Towards the beginning of our current decade there was an influx of alien invasion and/or alien coexistence television shows that aired. To be honest I think it had a lot to do with riding the Stefanie Meyer train and hoping her next novel, The Host, would be the start of the next big trend of alien invasion. This of course following the vampire craze she started with her the Twilight series of books in the latter part of the last decade. The Host’s popularity, and subsequent film adaptation more or less achieved a modicum of success residually based on her Twilight momentum, but both the novel and film ultimately failed to catch on.
TV and movie executives however, wanted to be out in front of the next big thing and The Host in all probability seemed like a good place to start. ABC for instance would choose to reboot V, and use some familiar faces from the sci-fi cult show Firefly to give the show a chance. The CW would give the sci-fi sub-genre a hit and miss with their Star-Crossed, an implied Romeo & Juliet alien-human romance tale, but the show would only be around for one season which luckily freed up Matt Lanter for Timeless. TNT would try it’s hand with Falling Skies, ultimately one of the longest lasting of the series, about a group of resistance fighters and survivors following an all out alien invasion. SyFy too would bring us Defiance, a show about a coexisting group of aliens and humans in former St. Louis following an alien invasion and war.
Now, I watched V in its brief existence on ABC and it had potential, but one could see that the show had issues with writing and the networks plan for it, and it often lost cohesion on an episode to episode basis. Falling Skies and Defiance on the other hand were shows I wanted to watch but was never able to get around too. Back in late February after catching up on season one of The Expanse, and plowing through Space Above and Beyond I decided I needed more sci-fi and checked to see if my newly aquired Amazon Video app had Defiance or Falling Skies on it, and I was in luck. So I started digging into the three seasons of Defiance first.
A few months back I covered the Defiance video game on PS3. At that time I had mentioned that I never really saw the show so I was a little lost as to what was going on in the game. Now, I knew of Defiance and I remember seeing the SyFy channel advertise it from time to time, especially before it came on the air in 2013. From what I gathered from the commercials the show was about a lawman in a town with alien citizens. As one person put it to me several months ago it was like the critically acclaimed 80’s film and TV series Alien Nation. When I finally tuned it in on Amazon Video I was pleasantly surprised by what I watched. I wasn’t like Alien Nation at all, although it had some minor similarities. What we had instead was a show about a scavenger or Ark Hunter, who reluctantly finds himself as a towns lawkeeper following the death of its lawkeeper shortly after he arrives. That part did reminded me of another SyFy show Eureka. As the three seasons of the show played out we get involved in various evil alien plots, a human-alien romance, a government takeover, and a lot of other plot twists and turns.
The show has some pretty decent acting especially from the main characters. Grant Bowler who plays Joshua Nolan our Ark Hunter turned lawman plays a character who is tough, yet likable and even sympathetic. He’s backed up with several other familiar faced character actors like Julie Benz, Jamie Murray, and Graham Greene all of which carry the show well. Of course I remember the beautiful Julie Benz from a show called No Ordinary Family some years ago where she played the mom, but I never realized how gorgeous she was, I guess with Autumn Reeser in the cast too though perhaps I was a little distracted. Jamie Murray, who play Stahma Tarr spends the entire time in completely white makeup but honestly makes it look very sexy, Murray is a SyFy channel mainstay and played H.G. in another SyFy channel show Warehouse 13. As for Graham Greene I won’t call him sexy but I will say you’ve probably seen him in a lot of other things like Maverick, Dances with Wolves, and most recently the Twilight movies. Look for the little joke thrown in about him and the Twilight movies in the episode I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times in season 1 episode 9.
So yes there are some attractive women in the cast. There’s also a lot of sexy time scenes, if you know what I mean, that push the boundaries of FCC rules to their limits. So between that and some of the violence and full out cursing, I can definitely say it’s not a family friendly show. I can however say that for adult audiences it’s a fairly compelling show.
The first season revolves around Nolan, and his alien daughter as they adapt to their roles as law keepers in Defiance. We also get involved in the political intrigues of Mayor Rosewater (Benz) as she balances the towns two major powers, mine owner Rafe McCauley (Greene) and top gangster Datak Tarr (Tony Curran). McCauley and Tarrs daughter and son, human Christie (Nicole Munoz) and alien Alak Tarr (Jesse Rath) are also carrying on a relationship and look to marry, while Tarr’s wife the aforementioned Stahma plans to use the relationship to her own family’s advantage. We also have a scheming alien town doctor, Doc Yewll (Trenna Keating), who is working with the town’s past mayor (Fionulla Flanagan) to uncover a buried alien weapon that will kill all humans. Lastly, we have additional intrigue carrying on with Mayor Rosewaters sister Kenya (Mia Kirshner), the madam of a local house of ill repute who has Nolan, and both Tarr’s as clients. I have to say that I thought the first season was best.
In season 2 a new Earth central government takes over the town, leading to Rosewater being booted from office and military leadership taking over. Kenya disappears, and Alak and Christie start married life, and Alak finds himself reluctantly in charge of the crime family. Datak is imprisoned by the new government, and spends the second half of the season exiled from his own house. McCauley has a similar fate as the new government confiscates his mine, and later his house. Irisa begins to harness frightening new powers, that lead to major issues later in the season.
In season three Mayor Rosewater is back in charge as the new Earth government leaves. Tragedy befalls the McCauleys, and Irisa and Nolan return to Defiance. Meanwhile the Tarrs fall prisoner to a rogue alien general Rahm Tak, who is on a genocidal campaign to kill all humans. In the second half of the season Tak is defeated but Defiance must deal with a new alien race the cannibalistic Omec.
I have to rate the seasons in the same order as they aired or 1,2,3. I thought seasons 1 and 2 were well done, but season 3 had some lazy writing to it especially in the way in which Rahm Tak was defeated. I also felt as if season 3 went for a lot of shock value, especially with the horror elements of Tak beheading humans and displaying rotting heads on pikes, and later of the Omec cannibalism. Of course I also think the show had potential to go longer than three seasons had care been taken in season three. I will say that I did find the final episode to be pretty impressive, and wrapped the series up nicely on a note I wasn’t expecting.
Defiance Video Game
The video game interestingly was released in 2013 during the first season of the series. The game assumably takes place before the first season since we meet Nolan and Irisa as Ark Hunters. Nolan and Irisa both voiced by the original actors only appear for a brief scene, but the rest of the game is non-show characters. Although the game is in universe, overall it has little to do with the actual show. This doesn’t mean to say it’s a bad game, as a matter of fact as I reviewed back in January the game is actually pretty fun and has an unexpectedly large community of online players. The graphics themselves are par for a gen 7 system, and could even be improved a bit but things are pretty solid, even if hit detection is an issue from time to time. The game does control well though, and most actions are fairly responsive. As far as originality despite being based on a TV series the game manages to create its own dimension and even expands on and past what the TV series gives us.