With this being the supposed “golden age” of television, it’s hard to tell if a show like Defiance really has a place as art or entertainment. There’s some good actors and intriguing aspects to the story, but Defiance can never rise above the average science fiction muck that SyFy usually airs.
The show’s first season, available now on Blu-ray, follows a drifter (Grant Bowler) who was once a soldier in a famous battle of resistance. The show takes place on a future Earth where aliens and humans live together, and the world presents all kinds of new threats for survivors. Our drifter loses everything and ends up in Defiance which is a stable town named after the previously mentioned battle. Julie Benz also stars as a newly appointed mayor to the city. She must fight town politics, violent threats and conspiracies she’s not even close to understanding.
When Defiance focuses on our drifter protagonist it works thanks to Bowler’s incredible charisma and humor (he previously starred as Hank Reardon in Atlas Shrugged: Part 1). The show enters the mediocre territory when it gets wrapped up in alien/human politics and large conspiracies. None of these aspects to the show are particularly entertaining or original. They deflate all the work actors like Bowler and Benz do with their scenes.
The pilot, directed by Scott Stewart (Dark Skies), sets up the show well enough and is the strongest episode by far. The battles, fight scenes and special effects are surprisingly good for television, but the show still has a level of goofiness that defies the rest of it. No episodes really answer the question of tone for this series. It’s too tongue in cheek to take seriously and too serious to be a comedy.
The show is apparently the first to be directly connected with a video game world. The two platforms feed off of each other. I’ve never played the game, but I think the show suffers from the connection. A lot of the times, Defiance can feel like less of a piece of television and more like a video game. Bowler’s character seems to be thrown into situations more fitting of a video game and for purposes that have little to do with story.
There’s an audience for Defiance and I’m sure they’ll enjoy it, but it’s too scatter-brained to recommend especially when television has so much more to offer.
The Blu-ray package offers a few behind the scenes features and deleted scenes among other things.