The aftermath of a failed alien invasion left the Earth terraformed, essentially with the old Earth covered in a new layer of…er…earth and a new ecology. The few human survivors are only one of eight species living there now and the world has some elements of western frontier mixed with new technology with criminal activity and corruption rife. When you consider there’s a massive bar and whore house in the large town ‘Defiance’, from which this series got its name, it is clearly not designed for anyone under the age of consent.
Occasionally, old starships from the war crash down to Earth and various factions seek out the technology, especially as in the case of Joshua Nolan (actor Grant Bowler) and his adopted alien daughter Irisa (actress Stephanie Leonidas) who run foul of a local biker gang of her own species and they take refuge in the nearby town or semi-city of Defiance. Nolan was a former military officer for the Earth Republic and gets persuaded by Mayor Amanda Rosewater (actress Julie Benz) to become the sheriff…sorry, I mean Chief Lawkeeper when an attack by another alien faction occurs and he shows himself capable rallying the people. From there on, we have their adventures and trying to keep the peace.
Much of these twelve episodes appear to be establishing what goes on and the various people, although the final episode seems to be one enormous attempt to cleanse the town of many of the cast. That does make me wonder if anyone had been given the standard fie year contract or based off availability for the second year.
The aliens are an odd bunch, many of whom have also got criminal persuasion so must feel right at home in the USA. It isn’t disclosed until near the end of the series that events are taking place in 2046, which is only 34 years into the future where most of you reading this are still likely to be alive, assuming you survive this invasion. Do you think that’s far enough forward?
Chief amongst the white-skinned white-haired aliens are Datak Tarr (actor Tony Curran) and his wife Stahma Tarr (actress Jaime Murray) which must have come from a really unusual looking world if everything is so white or they have different priorities when it comes to laundry. A different white but golf-textured alien is Doctor Ywell (actress Trenna Keating). To say that they are as deceitful as humans is putting it mildly and its sort of like pulling onion leaves to see what’s behind everything as different agendas are revealed over time.
All the cast do a good job but I couldn’t help wonder if the creators were making some of it up as they went along. I mean, with the opening you would have thought Defiance was a town alone but later there are connections to other towns/cities and the more organised Earth Republic, any of which you would have thought could have been contacted when they knew they were going to be attacked for aid. The energy field used to keep out strangers seems to have been forgotten after the pilot episode.
It’s noted in the first episode that there are at least eight different alien refugee species on Earth although you’d be hard put to give them names let alone spell some of them until the last episode where they are spelt in sub-titles when the aliens speak in their own languages. Most of the aliens are seen as snapshot samples and although intriguing, can often be like fast food in not seeing enough of them culturally to really have much depth. Yes, there are strong hints but the stories themselves don’t do enough to leave stronger impressions and I have to confess that their species’ names still haven’t sunk in.
Watching this series, I can’t help wonder where they get all their food from. There doesn’t appear to be any agriculture, either crop growing or farm animals in the quantity needed to feed them all. OK, one could easily say they used the surrounding countryside except a lot of the time they were keeping other aliens at bay in the town so there would be no protection out there. If the Earth has an alien ecology after the terraformation, then how did anyone survive with all the new soil material being chucked on top? Defiance is on top of St. Louis by at least half a mile above. That’s a lot of turf to survive being laid, let alone waiting for the new plant life to take hold and provide a food source. Remember this is only 34 years into the future.
As with a lot of American SF shows, the first season tends to be the settling down time and season two will be where what they deem works will continue. With the last episode, the fates of several characters appear to be established and so it’ll be interesting to see what will be left for the next season.
I would have liked to have had more extras. A quarter of an hour of deleted scenes and a couple minutes of gag reel is all you’re going to get. It would have been handier to have had more background about the alien species far more than the people. I really do hope the release of season two on DVD will at least give some audio commentaries and more insight as to what is intended. The menu options are weird in their approach but intuitive. If there was anything else concealed as easter eggs, then it stayed concealed. Beware of alien devices.
(region 2 DVD: pub: Universal 8295084. 5 DVDs 530 minues 12 * 44 minutes and 2 extras. Price: £ 8.60 (UK) if you know where to look)
cast: Grant Bowler, Stephanie Leonidas, Graham Greene, Julie Benz, Tony Curran, Jaime Murray and Trenna Keating
check out website: www.universalpictures.com