Defiance arrives on UK airwaves tonight and becomes the latest highly promising sci-fi show to come from the world of American TV and represents a massive gamble from SyFy, as they’ve bet $105 million on the project.
With that much riding on the show, SyFy will be desperate for the show to deliver. Thankfully, it more than worthy of attention thanks to it's impressive visuals and already intriguing politics.
What may see Defiance find a home though isn’t the complex languages that have been invented for the alien species or any of the other intricate details. It’s the playful tone of the show and the surprisingly high amount of similarities it has to a much loved if short lived show.
From the western setting to the witty dialogue between the characters, the entire show has more than a touch of the ‘Firefly’s about it. That is never anything but a good thing.
Ok, the show’s not as strong as the Joss Whedon‘s space drama, but only Battlestar has come close when it comes to sci-fi on TV over the last decade and Defiance comes closer than most in replicating the formula without feeling like a cheap knock-off. For a show without someone quite as demonstrably in charge as Whedon and still finding its feet, it’s a very encouraging start.
What the show also does well is that it never tries to cram its huge amount of mythology down your throat in one lump. OK, we have to sit through a slightly clichéd voiceover, but from there on in, a shockingly little amount of time is given to a backstory that thick that if used as a weapon could down a rhino. If they can skilfully roll out this lore without a horrible exposition dump, it really will show Defiance is a cut above the admittedly scant competition.
SyFy have also tried something very interesting when it comes to the launch of Defiance in their use of other types of media. Launching a video game based on the universe of the show, not the show itself is a very smart idea, letting them get all of their world forming out there before the show even airs and directly targeting their most likely audience. If they can fulfil their promise of having both worlds directly affect each other dynamically, then that really could be something to break new ground.
SyFy will be giving their new flagship show all the space they can give it to grow and with a second series already scheduled to start filming this summer, it seems like the show won’t be replicating the sticky fate that awaited Firefly. If the show can continue to merge the spirit of that illustrious show with its own futuristic family feud, then SyFy could be on to a real winner.
Defiance airs of SyFy at 9pm