Hey TV.com, Should I Watch Syfy's Defiance?

There's a huge crater in the American television landscape where good science-fiction—and I'm talking real science fiction, not dudes in chainmail or pale, emo vampires—used to be. Fringe is retired, Battlestar Galactica is long gone, and Falling Skies' brief moments of greatness are frequently overshadowed by extended bouts of mediocrity. Syfy is looking to fill that void with its ambitious new series Defiance, a "space opera" without all the space that's set on a future version of Earth full of aliens and crumbling familiar landmarks. 

But is Defiance the next great science-fiction series in the vein of Battlestar Galactica, is it another in a long line of niche science-fiction projects that won't break the mainstream, or is it just plain garbage? I've seen the pilot episode, so let's sit down, have a chat, and figure out whether it's right for you in another edition of "Hey TV.com, Should I Watch This Brand Spankin' New Show?"


What is this Defiance show?

Defiance is set a few decades in the future after a bunch of aliens—a collective of seven races known as the Votans—try to land on Earth in hopes of living here, unaware that it's already occupied by us humans. Eventually war breaks out, then peace breaks out, and humans and aliens live together on a planet  that's been decimated by war. Our hero is Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler, the Dick from Liz & Dick and Lost's Captain Gault), a Han Solo/Malcolm Reynolds type who's got an adopted alien daughter named Irisa (British actress Stephanie Leonidas, in a face full of makeup). They spend their days trying to make a quick buck doing odd jobs, and one day they arrive in the town of Defiance (formerly St. Louis), which has a new mayor (Dexter's Julie Benz) and one big problem headed its way. Expect lots of sci-fi talk, a deep backstory, and plenty of cultural misunderstandings and racially charged dust-ups against a Western-tinged backdrop. 


Who's behind the show?

That would be Rockne S. O'Bannon, the creator of sci-fi shows seaQuest DSV, Farscape, and Cult. Kevin Murphy (Caprica) and Michael Taylor (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager) are also on board as writer-producers.


When does Defiance land on the televisions of Earth?

Defiance should be taken to your leaders on Monday, April 15 at 9pm. It's a two-hour premiere, so make sure you get plenty of shut-eye to make it all the way through, because 11pm is way past your bedtime but we're letting you stay up for this one.


Who's going to like Defiance?

Well, this one's obvious. The series is targeted at pretty hardcore science-fiction fans who don't mind being dropped into a gigantic universe and soaking up the alien races, slang, and weird-shaped foreheads. Crossover into the mainstream seems like a stretch here, so if you aren't into corny alien names and guns that go "pew pew," you can safely pass on this. The next Battlestar Galactica it is not.


Let's hear some positives about Defiance?

For a pilot with so many characters and so much backstory to cover, Defiance does a good job of establishing its world, but you'll probably need to use Wikipedia or the Defiance website to stay abreast of what's going on and who's who. I don't want to say it's as complex as Game of Thrones, but that thought did cross my mind more than once. Defiance borrows a lot from other properties and many of its storylines are things you've seen before (a war between families gets complicated by their kids falling in love, a new job proves overwhelming for an inexperienced leader, etc.), but the initial simplicity is welcome as the show's world is large and your attention can stay focused on keeping the many races and characters straight. The show also moves at a solid pace, partly because it's a mash-up of all sorts of genres; it covers political thrillers, action movies, soap operas, and even some crime drama without feeling scattered. I definitely wasn't bored! As for the vaunted special effects, sometimes they're impressive, but I'm hesitant to give them a complete review until I see the final version of the pilot in high-definition (the screeners were labeled as "rough cuts" even though they looked pretty final, and DVD-quality video is for cavemen). Plus there's a huge blue "bio man" with giant neck muscles and some mech warfare, so that's cool.
  

Where does Defiance fall short
?

A lot of little things here and there. The dialogue isn't especially crackling and can be plain old stinky, and the world isn't fully realized as far as visuals are concerned—sometimes Defiance looks like some sort of bizarre Renaissance Faire. It's also full of cliches, but it's such a busy show with so much going on that they're not as painful as they could be. And regardless of whether or not I've seen them in HD, I can tell some of the show's effects won't be up to snuff.  


Well, should I watch it or not?

I was surprised at how invested I felt by the end of the pilot, and I'm ready to throw in another episode. It may not be the next BSG, but it could easily be on par with any of the Stargates. There aren't many other programs on right now that offer a space-alien fix, and Defiance is definitely cheesy at times, but its ambition overshadows its cliches. Watch it with medium expectations and you'll be pleasantly surprised.


Can I see a trailer?

Sure!




What should I drink during my viewing of
Defiance?

Something blue, glowing, and smoking. Maybe blueberry Kool-Aid, vodka, and dry ice? Or Windex with a glow stick and a smoke bomb in it?


Defiance premieres Monday, April 15 at 9pm on Syfy.

Comments (166)
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at the start of the pilot, where the two stars are singing one of Johnny Cash's biggest hits, has to be one of the best sci-fi opening scenes i've ever seen. they make it seem so real in such a surreal situation. kudos to the writer!
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seriously, "Earth has no natives" was the line that turned me off of this show, its still earth, no matter what invaders have done to it. I hate the aliens, i hate the show, and fuck Syfy.
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itsucks. dont watch
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After having scene the pilot, I'm now quite intrigued. I have to say, the CG for a television show was quite top-notch, which really impressed me. Terra Nova, for all the money they were spending on that show, had pretty lackluster CGI by comparison.

Really enjoyed some of the characters (the doctor especially), which definitely goes a long way to keeping a sci-fi show interesting. If they can keep up the level of quality of the pilot, I'll be sticking around for a good while. Guess I'll have to wait for next week's episode to find out.
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Probably a random comment but was anyone else surprised by Jamie Murray's lack of accent?
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Lack of accent? I thought her generic american accent was pretty good after adjusting to it for a scene or two. This show is the 1st I've seen her take it out for a spin.
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Apologies, I meant lack of British accent. Everything I've seen her in she has it.
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I am definitely going to watch it. I just hope that its not another revenge type kill the aliens show. SyFy is still alive as long as they have Warehouse 13.
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I watched 15 minutes of this first episode and quickly tired of it. Too many subtitles for one thing. Yet another show that I didn't like from the offset. My standards get higher as I age, but less and less entertainment meats my requirements. More time to spend outside then
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made three attempts to watch this so far but the graphics look horrible om my screen, no matter which version. i though i had some kinda unfinished pirated copy - a la wolverine some years back - but now that i know it's just bad graphics. i'll try again.
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This is not SF. SF means babylon 5, Star Trek, Andromeda, BSG...you get my point?!
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Maybe in your head it doesn't but Science Fiction means, fiction based on science so this series pretty much covers it for now. Just because it's not based in space doesn't mean it's not SciFi.
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By ur logic LOST is also SF. Ur brainwashed !
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Maybe he meant Space fiction =P
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you wouldn't know if it hit you in the face
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I give it a try, but I'm certain its not my thing. I realy tried but sci fi is tripple-not my thing
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Surprised there was no mention of the MMO running parallel to the show with content that may influence each other, even as a blurb.
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Yeah I was too. The game is an important part given that this is a first attempt at crossing over between a game and TV show. It will be interesting to see how much each influences the other.
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I liked the pilot. What gave me the most hope for the future of the show (and its continued improvement) were little character interactions that showed the writers aren't only interested in cool aliens, ships, and stuff that blows up real good. There was a fair amount of humor, and I'd like to see more of that.

Some of the casting is really good -- Grant Bowler, Stephanie Leonidas, Jaime Murray -- while a number of the other roles are just miscast. BSG, on the other hand, had pretty strong actors all the way around, and most of them really owned their respective roles. Defiance is more along the lines of Falling Skies in this regard -- although the caliber of actors on FS is *generally* much better. I also don't think Defiance is nearly as good a show as Falling Skies, but it's not really fair to compare the two, until we see a few more episodes of this. Like I said, I'm hoping it'll continue to pick up steam, and maybe some of the actors who didn't register with me will find themselves aligning more with their characters and becoming more interesting to watch.
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Really? you say its on par with Stargate? I'll give you SG1 and SGU, maybe. But Atlantis? That was GOLDEN. <3 stargate
But I agree with some of the other comments: if its sci-fi I'll watch it. Gotta take what I can get.
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Syfy is dead without Stargate
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I don't trust Syfy - they cancel any sci-fi show that costs more than a reality ghost chasing farce regardless of how good it is or how many viewers it has. I won't touch anything on this network with the current ownership.
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Hope this one gets a fair chance!
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No matter what , if it's science fiction, I am watching it.One always hopes that it will be a great show, so I am crossing my fingers and hope for the best.
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Trailer looks good, i might give it a go
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I´ve been waiting a long time for a proper Farscape replacement and this one sounds promising so fingers crossed ... one question though did I accidently watched another BSG or is it the same mediocre show that was only interesting because of Katee Sackhoff???
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i prefer the original bsg, the new bsg concentrate too much on religion also it did not have the son of apollo mechanical dog.
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You had me at 'Rockne S O'Bannon'. But you sealed the deal with 'Julie Benz' :-)
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Hell ya!!! Lots of characters, a little dark, a little cheesy and funny, action and drama, story driven, and the possibility of getting to know the politics before another war breaks out, kind of like Deep Space 9. And the best thing is that its not trying to be BSG cause that's a recipe for disaster.
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i was thinking of babylon 5.
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I will watch it but one thing is for sure it ain't no Stargate but with the way syfy is cutting it's science fiction and putting what I like to call crap on instead I don't think I will invest myself into it too much. syfy had great shows on but they always cut them. Instead of bringing out new shows how about bringing back what was good and people enjoyed watching.
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stargate > bsg
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For the sake of getting great tv in the future, can't we all just agree that BSG is a far superior piece of sci-fi than Stargate? BSG may have gotten a little convoluted towards then, but they rolled the hard six and for the most part, it was freakin' epic.
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Nope, can't agree. BSG was entertaining but definitely preachy tripe. The mythology stories in Stargate where far more developed and original than BSG redux with a heavy touch of bible thumping.
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Yep!
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I'm definitely going to watch it. First of all, I love sci fi, even if it's not the greatest sci fi, and secondly I don't have anything else to watch on Monday, so there's no competition.
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I'm a little annoyed... I'd rather they air the Lost Girl season finale tonight and hold off on this series premier until next week OR the week after (when Warehouse 13 starts up again).

The episode just prior to the Lost Girl season finale set things up to be quite an episode episode.

Beyond that though... Mostly just Adventure Time, Castle, and sometimes HIMYM
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I love Lost Girl, too. (some of this season has been annoying though)
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I need some good sci fi and Farscape is my fave show so I hope this will be good.
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As much as I love Rockne O'Bannon, this is a pass for me. The "tie into a video game" angle is worrisome, and it just has a cheap look for it. Plus, it's a show that had a giant billboard at Comic-Con last year, shows with giant billboards at Comic-Con are always terrible and usually quickly ignored by the public. And then to hear it's full of hacky cliches? Wow, this is just a recipe for a pass. I want to like, but it's got the stink of Siffy screwups.

Annoyingly, I had to vote "Maybe" because I'm definitely not watching this, but aliens ARE my thing.
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One word. "FARSCAPE". The fact that the creator of this show was behind that masterpiece should be reason enough to take this very seriously.
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Likewise I cant believe that a review of this show doesnt even touch on the whole video game link. From what I understand the best characters in the online world stand a chance of showing up in the TV show. An innovative idea that could help viewing figures.
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A proper Sci-Fi show? Yes, please.
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I'll watch the 1st ep & see if it's worth going on from there. Ridiculous & cheap TV-looking aliens tend to repel me from a sci-fi show like an athiest from a cross, but if the story is good enough to entertain me, I can try harder to overlook that crap as I go along.
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You're thinking of vampires, or churches, respectively. Crosses don't work on atheists.
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Nope. Not thinking of vampires or churches. Crosses definitely work on atheists. They repel some, sicken some, make some hiss & can even produce uncontrollable laughter. It really depends more on mindset of the cross wielder than the atheist, but I promise ya, that shit works :P
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I just don't understand why they skip the war, but concentrate on social lifes in multi racial, or what ever, town. I know that for war is Falling skies or sky, I don't remember the correct title, but I remembered that it sucked. I would totaly watch something in Mass Effect direction. That game is cool as Antarctica, and show would be about absolute zero cool.
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Babylon 5 lent itself very well to a TV show financially, while sci-fi like Star Trek Enterprise or Deep Space Nine were not. The main reason for this was because each episode of Babylon 5 took place on Babylon 5. By resusing the same set piece, they saved money on production, while the aforementioned shows would take place on different planets every episode, creating huge production costs. This is most likley what the writers were thinking picking this time to start the show. They can base each episode inside the town of Defiance and save money by only building one set.
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true but there is room for expansion of this new Earth for example in time creating a new city to be defiance's foe.
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I gues that makes sense.
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Many shows pick up in the middle of the story's timeline. I think this may be in order to create lore and mythology. I think in order for there to be that in a show, it must have backstory, and revealed piece by piece as the story developes. It is a tried-and-true form a storytelling.I see it happen a lot. Firefly started after the rebellion, Star Wars after Anakin was Vader, Babylon 5 started with Baqbylon 5 already built, BSG started after the Cylon War, ect.
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I'm right by St. Louis so I have to watch just for that reason and find out how mountains came around. :P
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watched it online, didn't like it a bit, too many characters, too dark, boring....
since shows I like get cancelled I bet this one will do great, but it'll be without me :)
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I'm very much looking forward to this show. But! I kind of resent your implication that the Stargates are somehow less than BSG. I absolutely love the Stargates, but try as I might, I can't make it through BSG. I'm stalled at the end of season 1 (actually, about halfway through the last episode) and I just can't get myself to watch more. I mean, I liked it. But I still can't get through it. :P
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Tim, I have to ask... How can you not mention at all in this page that this show is linked to a video game? It's not like something like this happens all the time, and many people I'm sure would be interested by that fact.
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..also. i'll give Defiance a try but i'm not holding out hope. This is the Syfy channel. they love to cancel great shows and add more crap like 'wrestling' and 'real' ghost stories. puke.
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Saying it was not going to be another BSG just made me wanna watch it more. :)
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Excuse me?!! Falling Skies is awesome! the only downside is that it's a summer program and we have long bouts of waiting for another season to start.
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i like falling skies too, but there are haters out there that if a show doesn't match their perfect idea, they only show hate, tv.com never gives it good reviews, but if, like me, you enjoy something just enjoy it, and ignore the haters... also as a secondary comment to something said earlier, stargate shows were much better than BSG :)
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It's not bad. There will never be another Star Trek but it could be a Babylon 5. The alien women are kinda cute the acting's solid enough and I like the soundtrack. Too early to tell but if I was a betting man I'd give it 5 seasons and an unexpected cancellation.
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It seems interesting... but if it's as expensive as I've heard then it will have to pull in some strong numbers to stay on the air more than a season or two.
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Its free on amazon right now!

Ive watched it and looks promissing but i hope they will show more of what happend in the war and not only be set in the town.
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Finally! Since they've released the first trailer I can't wait to see "Defiance". Just few more hours!
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I've been looking forward to it for *ages*; can't wait......
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I won't give it a try at all due to the fact that I am very hesitant to start watching shows on networks that have a history of cancelling good shows. Also, because of the fact that this is a high budget show, they will cancel it in a heartbeat if it doesn't get the amount of viewers they want.
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Isn't it how it works? People think "if there isn't enough viewers, they'll cancel" so they don't watch and... there isn't enough viewer, so they cancel.
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Very true and I did start watching however I'm not thrilled by it so far.
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Now THAT's a good reason to not watch.
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I hear you, but I'll watch anyway.
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Science Fiction shows do seem to be in a bit of a slump lately. I say it's the curse of Firefly. We saw the end of Stargate with only two measly season of SGU and Falling Skies is rubbish. I'm quite liking Continuum but I feel Defience isn't as original. More like a cross between Farscape and Revolution
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Well, science fiction is a niche market. Some people get turned off by the mere idea of it because they envision cheesy alien+robot costumes and weak dialog. Of course science fiction is more than that, but there's still a stigma.

Hence why so many network attempts at it fail: it doesn't bring in enough numbers as generic sitcoms or dramas. And thus it's rare they give new shows a chance.

Granted: just about everyone I know likes science fiction in some form or another. But a few of my friends know some people that consider it "lame" or "nerdy"

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We like Falling Skies.
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As much as I like sci fi shows and I will definitely watch this (its in Canada also), but a small part of me wishes this show flops. I personally believe Syfy cancelled a lot of good shows including Alphas, to make this show happen, because judging from its looks and its tie-in video game, this show cost a lot. Its like they put all their money in this show. If this becomes something like the next Stargate franchise, well good for them. I already miss Warehouse 13 even though it has yet to air its last episodes.
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Cheer up internet friend, Warehouse 13 hasn't been cancelled yet. :D
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Kinda feel like I had more interest in giving it a try before watching the trailer. On the SyFy front I'm sure I'm in the minority but I watched Caprica without having seen BSG and ended up loving it. Tried BSG when Caprica was over and couldn't get into it. I have a hard time imaging Defiance having the same hold on me that Caprica did and am thinking that maybe worst case scenario it has the entertainment value of Jeremiah or Jericho or lol, Revolution or something.

In case you didn't notice I'm currently thinking of this show in terms of it being another post-apocalypse show with a twist in there being aliens now too.
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It sounds like a mix of Falling Skies and Alien Nation. Although it's real purpose may be to sell a game.

On the lighter side of things, Warehouse 13 returns in two weeks.
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The game stands on it's own feet. This may just bring in new players of a new audience that would never in the first place become gamers.
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Also, Eureka's HG Wells (Jaime Murray) is starring on Defiance as a pale-looking alien.
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That's more Warehouse 13's H.G. Wells.
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Oops sorry typo. Was just replying to a thread about Eureka a couple of minutes earlier and must have got my wires crossed.
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Can't wait to see how aliens didn't pick up communications or signs of life before landing on Earth. Hopefully this preposterous premise will be overshadowed by other elements of the show.
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I looked up some of the backstory online, apparently their fleet left their world 5,000 years ago so it's reasonable premise.
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I haven't seen the show but I guess that could make sense. Though I question: if the travel took them 5,000 years then why bother settling on a planet. You already have feasible infrastructure for a whole bunch of aliens to live on ships for 5 thousand years (though I guess maybe they were frozen?).

However if the reason was they were 5,000 light years away (and traveled at warp which took a lot less time) then they wouldn't have picked up any signals before they left.

Meanwhile who's to say how accurate you'd be able to receive radio signals traveling at warp or even just near-light-speed. Due to the doppler effect and all of that.

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The pilot is online if you know where to look and it was actually pretty good. It's sci-fi but definitely has a Western flair that gives it some of the excitement that Firefly provided. But at the same time you have mixed in the political intrigue and mystery so I'd say there are very few great comparisons that leap to mind. Honestly, I'd say that elements of what was great in Firefly, SG1, and BSG were present.

My only real probably with the pilot is I was lost at time trying to figure out the various races and what the "Votan" actually are. I know this is being billed as the revolutionary tv series/video game tie-in, my only question is is there enough information in the show itself or will you miss a chunk without the game.

Unless it goes downhill quickly I'd say giving the season a shot is probably worth it.
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The only tie-in thus far was a prologue to Nolan and Irisa and how they acquired that gem the Irathient "Spirit Rider" took from them after exiting the arkfall.
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thanks ...I'm willing to wager I know where to look and realize now I probably already saw it. maybe have to get an early jump on it since I can.
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