HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Defiance: Season 1
HTS Overall Score:77
I apologize in advance for the demise of “Defiance”. Being that next season will be its last I must give my humble apologies. How? You ask, do you know that season 2 of “Defiance” will be its last? Well, it’s a simple fact that any TV show on SyFy is inevitably cancelled within two seasons. It’s been a curse of mine that I must live with, which is why I USUALLY don’t watch a TV series on SyFy until it’s had at least two seasons under its belt. Ok, in all seriousness, SyFy has a tendency of cancelling shows that I like and I honestly hope that this is not the case here. “Defiance” started out as a slow moving sci-fi drama that has morphed into something really special and I really hope that the powers that be decide to give it a fair chance to finish the story that it’s started during the first season. I had heard a lot of people had given up within the first 4-5 episodes and for those of you who did that I strongly urge you to come and re-visit the series on its home release and give it a chance, for the 1st 35%-40% is much slower moving and only serves to set the backstory for what is to become.
It’s the year 2046 and the Earth is not how we know it today. In 2013 an alien invasion occurred, ships blasted in from nowhere and started to terra form the earth and destroying humanity in its wake. What they didn’t expect was for humanity to fight back as hard as they did and the war ended in destruction for both sides. The Votan, consisting of 8 separate races, and the humans finally declared a truce when it was obvious that neither side was going to come out of this a winner. The only problem was that the Earth is now a wasteland of terra formed alien world and the world that we knew it. Cities are destroyed, the sky has been blackened by radiation and the surviving invaders and natives had to learn how to come together and rebuild the world from scratch. As a result the survivors have created city states out of the ruins of the world and created localized governments that have allegiances to either the Earth Republic or the Votan Council.
Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler) and his adopted alien daughter Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas) are scavengers, living day to day scavenging parts from the downed spacecraft floating in the atmosphere and hoping to strike it rich one day. As fate would have it, that day has arrived today and they are one on their way to cash in their fortune when fate decides to twist around and pull the rug out from underneath them and send them in a whole nother direction. Chased away from their prize by a gang of Irathients (one of the 8 races of Votans) and into the arms of a small city by the name of Defiance. Under the protection of the Mayor of Defiance, one Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz), Nolan and Irisa are forced to settle down in Defiance until they can get some traveling cash together. In a turn of fate Nolan becomes the towns Sherriff and Irisa one of his deputies. While Nolan has to keep the peace, he also has to keep a careful eye on the rocky truce that is formed between the different races present in the city. The Iratheints, wild and untamed, outlaws of the new world, the Castithans, bold and aristocratic, they are a people of ancient traditions and laws and do not take kindly to others getting in their way. The Indogents, a race of biologically enhanced people who are fantastic technicians and doctors, The Volge, beings bred and designed for war and even Bio-men, beings of technological and genetic hypbridism, created by humans as weapons of war against the alien invasion.
What started out as a simple post-apocalyptic western drama, morphed into a highly complex show of intricate politics, deception, greed and betrayal. With so many different races you can be certain that there is a lot of differing opinions on how this new found truce will work out and a definite lack of trust all around. Mayor Rosewater is in a tough spot and is doing her best to keep the town together, but each race has their own idea on what’s going to happen. The aristocratic Datak Tarr (Tony Curran) and his wife Stahma (Jaimie Murray), are cunning and devious beyond belief, they strive to become the dominant power by any means necessary. Rafe McCawley (Graham Greene) is an old fashioned human landowner who has no intentions of seeing this world tainted any farther by an alien race that isn’t welcome. Mix that in with hidden pasts, dark secrets, and an ancient power that more than one party is looking for and you have a show that just screams second viewing.
The first few episodes of the series is a bit slow and reminds me a lot of a good old fashioned western complete with family feuds. About the midpoint of the series is where the show takes a sudden upswing and the reveal of weapon of incredible power that was lost 3000 years ago raises its head and the show picks up the pace quite a bit. A large amount of detail and information is crammed into a short 12 episodes, but never does the show feel rushed or overly drawn out. The ending leaves just enough to the imagination and enough on the table to have you begging for season 2 to begin. If I had to compare “Defiance” to anything I would compare it to a heavy dose of “Firefly” mixed in with a dark gritty version of Jack Carter from Eureka and just a hint of the bizarre with its Farscapeish alien designs. The show suffers from the SyFy CGI curse at times, but there is a certain style and feel that is completely unique and enjoyable to it as well.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=13087[/img]“Defiance” is presented in a very pleasing 1.78:1 VC-1 encode that while it has it’s quirks, is still a very pretty picture. Shot digitally it has a glossy CGI coated color palette, with a WILD display of conflicting and contrasting colors. Brilliant Whites of the Castican homes, complete with blown out contrasts that only enhance the feeling of being in a dream state, and the dark blues and neon colors of the human hang outs and bars. The CGI is a bit spotty in places, but SyFy does the best they can without a billion dollar budget to completely re-do the entire planet as an alien world. Skin tones can range anywhere from running a bit hot, to cool and smooth depending on which Alien race is being represented on screen. Detail is great for the most part. Sometimes the CGI and the occasional dark scene with digital noise can compromise the detail, but for a majority of the film the picture is crystal clear and shows some great depth, especially in outdoor scenes of the badlands. Dark scenes can be a problem with the digital cinematography, and as mentioned there was a few dark scenes where excessive digital noise marred the screen. Blacks were satisfactory is not great.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=13088[/img]Similar to the video quality, the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is a good track that struggles to break into greatness. As with most TV series the show is pretty front heavy for the most part, but being a sci-fi show it also has a decent chunk of action so the rears can light up with some action when called for. The first battle with the Vulge was where I really noticed heavy surround usage, but even then, I felt like something was missing. The dialogue is nice and clean as you would expect, albeit I DID notice a slight harshness to the vocals every once in a while. The LFE was pretty impressive as well, gunshots are deep and guttural, explosions rocked my subs, but there was this feeling that this could have had so much more chances for LFE if given the proper TLC. Overall a good track, and pretty impressive for a TV show’s budget.
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
• Making "Defiance"
• "Defiance": A Transmedia Revolution
• Behind the Scenes with Jesse Rath
“Defiance” caught me by surprise, I had barely heard anything about it before the announcement of the Blu-ray release, and the few comments I heard by most people was that they thought it was a bit boring and had given up in the first few episodes. While I agree that it starts off a little slow (many first seasons tend to be this way) the show definitely picks up and turns into something rather special by the end of the season. The similarities to “Firefly” are startling at times but not in a copycat type of way. The rough western feel to the series, the dark “Farscape” like characters and the quirky sense of humor from Jack Carter (if Jack was a bit less upstanding) endeared the show to me and gives me a sense of impatience for 2014 when we can find out just what Irissa has opened the door to in season 2. I definitely give it a thumbs up and recommend a viewing for the sci-fi fan in all of us.
Starring: Grant Bowler, Julie Benz, Tony Curran
Created by: Rockne S. O'Bannon
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 VC-1
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Universal Studios
Runtime: 559 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: Oct 15th, 2013
Buy Defiance: Season 1 Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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