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Friday, 19 April 2013

DEFIANCE – PILOT (2013)


SyFy is producing actual science fiction again, and I am a very happy bunny about that fact. I saw the trailer for this new transmedia franchise, which offers both a TV series and a video game, a while back and thought it looked superb, but hey, the trailer for The Phantom Menace made that look brilliant too, so I was wary.

 It takes a lot to impress me, or indeed engage me at all, with new TV shows, and thus it was with a little trepidation that I watched this. Was I going to be wasting my time? Was it going to be a great show? Would it last more than five minutes on our TV? No, almost and no.

I did manage to watch the whole thing, but there were a couple of points I almost gave up on it. Earth has been transformed into a post-apocalyptic wasteland following a war and some failed terraforming from a race known as the Votans. Since then, an uneasy alliance between humans and Votans has created a new kind of society, in which typical science fiction intrigue tends to go on. And on. And on. And on.


Y'see, this opening shot for Defiance is almost agonisingly slow, to the point where I caught my hand creeping towards the remote control lest my brain atrophy from the dull, cheap tediousness on the screen. Then, as if by magic, the third act kicks into gear and it all makes sense. An epic third act brings a real element of danger to the lives of main characters Jeb (Grant Bowler) and Irisa (the gloriously talented Stephanie Leonidas under some understated character makeup).

With a cast also featuring Julie Benz and Mia Kirshner, Defiance starts slow but builds to an ass-kicking climax, well, this first episode does anyway. While it does blatantly show influences from Firefly, Deadwood, Farscape, Battlestar Galactica and more, it does have its own charms and merits.


It helps greatly that the cast know what they're doing, and while a lot of the script is cringeworthy, dialogue is delivered with conviction and the effects are at times brilliant. Yeah, a lot of it looks cheap and chock-full of hackneyed old sci-fi cliches, but it's entertaining enough once the pace picks up. Whether the pace and growth of the story can be maintained over the rest of the season is yet to be seen, but I'm up for sticking with it for now.

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