Defiant

Got around to watching Defiance, Sy Fy’s new video-game-tie-in series. It’s a pretty cool setting, I think, but man alive do they need to throw out the Big Book of Cliche they’re writing from. Not a single character or plot twist was a surprise. One trope after another. For a planet that has been colonized and even terraformed by multiple alien races, it’s a predictable place. I may give it another episode or two. You always have to give pilots and first seasons a little leeway.

Incidentally, why would they need to terraform Earth? If our atmosphere was toxic to them, changing it significantly would make it toxic to US, but none of the humans in the show have any trouble getting by. Maybe the terraforming was an accident, letting a bunch of  invasive species into a new environment that can’t absorb them – things change you don’t mean to, usually for the worse. In which case it wouldn’t be terraforming so much as simply an eco-disaster.

Though terraforming of any sort on any planet would be an eco-disaster, depending on your point of view.

Another flaw: it’s yet another setting where we have people walling the world out instead of learning to live with the ecosystem in harmony. Can we grow up already with this? The wall was destroyed in the pilot, so either it’ll stay down, which would be interesting, it’ll be repaired in between episodes (or the urgent repair thereof will be a sub-plot for a while), which will be boring.

Otherwise, it’s cheesy, but not Warehouse 13 level intolerable. I don’t know. It’s got that thing where every single person acts far more tough and scarred and bad-ass than really seems necessary, but without the humor (Firefly) or the gravitas (Battlestar Galactica) to balance it and make it believable. I know things are tough, but this isn’t The Road you guys are living in, people. It’s sort of the opposite problem from Falling Skies, which I thought had an oddly upbeat tone and mood given the horrific circumstances the characters were living in. It’s a tough balance to strike, I guess.

Maybe that’s why The Walking Dead is working as well as it is despite massive flaws in the writing. The mood and atmosphere is perfect, so it’s excusable that you actually root for three-quarts of the cast to be eaten alive.

Anyway, it’s an interesting set of ideas, but unless they can get the writing level up a few dozen notches it’ll fade into Terra Nova-obscurity pretty fast. This sort of thing is fine in a video game where the story only serves to get your character somewhere to kill things, but I don’t want to waste my time on it. Seriously, my DVR is clogged up with like 80 other shows right now. (This is not to be taken as a statement that video games can’t have good writing – they can. But I think we can agree that on most it is largely perfunctory.)

(Neither here nor there, that one girl is way cuter as a human than an alien. Does that make me racist? Please advise.)

How cool would the show I want be, though? Have a setting humans have to adapt to and live with, rather than destroying everything and contorting the landscape to serve the needs of the guys who’ve excused themselves from the food chain. At least represent the idea. Someone get on adapting a Kim Stanley Robinson book for HBO.

But we live in a world where we still put schools and playgrounds right next to factories because jobs and freedoms or whatever, so probably we’ll not see that sort of thing for a long time.

2 thoughts on “Defiant”

  1. I’m interested because it’s from Rockne O’Bannon, who created the greatest scifi series of all time (Farscape of course). That had a rocky start too.

  2. I knew that name was familiar. I’ll definitely give it a chance, then, though I never got around to watching much Farscape.

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