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?