TV Review: Defiance – Pilot Episode

Defiance pilot Nolan Irisa 560x372 TV Review: Defiance   Pilot Episode
This is the most full on science fictiony show that SyFy has attempted in some time. And it has potential, but there are some major pitfalls to be avoided.

Pilot episodes are tough to pull off well. Even with a double length episode there’s just so much to try and pack in between establishing characters, world building and you know… plot.

In this case it’s the plot that really suffers.

To call it basic would be giving it more credit than it’s due. It does just enough to introduce the characters and the setting plus some sort of season arc and really nothing else. There’s even one of those leader gives rousing speech and convinces people to fight moments.

Most of the plot hooks it dangles out for future episodes are painfully obvious too. Yes we have two feuding families. Yes we have teenagers from each family who are in love. There’s a new mayor and she’s a hard ass… but not confident of her own abilities.

But what saves it and at least gives it potential is the characters. They’re not particularly original but they are interesting and likeable (or dislikeable as appropriate).

Grant Bowler as Josh Nolan hits the right notes of cocky bravado and genuine caring while Stephanie Leonidas plays Irisa Nyira his adopted daughter as alternately sulky and withdrawn or loving. There’s definitely more to be explored in that relationship.defiance the show1 300x150 TV Review: Defiance   Pilot Episode

Julie Benz and Mia Kirshner as sisters Amanda and Kenya Rosewater (one the mayor, one the brothel owner) spark well with Nolan and get across a caring relationship with each other.

Also I’m going to keep an eye on Anthony Curran who plays Datak Tarr. He didn’t get much beyond cliche to work with in this episode, but you may recognize him as Vincent Van Gogh from Doctor Who and he’s a very capable actor when given the material to work with.

So there’s material there to work with and the show was developed by Rockne S. O’Bannon who was responsible for Farscape gives me hope we can move beyond the obvious and towards the more interesting stories.

Of course he was also the creator of seaQuest DSV so…

In terms of effects, the budget seems to have been pretty generous as far as  that goes. Not only do we see some spaceships (falling from the sky no less) but they’ve created quite a credible town in the ruins of St. Louis. Which is a bigger scale than any show that SyFy has run before.

Admittedly the aliens do tend towards the humans with funny foreheads and eyes but there’s a good variety of them and I hope we’ll have a chance to explore some of the different cultures more later on.

I’m going to try it for a few episodes more. It wasn’t horrible and as I said, pilots are difficult

3 / 5 stars     

13 thoughts on “TV Review: Defiance – Pilot Episode

  1. April 19, 2013 at 21:20

    I'll check it out, thanks:)

  2. April 19, 2013 at 21:20

    It reminded me of Gunsmoke.

  3. April 19, 2013 at 21:20

    There's a deliberate echoing of common western tropes going on. A gunslinger rides into town and takes over the sherrif's position. Feuding families etc.

    I've seen people fussing that Firefly was a sci-fi western (which it sort of was) and this is copying it.. But it's a different type of western.

  4. April 19, 2013 at 21:20

    Thanks for the review Eoghann. I was curious about this one and haven't seen the pilot yet.

  5. April 19, 2013 at 21:23

    Uh-oh. Did someone say SeaQuest DSV.

  6. April 19, 2013 at 21:23

    Actually, the sheriff thing really reminded me of Eureka and Terra Nova.

  7. April 19, 2013 at 22:22

    That particular trope goes back decades +Allisyn Bridges. It actually pre-dates cowboy movies, but that's where it became really common.

  8. April 19, 2013 at 22:22

    I know that but it does seem to be getting pretty common in science fiction lately.

  9. April 19, 2013 at 22:22

    "gives me hope" appearing in the same sentence as "developed by Rockne S. O'Bannon" was a bit of an oxymoron for me, but my inability to find anything compelling about Farscape seems to put me in the minority, so I'll just sit over here and keep quiet.

  10. April 19, 2013 at 22:22

    I'll give it a shot.

  11. April 19, 2013 at 22:22

    I tried to get into it, but it just wasn't grabbing me. That's the risk with pilots – they can sour an entire show for you, even if the rest of the season is good.

  12. April 19, 2013 at 22:22

    Going to give it a few episodes before I decide it's fate.

  13. April 19, 2013 at 23:22

    I hate sciffy with a passion for all the lies they've told to fans, for all the shows they've canceled and for their obvious disregard of their core audience.

    I bought Eureka off iTunes and I guess I'll have to check this show out somewhere else since I refuse to watch this channel.

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