When you start throwing out expectations for your show using names like “Battlestar Galactica” and “Firefly,” you’re already digging yourself into a deep ditch. It’s the kind of hype that makes the Syfy-watching vets cringe. Or even worse, the kind of hype a new, intended viewership wouldn’t even understand.
That’s one problem.
Then, you go out and claim that this new TV show will interact with a live video game, exchanging plot lines, characters and sequences that can affect each media platform to newer heights and experiences.
Consider this ditch now the size of a crater.
While the verdict on this admirable, interactive experiment has yet to be determined — even GameSpot, IGN, and Game Informer have yet to review the game, and who knows if they ever will — I can thankfully tell you that the first two hours of Defiance (the TV show) are enjoyable and certainly even accessible.
Almost too accessible.
“Defiance” examines what Earth would be like if humans and aliens squashed all their troubles for a not-so-Utopian-like society. All the special effects are there, including the likes of intergalactic cruisers, wondrous landscapes, and even Voltron-like intruders. Shit can get epic pretty quick. While most of the action is intense, albeit a tad too video-gamey — perhaps that’s the goal? — the real problem lies within the people of this Earth. “Defiance” touches upon almost every Sci-Fi cliche imagined, from the instantly charming, swashbuckling Han Solo/Mal Reynolds lead, Jeb Nolan (Grant Bowler), to his.. err.. barbarically defiant alien “daughter”, Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas); to the type of Shakespearean family romance drivel that helped cripple such series like “Terra Nova.”
Oh — you know — the whole “get away from my sister/daughter because you’re different” type.. crap.
Even the pilot episode’s very own “Leia” a.k.a. “Dexter’s Dead Wife” isn’t all that interesting, either; except that Mayor Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) does prove to be one resilient cookie. There is a cool dynamic going on there between Nolan, herself, and her sister(!) that should hopefully lead to more than just trivial matters. Julie is indeed a likable actress and naturally very pretty, to boot, so it’d be sad to see her potentially strong character not flourish. Let’s hope Rosewater’s backstory — to which backstories are often sprinkled throughout the show — proves a little more than one-note.
While I’m not a fan of many (or any) of the secondary acts in particular, there’s even more potential for the Scottish actor playing The Witcher, or should I say Datak Tarr. Yes, Tony Curran’s clearly got the whole “villainous good guy” thing going on. But, if anything proves he’s in the right in this cross-species beef with the McCawley’s — the other family involved in this sad Romeo & Juliet — then we’re all in luck. There’s never a better time than now to end this cliche that the aliens are typically always the bad guys.
So, yet, despite the abundant tropes, uneven plotlines, and rushed action sequences, there are moments in the “Defiance” script that will bring you smiles, tears and laughter — even if only because it feels familiar to you.
As for the series’ longevity, “I guess we’ll all have to just wait and see!”
Defiance premieres tonight (Marathon Monday, April 15th) on Syfy at 9pm ET/PT.