“Defiance” is a science fiction show, showing on Syfy and created by sci-fi great Rockne O’Bannon as well as Kevin Murphy, and Michael Taylor. O’Bannon is known for creating the film “Alien Nation,” as well as shows like “Farscape” and “SeaQuestDSV.” Produced by Universal Cable Productions, it has a much higher quality than most Syfy fare, and is right up there with “Farscape,” “Battlestar Galactica,” and “Warehouse 13” as proof that Syfy can put out good shows.
The set up of “Defiance” is fairly simple: set in 2046, the world has been drastically altered due to the arrival of aliens, and a subsequent war. The terraforming equipment that was to be used to make the planet more hospitable for our visitors have fallen to Earth, reshaping the Earth. It’s been 15 years since a ceasefire and a tenuous peace with the aliens, collectively known as Votans, who have secured Central and South America, while humans have most of the Northwest of the United States. The rest of the country has become a badlands, and a new frontier is formed, as a collective of both humans and Votans begin to resettle the land. One such independent city-state is Defiance, built over the remains of St. Louis, Missouri. And it is here that our story begins.
The show stars Grant Bowler as Joshua Nolan, a survivor just trying to get by with his adopted alien daughter Irisa Nyira (Stephanie Leonidas). They happen into the town after salvaging a power source from an “arkfall”, an event where debris from a destroyed ship that orbits the planet in the form of a ring falls to Earth and is salvageable for new technology and such. He meets the mayor of Defiance, Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz), who asks him to stay on as the town’s Lawkeeper. The show has a true sci-fi western feel that works remarkably well. The characters are well written and the story does a good job of drawing you in, and there is some decent character development. Tony Curran plays an alien businessman, who could be good or bad, but you’ll have to watch to find out. The interactions are well played out, nothing feels forced, and information about the world is given in pieces so there’s always something new happening. Again, the sci-fi western setting really lends itself well to this world and story.
What I liked about “Defiance” is that it pretty much just drops you into this world and you’re finding things out along with the protagonists. I also love a good mythology and backstory for new shows, and “Defiance” has a very good one. The TV show is part of a multimedia exposure for the franchise, with a MMORPG for consoles and PC that actually first introduces Nolan and Irisa to the world. You don’t need to play the game in order to appreciate the show, but the idea of both running is ambitious to say the least. The show carries over the look of the game, and does its best to keep up with the sci-fi action that happens in-game. I plan on getting the game myself after the second season, which promises to show us some major events from the past.
The Season One set comes with a few special features, with the most interesting being how they bridge the gap from game to show. The rest are standard fare, including deleted scenes, a gag reel, and a trio of featurettes, icnluding “Defiance: A Transmedia Revolution”, “Making Defiance”, and “Behind-the-Scenes with Jesse Rath”.
If you’re a sci-fi fan, or just looking for something new to watch, I suggest “Defiance.” It’s worth the trip to see a whole new vision of Earth and to relive the “Wild Frontier” in a way you’ve never seen before.