Monday, April 29, 2013

Five Reasons to Watch SyFy's Defiance

I'm not the biggest science fiction fan out there, but I do enjoy the genre on occasion, esp. when it's done with a dystopian vibe. I decided to check out SyFy's new series, Defiance, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the first two episodes. The network is generally hit or miss with it's original programming, so it's encouraging to see something as interesting and well-made as their BSG remake (which is also the last show I really got into on SyFy).

Wikipedia has an informative write-up on the show which gives a lot more background than what's been revealed so far. The gist is that several species of aliens (collectively called Votans) were forced to evacuate their own planets and came to Earth looking to colonize. When they discovered humans living there, negotiations began for some kind of permanent settlement for the aliens while millions of them waited in hypersleep on the many Ark ships in orbit. Things went horribly wrong and a war ensued which nearly wiped out both humans and aliens and destroyed much of the planet. The show takes place in St. Louis, now named Defiance, after the war and how aliens and humans live together in that particular town.

I highly recommend giving Defiance a try, even if sci-fi isn't your thing. Here are my five favorite aspects of the series so far:

1. Original Landscape - So, the idea is that some time during the war with Earth, alien ships were sabotaged and sent crashing into the planet. Terra-forming technology aboard some of those vessels went crazy upon impact, resulting in a wild, unplanned transformation of the Earth's surface. Basically, everything is kind of a mash-up of alien and native flora, fauna and wacky land formations. The entire setting is unique and interesting.

2. Cool Creatures - The aliens are cool and all, but there are other creatures that were created when alien and native plants and animals mutated and blended. One kind was encountered fairly early in the pilot, a giant insect called a Hellbug, which reminded me of those old Jim Henson Garthim creatures from the movie The Dark Crystal, heh. I hope we get to see more crazy mutant monsters in future stories.

3. Cultural Details - I love that the show's creators took the time to really develop the cultural distinctions for the various alien races now living on Earth. Several characters speak in their invented languages, and there's even a pretty humorous "dance party" scene showing the Castithan race's peculiar boogie moves to the beat of an alien song. There was also some thought put into the generational gap and the disparate views between the older aliens who remember their former world and lifestyles and the younger ones who have only ever known the new integrated planet.

4. Bad Boys (and Girls) - Grant Bowler does a decent job of channeling Han Solo in his role as former Marine Joshua Nolan (seriously, all he needs is one of those Wookie/Sasquatch look-a-like Sensoth aliens as a sidekick). But despite the obvious rip-off, Nolan is an entertaining and believable roguish hero. Tony Curran and Jaime Murray (love her!) are also perfect in their roles as devious Castithan couple Datak and Stahma Tarr (it doesn't hurt that they do most of their scheming in their opulent bath where Murray is generally lounging around half-nekkid). I also enjoyed the casting of Star Trek and Lost veteran Fionnula Flanagan as the trusted ex-mayor of Defiance, whose real motives seem to involve the death of the whole town.

5. Irisa and the Irathients- Played by Stephanie Leonidas, Irisa is by far my favorite character on the show. Her race is human-like and more tribal than the other aliens. She has a feral quality about her which is tempered by the fact that she was raised by her human adoptive father, Nolan. Of course, he's not exactly a stand-up citizen either, so the two make a rebellious team with their own unique sense of honor. The other Irathients ride around in Mad Max fashion, robbing and scavenging and causing lots of general chaos where they go. It's fun to watch, and I'd love to see more involvement from them as the series progresses.

If I was more of a gamer, the fact that the show has a video game out as a companion to the series might have made my list. I probably won't get the chance to try it out, but it sounds very neat, especially since the game periodically adds new information based on what happens in the show. I would love to hear from anyone who has had the opportunity to play and see how the game progresses with the TV series.

Defiance is a promising new take on dystopian sci-fi, and I’m eager to see where it goes. The third episode airs tonight on SyFy, but the previous two are available on Hulu (and probably the network website too) if anyone wants to get caught up.

If you’ve watched the show already, what do you think? Which are your favorite or least favorite aspects of the series so far?



Carole Remy said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll give it a watch. Your blog is great! Just followed.


Ella Gray said...

Thanks Carole! You have a lovely blog as well. Hope you enjoy the show :)

widdershins said...

I watched the pilot the other night. It shows promise. If they can keep their hands relatively clean of hackneyed stereotypes. it might go the distance. (I say relatively because ... studio execs aren't the most innovative thinkers)
Right now it looks like 'Romeo and Juliet' meets 'Gunsmoke' meets monster special effects ... we'll see.

Ella Gray said...

Widdershins - That is a very apt description, and I love the wild west attributes of the show. Ah, poor Alak and Christie, rough times are surely ahead for those two lovebirds.

Fingers crossed that the series goes in a good direction :)

Kelly Hashway said...

I haven't even heard of this one. Can you tell I don't watch much TV? LOL

Sarah Negovetich said...

Oh this sounds good. This is one of those times I wish we still had tv.

Kate Larkindale said...

Thanks for the reccomendation. I rarely watch TV, but it's nice to know there are good things on if I want to.

Ella Gray said...

I'm right there with you guys - I haven't had cable TV in quite some time, so I watch everything online via Hulu and Netflix streamed through the Wii.

Hope you all like the show if you get the chance to check it out :)

widdershins said...

Caught up with the episodes ... Ep 3 raised it a few more notches in my estimation ... will stick around for some more :D

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