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A Closer Look at Syfy’s Upcoming Defiance

By on August 24, 2012

Image © SyFy

By Jamie Krakover

Next year’s sci fi TV MMO gaming crossover, Defiance, has creators and writers juggling two concurrent story lines – the television show set in St. Louis and the game in San Francisco – which is quite an undertaking for a new series. Luckily, SyFy’s programming is on the rise. Success stories Alphas and Warehouse 13 kicked off new seasons recently, with Haven also set to return soon. Can these recent successes for the once-beleaguered channel mean Defiance will follow suit?

Defiance Ad at 2012 San Diego Comic Con

Defiance was huge at the 2012 San Diego Comic Con. SyFy created a giant marketing campaign for this year’s Con, including a massive banner on the side of one of the main hotels. All the stars were present for a panel and Q&A sessions. Plus there were teasers, Twitter campaigns, and numerous mentions of the show on G4’s coverage of Comic Con. SyFy appears to be investing quite a bit in Defiance, and we hope it lives up to all the hype.

Tony Curran as Datak Tarr and Jamie Murray as Stahma TarrImage © SyFy

In addition to its extensive marketing campaign, Defiance promises a diverse set of characters with some well known genre actors to fill those roles, including Dexter and No Ordinary Family star Julie Benz. She plays Amanda Rosewater, mayor of the post-apocalyptic town called Defiance. The town is located on the ruins of the present day city of St. Louis, Missouri. It’s Amanda’s job to maintain the peace in the town occupied by humans and seven alien races called the Votans who waged war on Earth when the humans refused to help them. (Touchy lot!)

Mayor Rosewater has a mortal enemy in Stahma Tarr, played by Jaime Murray (Warehouse 13, Dexter, Spartacus), wife to Datak Tarr, an elite alien, played by Tony Curran.  It’s going to be an interesting ride watching Murray and Benz – real-life friends –  developing a hatred for each other over the course of the show.

Also joining the cast is another veteran actor, Graham Green (Dances with Wolves, Die Hard with a Vengeance, The Green Mile), who plays Rafe McCawley, the owner of the largest mine in Defiance. Rafe gets caught in the middle of family and political struggles. Given the character description and Green’s incredible acting ability, it sounds as if Defiance will provide him with plenty of power struggles to keep viewers watching.

Sci Fi actor Grant Bowler, formerly of True Blood, Lost, and Farscape, plays the leading man, Jeb Nolan, a war torn marine who lost his family in the fight with the aliens. After wandering the desolated and terraformed Earth, he becomes the law enforcement of the inhabited regions. He’s sure to bring emotional depth to this high energy role.

With aliens, an ex-marine turned cop, a mineral-controlling tycoon, and a mayor, we are sure to see plenty of conflict and action. There should be something here to please everyone.

In addition to the cast, the list of writers and producers for Defiance is impressive. Michael Taylor (Battlestar Galactica), Rockne O’Bannon (Farscape), and Kevin Murphy (Desperate Housewives) have all worked on shows that feature great story telling and/or amazing science fiction elements. The talent they bring will hopefully turn Defiance into a great science fiction show with character driven plots and plenty of unexpected twists and turns.

Futuristic, terraformed St. Louis now called Defiance Image © SyFy

We’ve also had some sneak peaks into the setting which will be post-war, terraformed, futuristic St. Louis. Sounds awesome, right? Maybe I’m a bit biased, but as a native of St. Louis, Missouri I love that Defiance is set here and has the Arch as a backdrop. However, I do have some issues with how the landscape is laid out. It’s hard to believe that even after all that war and terraforming, the landscape changed so much but the Arch (even if it is earthquake proof) managed to remain mostly intact.

The St. Louis Arch today.

The river that St. Louis natives are accustomed to seeing behind the St. Louis Arch is surprisingly absent in the Defiance landscape, and Missouri has never been known to have a mountainous terrain. It has some gorgeous rocky hills, but nothing like what we see prominently displayed behind the Arch in the promo images for Defiance. Seeing houses and small buildings around the Arch is also a bit surreal. In addition, the current Arch grounds consist not only of a river, but also a large grassy area and some extremely historic buildings surrounding it, such as The Old Courthouse, where the Dredd Scott case was heard, Busch Stadium, and several other well known landmarks. How cool would it be if the show’s creators were to transform well known St. Louis landmarks into something else entirely! For instance, if they took a landmark like The Old Courthouse and transformed it into a bar, a clothing store, an alien prison, or anything other than its original function. Crazy landscape aside, the setting is extremely colorful, and is one of the more unique and eye-pleasing backdrops used in a science fiction show to date.

Although potential viewers have been treated to many intriguing insights from casting news to the recently released trailer, there’s still a lot of mystery surrounding Defiance both as a show and an MMO game. Many are still wondering how a TV show and an online game are going to work together, and if participating in only one or the other will lessen the experience.

Despite some of the risks this show poses, including its highly integrated TV show/gaming platform, Defiance looks extremely promising. You can check it out when it debuts in April 2013 on the Syfy Channel.

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