some thoughts, and a Defiance review

April 17, 2013

It’s been kind of a rough few days, watching too much of the news and feeling wobbly and heartsick over it.  Monday is my regular dinner and Castle watching party, and I was intensely grateful for the company, good food (fettuccini quattro formaggi, with homemade fettucini), and lots of wine.  Lots of wine.  And a foot of snow.  A good few days to stay in and get some work done.

Last night, I caught Defiance, SyFy’s latest highly anticipated original series.  The short version:  1 part Star Trek, 1 part Mad Max, and 1 part Firefly, right down to the scruffy rogue who was a veteran in the war but would rather not talk about it.  I loved a couple of things about it:  the setup; the worldbuilding, which has a pretty hardcore SF feel and I don’t get that very often from TV SF; and the characters of Amanda and Kenya, two very different community leaders and sisters who love each other.  More of them, please, but only if it doesn’t turn into a ridiculous love triangle with the scruffy rogue, which I’m deeply afraid the show is setting up.  Ugh.  Also, appearances by Captain Power alums Peter MacNeil and Graham Greene.  I always love seeing them.

Unfortunately, a lot of the show frustrated me.  They spent all this time and energy on the world and background, then threw the most familiar, predictable story on top of it.  They’re going to have to come up with some better stories and characters, far less cliche ridden than what they gave us.  Every trope in the thing, front to back, was exhaustingly predictable.  (Kind elderly sheriff gets killed?  Check.  The Rogue with a Heart of Gold gets offered the badge at the end?  Check.  “I ain’t in it for you, sweetheart, and I ain’t in it for your rebellion…”  Check.  The Battle of Helms Deep?  Check.)  Deftly using classic tropes is one thing.  But this show never gets past the top drawer.  Very tiresome.

I could wish for the aliens to be a bit more alien.  So, the goth alien nightclub?  (Yes, there’s an alien race I’m just going to call the Goth aliens.)  I think the dancing was supposed to be alien-looking, but I’ve actually seen people at goth clubs dancing like that.  So that was hilarious to me.  Also, there is apparently a race of Steampunk aliens — no lie, one of them was wearing a top hat with goggles on it.  All I can think is, Holy crap guys, really?  You couldn’t come up with something better than that?  Because aliens arrived and immediately thought, “Hey steampunk, that’s cool!”  I mean, I can’t blame them.  But really?  That’s not thoughtful SF, that’s designing your show based on what the Wall Street Journal says is the next big thing.

So yeah.  I’m not sold yet.  I’ll give it a couple more chances, but it’s going to have to work superhard to win me over.

(By contrast, I recently re-watched the rebooted Battlestar Galactica miniseries.  It’s absolutely riveting.  The two opening scenes — the first on the meeting station, with the lone official waiting for…something, and the second that has the long cut of Starbuck jogging on the decks while a million things are going on around her — are so brilliant, so original, so good and delivering information while staying interesting, introducing every character, so full of life…yeah, that’s what I want.  That’s the bar these shows have to clear.  No wonder so few of them do.)

I’ve only seen one episode of the new season of Doctor Who.  “The people, they’re trapped in the WiFi!”  Is that supposed to be a metaphor?

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7 Responses to “some thoughts, and a Defiance review”

  1. Joe D Says:

    The show was watchable, the game is playable.

  2. rayearthix Says:

    If I remember correctly, the Defiance TV show will be taking some of its story and characters, starting in season 2, from what happens in the recently released MMO of the same name. The concept was to create an interactive environment where players would have the chance to not just sculpt the game world, but the able tv show as well. That might be why the show felt so cliche to you. Whether the proposed interconnectivity will happen, and how much of it there will be, I don’t know, but it could make the show something to remember (for good, or for bad).

  3. Doug Says:

    I bet if you ate 4 cheese pasta with wine before watching “Defiance” it would have left a better impression. That’s how I tricked my wife into marrying me. I made some tasty fettuccine, poured her favorite white wine, and proposed in the dorkiest way possible. It works every time*.

    *based on a sample set of one.

  4. Carrie V. Says:

    It was watchable, and I’m definitely going to give it a couple more chances. But almost more frustrating than the really bad stuff is the decent stuff with lots of potential that just plain drops the ball.

    Wine won’t help, I just end up screaming at the TV louder.

  5. Marie Anne Says:

    I actually enjoyed all the old familiar tropes in a new setting. It’s kind of hard for anything to be original anymore, tropes are going to be taken from somewhere else. What they’ve done is interesting. It could turn out good, or it could crash and burn. I’ll be tuning in, too, each week to see where it goes :)

  6. Janice Says:

    I’m not sure I will give it another couple of episodes. I still have 30 minutes left in the pilot and I’m not sure I’ll even finish THAT.

    I had hopes for it. Not high hopes, but hopes. It just seems cheesy to me.

    Loved seeing Peter MacNeill and Graham Greene together in scenes though. That was a nice little flashback.

  7. Sean Eric Fagan Says:

    I thought the story was okay, but barely. On the other hand, this is a pilot, and so I’ll easily give it a couple more episodes. (On the head-clutching hand, however, I couldn’t even get through the pilot for Continuum.)

    The too-human aliens bugged me a lot. Especially the naked wife goth alien. She had a BELLY BUTTON for crying out loud.


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