Monday, April 15, 2013

Defiance - TV Guide: Monday Playlist Apr 15 '13 - NEW Series Syfy 9/8C

Source: TV Guide [follow link for complete column]

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TV GUIDE: The Monday Playlist: Defiance, Lake and Dallas Finales, Voice Battle Rounds

Apr 15, 2013
by Matt Roush

It's no accident if, while watching Defiance — the first new Syfy drama in eons that has a scope you could actually describe as fantastic — you sometimes feel you're trapped inside an elaborate video game. After all, this new series (Monday, 9/8c) was developed alongside a new video game that inhabits the same fictional universe.

And true to its nature, Defiance excels in moments of big action: battle scenes in which aliens and humans team to blast a faceless enemy off of a cliff face, or a freaky encounter in an upcoming episode with a nest of monstrous "hell bugs." Gamers will be forgiven if they're tempted to pick up their controllers and try to play along. It's pretty much the point, no? The TV world of Defiance also offers plenty of intrigue. The story starts 30-odd years after Earth was invaded, occupied and "terra-formed" by seven distinct and combative alien races, destroying cities and altering the planet's landscape forever. The setting, a burgeoning mining town named Defiance, sits atop the ruins of St. Louis, with the battered but still-standing Gateway Arch an emblem of endurance and survival.

Exotic details — one of the more conniving alien tribes looks like an Edgar Winter cult — nestle within the comfort zone of an old-fashioned Western, as a brash new "lawkeeper" (Grant Bowler, enjoyably mixing John Wayne swagger with a Han Solo snark) tries to keep peace amid clashing extraterrestrial cultures and competing, sometimes violently criminal interests. He and his feisty adopted alien daughter (the terrific Stephanie Leonidas) add life to what is otherwise a surprisingly colorless cast. Much of the casting is disappointingly flat, and the character development as shallow as in any video game. A trite Romeo-Juliet storyline, involving the mine owner's daughter and an alien bad boy, is particularly bush league. Still, ambition counts for a lot in this expansive genre, and Defiance gets better with each episode — a trip underground to the remnants of "Old St. Louis" next week is especially cool — so I'm hoping this can defy the odds and become a hit...

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Defiance cast includes Tony Curran, Jaime Murray, Julie Benz, Mia Kirshner, Grant Bowler, Stephanie Leonidas and Graham Greene.


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