Thursday, April 18, 2013

Defiance Pilot Review

Defiance plays out like a sci-fi series from the 90s. That is not to say it is like Star Trek. Defiance hails more from Babylon 5, Star Trek’s sloppy cousin. Defiance is bringing back the old ways: prosthetics, flashy aliens ranging from all the colors of the rainbow, cheesy dialogue, and horrendous special effects. It is not one of those Battlestar Galactica type series that the networks have been spewing out since it aired. The series has high aspirations, but the pilot episode stumbles in its efforts.

Defiance is set in the future where the planet has been terraformed following the arrival of various alien races. The story is centered on the inner workings of the town of Defiance and an emerging plot to destroy it. The main characters of interest are the war hero Jeb Nolan, who becomes the new sheriff in town, and his adopted alien daughter Irisa. However, there is a supporting cast that takes up most of the spotlight, the McCawley and Tarr families (one is alien, you know which one).  They have a War of the Roses vibe, and they are vying for control of the town.  There is a lot going on in the show, but the manner in which it is done leaves it feeling flat. No effort is made to make the alien races seem interesting besides their looks, their blue glowing laser knives, and their annoying music. So far they seem all too human. The story itself was not half bad, a bit formulaic, but that is what pilots are like. It had action, mystery, and it moved at a good pace.

It is nice that they brought back practical effects for some old fashioned aliens with bumpy foreheads. On the other hand, the CGI effects are distractingly bad and sometimes poorly integrated with reality. In one car chase, the vehicle switches between a real one and a poorly rendered one. There is a battle with a computer generated alien force which looked like a cut scene from a video game. Maybe they wanted the graphics to match with the coinciding video game. Defiance is not the next advancement in sci-fi television. It is an old school sci-fi series, and the question is if people are still going to want to watch that.         

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