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-show

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

About Eoghann Irving

Overly opinionated owner and author of You can get updated on his posts directly on the blog here or through the usual social networking suspects. What? You expected me to say something interesting here? That's what the blog posts are for. Eoghann has often wondered if people read these little bio things we have to fill out everywhere on the internet and, assuming they do, why?


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