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 cliché 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. 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.

  2. "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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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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