I will preface this by saying that I have not finished watching the pilot for this show, yet. It is kind of that uninteresting to me and I find myself only marginally caring for the characters. For all the promos and reviews touting it as the new Firefly meets Farscape, I say, whatever. To compare it to the greatness of Firefly just because Defiance also has a western frontier throwback look to it, is to set it up to fail to meet Firefly fans’ high expectations anyway. It isn’t the new Firefly. For one thing it has aliens and Firefly never did. But, even if you tell yourself to not compare the two, you may inevitably do so anyway. It can’t entirely be helped. It has a war veteran gone rogue. It has groups of people living in fringe conditions. And it has a very similar look and feel to Firefly in places, with a jumbled mixture of cultures creating a futuristic, yet primitive hodge podge of activity, but where Firefly was grounded to a degree in the Chinese/Western motifs, Defiance has very little familiar grounding aside from an arch that used to be in a town called St. Louis, now Defiance.
At first glance, Defiance has such great promise. It has a great look with scores of new alien looks. It has phenomenal actors like Grant Bowler, Fionnula Flanagan (Lost), Julie Benz (Angel) and Tony Curran. It has what sounds like a great concept, where alien races come to Earth seeking refuge, but Earth gets almost destroyed by their alien terra-forming technology, so now all of these alien races and humans are struggling to survive on this New Earth that is now alien to everyone. It’s also directly tied into a game, but there just doesn’t seem to be much life in it. Everyone is hitting emotional notes and their marks, but it doesn’t ring true or something. There are no real believable stakes for anyone or an underdog to rally behind (even though the main character is a war veteran tailor-made for rallying behind). It just falls flat. For all of the intrigue of new alien peoples, they are not very fleshed out. No one is, really. Not even the humans. Not enough humor, not enough chemistry or maybe not enough love.
Yeah love. Back when I took amateur acting classes, my acting instructor told us to look for the love in the scene. It wasn’t necessarily romantic love. Could be platonic, parental, agape love and so on. We were to play that love in the scene, to play a scene with such urgency that you might die if you don’t get the love you are seeking. The love has to do with what the character wants and needs and who they need it from. I am just not seeing the love. Maybe it will come with time, or maybe, just maybe I miss Firefly too much to ever find my love for this thing called Defiance.
The Pilot episode re-airs on the SyFy channel tonight at 7PM EST and the second episode airs at 9PM EST