I adore reviewing pilots. There’s genuinly nothing I love more than tackling a brand new show and losing myself in the awesomeness (or awfulness) of it all. I was intrigued by Defiance‘s apocalyptic premise (the end-of-the-world shtick seems to be all the rage these days) and insisted on giving Syfy’s high-profile production a chance. Unfortunately, while the show has some potential, I doubt I’ll be returning for round two.
The main problem with Defiance is that it’s just so painfully derivative; there’s absolutely nothing here we haven’t seen before (and executed better I might add). The father-daughter dynamic, the wild-west tone in a sci-fi setting, the star-crossed lovers… it’s all so remarkably unoriginal and cliched. I wasn’t exactly bored by the pilot, but it never really managed to grab me either. And the CGI? Well let’s just say the effects are plain atrocious, and I’m embarrassed for the reputation of the poor production house SyFy hired for this. The final battle in particular is terrible, and drags on for far too long. Apparently the show ties into a video game; let’s hope the game’s graphics are more impressive because this was embarrassing and cheap.
What the show does well is some pretty effective world-building: the spirit riders, the various alien races, we get a feel for the characters pretty quickly (probably because they’re all stereotypes). Grant Bowler is serviceable as Nolan, our hero, and if anything, I would like to see more of his chemistry with Julie Benz, the town’s mayor, and her sister Kenya (hilariously played by Mia Kirshner) who just happens to run the town’s brothel. It’s an amusing love triangle, but it’s not enough to keep me coming back.
The pilot tries to pull off a few twists at the end with Nolan’s childhood reveal and the town’s ex-mayor, but it’s all too little too late. The whole thing just feels really basic and cheesy. If you need your science fiction fix, look elsewhere because I doubt this pilot will satisfy fans of the genre.
On a final note, how gorgeous is Jaime Murray (the actress who plays Stahma)? Even with the white alien makeup… she’s a stunner.
While Defiance might have glimmers of potential, I’m not dying to continue watching in the current landscape of must-see television. This pilot was uninspired, and simply not worth the time investment.