we'll see.
1
Reply
Flag
Thought the show was a harmless little piece.
Reply
Flag
I loved it! Very well done. I needed a fix of real sci-fi. After all my favorite shows are gone from Farscape, Babylon 5, the Star Trek series, Battlestar etc... THANK YOU for giving me something to watch again ;-)
4
Reply
Flag
CASH NEVER DIES! Easily best part of the episode in my humble opinion, when Irisa cued in on Junes part it was tv gold from the start. Im up for a few more. its too bad the game isnt near as well made as the show.
3
Reply
Flag
I liked the premiere, am excited about the show, and there's little else for me to say that hasn't been said below about that.
One thing I do have, though (and not about the show), can we all agree to not call it "FOX's 'Firefly'"? Because while it WAS HBO's "Deadwood", most people associate "Firefly" with Joss Whedon than with the network that butchered its delivery. So "Joss Whedon's 'Firefly'" it should be (as it says on the DVD set) because more people know it from that than they do from when it actually aired on TV.
2
Reply
Flag
I completeley agree with you. On the other hand, you have to keep in mind that people know it's Fox because they remember it was Fox that cancelled that show. But that's no reason to grant them the honour of connecting their name to Firefly.
Reply
Flag
I went to the Defiance website, read the backstory and was just totally thrilled and enthralled. What a brilliant idea they came up with for a show! Then I watched the series premiere and boy, what a letdown. Not good casting at all (the lead actor, Grant Bowler, reminds one of a drunk uncle), I can't remember one thing anyone said (in part because I fast-forwarded six times during the episode), the battle with the Volge was boring, the Hellbugs weren't scary at all...dang it! All that potential and that's what ends up on screen. I think it would have been better if this series had started with the backstory (go to the website and check it out, it really is fascinating) and then eventually reached Defiance. That and better actors.
2
Reply
Flag
Obviously, you're a "Hooray for everything" fan (I'm the same way about Breaking Bad and Justified), but these are lower-tier actors. I'm surprised Benz keeps managing to find work, although in this show she's actually adequate.
Reply
Flag
the actors that I listed are not lower tier actors, trust me lesser known movies straight to video now those are lower tier!!
Reply
Flag
nothing wrong with actors Julie Benz, Jamie Murray, Mia Kirshner Grant Bowler, plus Stephanie Leonidas were awesome just maybe they will do a Continuum and have flashbacks!!
3
Reply
Flag
just like Orphan Black seen the commercials for Defiance, then waiting and more waiting, just like Orphan Black I was not disappointed at all, fucking awesome pilot that's all I'm going to say!!!
1
Reply
Flag
But "Orphan Black" still much much better.
1
Reply
Flag
yes Orphan Black is better
Reply
Flag
You never get the feeling that when there are two or three 'orphans' in a scene that all three were shot at different times. You watch it with a feeling that there are distinct personalities with their own seperate agenda, sometimes in the same scene. Tatiana Maslany hits her marks like a screen veteran and you never notice a delayed reaction or stray glance, its like watching the way Dean Stockwell did it on 'Battlestar Galactica' - it is some of the best direction/best acting or both.
1
Reply
Flag
It wasn't bad. I'll give it another week to decide if I'm going to stick with it. Something that bugged me was the Arch with the keystone missing. It cannot stand in that condition.
2
Reply
Flag
everyone who liked it should defend it on the imdb boards to ward off the trolls.
Reply
Flag
Granted, my expectations have been dramatically lowered by the suckitude that was Terra Nova and Revolution and I was multitasking aka not paying that much attention to the TV, but I think liked it!! It was far less cheesy than I was expecting, the dialogue was aight, the characters interesting, and the world already more layered and developed in one episode than Revolution did in a full season (did it? I don't know, I stopped watching after the pilot). And best of all, it's NOT trying to be family friendly, the death sentence of many a scifi show.

OK, there is a LOT of theft from other works. 'Sweetheart'? Are you freaking kidding me?? Unless you are Han Solo (nope sorry Nolan, you ain't.) you don't get to say that. Also they straight-up copied Centurion sound effects from BSG. Plenty of the dialogue was silly. They still say 'ya feel me' in the future? I feel like no one says that now. Does St Louis even have a subway system?

I couldn't distinguish between all the redheaded Irathient(?) chicks- is that racist? There were like three and their prosthetics/wigs looked exactly like the daughter's! I don't know, I wasn't really focused on the TV. And for that reason I still don't understand what's up with all the aliens or why one kind want to kill everyone or how they all even got there and how Earth got all messed up. Hopefully the "previously on" on the next episode will clear all that up, cuz I'm not about to re-watch it.
More+
2
Reply
Flag
I did not watch Terra Nova due to Fox's quick axe reputation, but I have been lucky with Touch and The Following sorry off topic, so I can't comment on Terra Nova, but I do watch Revolution and I like a lot!! Defiance is different from both of them this should bring SYFY into SYFY
Reply
Flag
There were definitely some eye rolling moments here...

The 'sheriff' gets killed, who cares! And most of what happened during the big fight scene did not make a lot of sense either (it was like seeing a bunny defeat a dragon...by tickling it to death)

But overall it was not bad, and there is a real lack of good sci-fi at, so I'll take it!


1
Reply
Flag
Sheriff (Peter MacNeill) had a much more important role to return to.
Reply
Flag
the sheriff (lawmaker) was an obvious set up for nolan taking him place (think eureka) and and him defeating the bio-mechanical man was due to his "finding it's off switch)
2
Reply
Flag
Yes, you could see the lawmaker's demise from a long way away.

Re. the bioman, I think the idea here is that not everyone knows that they have an off switch. Nolan knows because he was in the military (who developed the biomen). He's even knowledgeable about different models of bioman. So, he bided his time, letting the bioman beat him, for awhile, before shutting it/him off.

Could be that thorthorsen when s/he writes about the "big fight scene" though means the fight between the Volge and the townspeople.

I enjoyed that sequence but it did play out as completely unrealistic. The Volge were wearing heavy body armor and suited up in Transformer-like fighting machines and the Defiance villagers were still picking them off at a phenomenal rate.

Fun to watch, but the definition of unrealistic, as well.
2
Reply
Flag
is it me or defiance is just Eureka but with all sorts of aliens?
2
Reply
Flag
The tone of the show is different, and it's much more violent. But they do have a lot in common. The guy who rode into town and became sheriff even had his daughter with him. It also has a lot in common with Terra Nova: Small town surrounded by a fence that protects them from the monsters outside.
1
Reply
Flag
i rolled my eyes 3-4 times, i get "paying homage" to other works, but come on, the guy arrives and gets to be sheriff just like terranova, the romeo and juliet references were spoonfed to us, heck even the bath/conspiracy scene was exactly the same as the one in spartacus, where that actress also worked. i get using archetypes, but do you have to use them for every main character?
2
Reply
Flag
You forgot what has to become a romantic triangle between the hooker/barkeep, the mayor, and the new sheriff.
Reply
Flag
The show was very enjoyable even though most of the characters, stories, and sets were borrowed from every sci-fi title that came before it. I can't wait to enter the world in the video game next.
2
Reply
Flag
I don't know if they will explore the back-story at all, (I don't think it was mentioned in the opening voiceover) but I'm curious how seven different races all decided to invade Earth simultaneously.
Reply
Flag
Well, it definitely looks better than Terranova so I am in! LOL!
3
Reply
Flag
absolute drek
2
Reply
Flag
Ok, gonna give it another week but I'm not real impressed. Several things bugged me. Besides the stuff I mentioned below, it is a bit annoying that pretty much nothing in this show is new, it seems to be themes from half a dozen other shows cut and pasted together. Also none of the characters or actors particularly intrigued me. The dramatic moments felt flat, the mayors speech was about as cliches as it gets (plus thru the whole thing I couldnt get Jericho out of my head). Also, the language is a bit lame. In this future world they still use phrases like "ya feel me" and feel the need to replace "car" with "roller" and "sheriff" with "lawmaker"? Speaking of sheriff, what was with the original sheriff and his Dog the Bounty Hunter trenchcoat?? Cheesy and cliche. And the daughter reminds me of Charlie from Revolution.. always brooding or angry w only 2 facial expressions. I'm not tossing it out yet, as I have a general rule about giving new shows at least a couple eps to get going, but so far this show is a fail to me.
5
Reply
Flag
Oh, the overuse of "schtako" was really annoying too. We get it, u came up w an alien word for shit, cute. But it gets old the 4th or 5th time it's used in one episode.

Also, am I the only one that was annoyed whenever the alien doctor spoke because it sounded like she was struggling to speak thru the makeup? Sounded like my wife when she's desperately trying not to crack her facial mask.
2
Reply
Flag
Yes, it will be tough with the Indogene characters because you can't get a read on them through facial expressions or eye movements. And you're right about the strangled voice effect. Ywell is kind of interesting because she's salty, but could well get annoying. We'll see.
1
Reply
Flag
That was never the case with BSG's 'frak' which could be used in so many entertaining ways and hasn't gotten old to this day.
1
Reply
Flag
The best one was that Adama's shaving mirror was an IKEA product called "Fräck".
1
Reply
Flag
"This world has no natives." - Joshua Nolan

I was IMMEDIATELY hooked!

The opening scene with Nolan and Irisa was a stroke of genius. A sci-fi show as expansive and ambitious as Defiance could have done any number of things to start the series, but they showed a father asking forgiveness from his adopted, alien daughter. And in one glorious Johnny Cash/June Carter duet, we not only learned the depth of their relationship, but in less than 5 minutes I was already emotionally invested in their future.

Science Fiction is my favourite genre (shocker, I know). I love aliens (lots of aliens!), fictional technology (for now...), time travel, space exploration, futuristic settings and all things geeky under the GV2 class star (geek-speak for sun). But EVERY show I've ever loved, be it sci-fi, drama or comedy, is first and foremost character driven. Defiance was VERY encouraging in this regard.

Not only is there a built-in mythology, complete with Arkfalls (the debris from the destroyed Ark fleet now forms an artificial "Ark belt" in Earth orbit, which periodically rains down in small scale "Arkfalls", which present a hazard for survivors on the surface, but also provide valuable opportunities to salvage advanced technology aboard the Arks), a radically changed biosphere (so much new animalistic races and strange plant life to discover!), seven different kinds of Votans with histories and complex social structures of their own (a Castithan, a Indogene and a Irathient walk into a bar...), but there is also a collection of characters that I want to get to know better. Nothing brings people back to a TV show more than caring about the protagonists.

Defiance is indeed a hodgepodge of several sci-fi fare that has come before it, but I can't for the life of me understand why some people would construe this as a bad thing. I LIKE being plopped into a world that is fully realized. I LIKE customized curses and slang words. I LIKE advanced (and fictional) technology that makes absolutely no sense to me. I LIKE being turned on by hot looking aliens (in this case of the alabaster variety). I felt tinges of Star Trek, Star Wars Firely and BSG while watching Defiance, and I say that in the most complimentary of ways.

The pilot wasn't perfect (I didn't care for the cliche mayor speech or Nolan falling into the Sheriff's role so easily... Romeo and Juliet also felt pretty bland to me), but the positives GREATLY outweigh the negatives.

Will I be watching go forward? Shtacco(?), yeah!

(P.S. I've read a lot of complaints about the special effects. Personally, I thought they were quite serviceable. Only once when the view was through Nolan and Irisa's Rover did it look noticeably and distractingly bad. But at other times I thought the CGI was beautifully done. The opening and closing scenes come to mind.)
More+
14
Reply
Flag
I'm surprised you liked it so much. I barely made it through the episode. I didn't like anything about it.
1
Reply
Flag
I loved the opening scene as well...
2
Reply
Flag
Right? Totally endearing.
Reply
Flag
"This world has no natives" was a pretty stupid line considering human are native to earth. Terraformed or not, its still earth and humans are native to the planet.
2
Reply
Flag
It's a figure of speech. And from what I saw of the Terraformed earth, a fairly accurate one.
3
Reply
Flag
does syfy pay its plants well? i need a gig
Reply
Flag
I really hate when the aliens in a sci-fi project act like humans. What's the point of having a character with a pale skin and strange eyes, if he's going to act just like the next human?...
There were interesting moments tho, I'll give it a chance for several more episodes.
Reply
Flag
There is a difference between a "nod" to another show and a blatant ripoff.
1
Reply
Flag
What I'm really curious about is how much did the first episode cost?
Because last year there was a show called Terra Nova who got cancelled because supposedly was really expensive to produce...
And this one did had its special effects, but will it hold in the long run ?
Reply
Flag
That is an excellent point. Terra Nova was too expensive for Fox, I cant imagine SyFy can afford to do this every week. I'm guessing in future eps the cgi will be heavily toned down.
Reply
Flag
That's probably part of the reason why the show is set in a small town. They can then choose to have all the action happen in a small area and even to make this more drama than action series. That would lower the costs - given that there will always be extensive makeup and staffing costs.
Reply
Flag
Good potential show. Much better than the recently cancelled Steven Spielberg fiasco show about new world. What's its name?
1
Reply
Flag
Ok, I'm only about 20mins in so far and I have to say the story and characters are gonna have to be pretty darn good for me to watch this show because so far it's cheesy looking makeup effects, cgi that looks like it belongs in Lawnmower Man, a Mad Max alien motorcycle gang w a penchant for Clockwork Orange style, and really silly alien spiderbearcrabs. Hoping this is good, but it's not looking to hot right now.
2
Reply
Flag
Right. That part put me off too. I made it to the end, only to find out that the evil aliens look even sillier, and that the people in the show are dumber than the ones in The Following.
1
Reply
Flag
I can see this being a fun show to watch show. I agree the first episode did a good job at introducing all the major players and getting us to care about one of two story lines while setting up the over arching plot for the season/show.

I also really enjoyed the chemistry between some of the characters. That whole love triangle thing they are setting up between Nolan, Amanda and Kenya will probably lead to much hilarity. The actors also have good chemistry which helps. I can see the Irisa/Tommy UST playing out well also. Unfortunately the whole R&J Christie/Alek house against house story arc is just not as interesting. All the plotting scenes have the same beats as the plotting scenes in shows like Spartacus, GoT, etc but they lack the intensity (and yes the nudity). They felt like the characters going through the motions of plotting but not really caring either way.

I also want an entire episode of the doctor just pointing out how stupid everyone is being. Having said that, I really hope they don't over play that character.

Media nods that I noticed/felt while watching

Firefly (Nolah is a lot like Mal a vagabond with a heart of gold)
Spartacus (the bath scene just screamed SEXY PLOTS WITHIN PLOTS TIME and if they were on HBO there would have been nudity)
GoT
R&J (star crossed)
Farscape (makeup and aliean swearing)
StarGate (effects which isn't surprising seeing as how it's Syfy)
Eureka (guy and daught comer into town and end up as sherif)
Revolution
Rosewell (The diary bit that bookends each episode)
Falling Skies
V
Dune (obviously that one race is all about the Spice)
More+
1
Reply
Flag
I didn't expect anything and ended up liking the pilot. Yes, the CGI scenes look like cutscenes from a video game, some dialogue and shots are cliche and other little things were a bit off. But the world seems well drawn out which makes me forgive minor details and want to see more. The potential is definitely there. "Cool. Cool, cool, cool."
5
Reply
Flag
it is clearly to make the game play feel more like the show, so that even if you can't be in the same town you can feel like you're in the same world.
Reply
Flag
I've been waiting to use that patented Abed phrase to describe an episode of Community all season. Sadly, I don't think it will ever happen. But Defiance is definitely deserving of such high praise (for its pilot, at least).

Oh, and Stahma Tarr is "Hot. Hot, hot, hot."
3
Reply
Flag
First thing I thought when I saw the Castithans: Richmond from The IT Croud.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12LLJFSBnS4
Reply
Flag
My favorite part of this show is that hot pale alien chick.
3
Reply
Flag
Total VILF!
5
Reply
Flag
hubba hubba!
1
Reply
Flag
I didn't like it. I didn't like how things looked, in particular some of the alien species. I didn't like the alien monsters hanging out in the woods. I wasn't impressed by any of the characters or any of the actors. I didn't like that aliens and humans want to have sex with each other. I hated the fact that the people in town all joined the fight when they had absolutely no chance of surviving it (unless someone has a superweapon that they haven't told anyone about). The battle was pretty ridiculous too. Not sure if I will watch more episodes. This one didn't make me curious about what will happen next.
Reply
Flag
What were you expecting? What would you want to see?
Reply
Flag
I was expecting exactly this.

I would have wanted something that looks better and feels more real. I would have wanted a more interesting premise. More interesting people in a more interesting situation. I would have wanted people to *not* make the choice that would obviously get them all killed unless a miracle occurs.
Reply
Flag
Had you not watched the promos or read the background on the show before watching? That would have set your expectations about the characters and settings and even some of the plot choices (Grant Bowler talked about it being a kind of Western - in those, you often have characters taking a stand that will likely result in their deaths).
Reply
Flag
tnetennba, I understand what you're saying about their chances against the Volge, but

1) there are, irrational as it may be, often people who make choices like that [to die fighting, rather to leave what they've built or the place where they were born] 2) their other choices were limited. Given the badlands surrounding the town (there was a reason for the force fields protecting it, after all), the speed of the advancing army and the number of people who would have to be evacuated, how far away from the Volge could they have gotten in the time they had and how safe would that new place be?

I didn't have a problem with the "last stand" plot device here (because I think it was just the writers way of getting to the battle scene as well as trying to establish the new mayor and Nolan's authority/usefulness), especially as Defiance is styling itself as a kind of sci-fi western.

What really didn't make sense was the townspeople beating the Volge with very few casualties. I suspended disbelief as I watched, but think that was a ridiculous plot point.
Flag
Why are you asking that? I already told you that the pilot was what I expected it to be. (Yes, I saw some kind of trailer months ago).

This particular "stand" was like "a hundred tanks are coming this way to kill us, and we either have to run, or the 50 of us will have to fight them off with our horse whips". It's not like they were just slightly outnumbered. They had absolutely no chance of winning.
Flag
I really enjoyed the Pilot! Awesome to have a proper sci-fi show to watch again. I'm definitely sold for the rest of the season.
2
Reply
Flag
I'm completely sold on the show. Awesome cast and it's very much on par quality wise with SGU and Caprica. looking forward to the next episode.
2
Reply
Flag
So, who else thinks the tall bodyguard creature with the little dog looks like a mix of Harry Henderson (Bigfoot), a Predator, and maybe Chewbacca? Great show tho'....
1
Reply
Flag
Looked like an old fat Harry for sure.
Reply
Flag
It was a bit dull in places and had some laboured moments, notably the 'what it is to be mayor' scenes.
The fact that some of Farscape's lot are behind this is inescapable, what with the new words for swears, style of scenery and characters within. On this basis I'm prepared to give it a few episodes to settle in, as Farscape was character driven as opposed to effect laden with little else - unlike so much tv/movies of late.
1
Reply
Flag
I liked it. All the characters seem to be known, and we know what kind of people they are and weren't knocked over the head with it. Nor we're they overdone o the point where they come off like a comic book . It might have been too soon to make Nolan the Law keeper, but if done well it will work fine. If they keep him hopping over the line so to speak. But over all, good.
4
Reply
Flag
Top Shelf all the way! This show will go all the way baby (I Hope anyway). I really was looking forward to this show and it did not disappoint. Sci-fi is back and I hope to stay. With the looks of it SyFy seems to be rolling out a few new shows with the science fiction tag on it so this is good! I know the management said they were going back to their roots but I wasn't sure how truthful that was until now. They have a real winner here and Trion (The company who makes the game) has deep pockets and lots of investors who are willing to take this game and show all the way. I hope to see at least 5 seasons when its all said and done.
1
Reply
Flag
Load More Comments

Like TV.com on Facebook

  • 8:30 pm
    Judge Judy
    NEW
    CBS
  • 9:00 pm
    What Would You Do?
    NEW
    ABC
  • 10:00 pm
    ABC