Categorised | US TV reviews

Third-episode verdict: Defiance (SyFy/SyFy UK)

Posted on May 1, 2013 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

BarrometerDefiance.jpgA Barrometer rating of 4

In the US: Mondays, 9/8c, SyFy
In the UK: Tuesdays, 9pm, SyFy UK

Sigh. What a waste. Of all the things SyFy could have been pouring its money into, this is the one it chose: Defiance, a sci-fi cash-in on Game of Thrones that's big on world-building but poor on characters.

Now, it wasn't unreasonable of them. The first, feature-length episode wasn't half bad, showing signs of imagination and proper science-fiction concepts at the heart of it all. True, in terms of people's relationships, gender politics et al, it was extraordinarily conventional, but at least there was some promise and Game of Thrones isn't exactly going to give The Left Hand of Darkness a run for its money in the feminist stakes either.

Since then, though, things have progressed to beyond ordinary, dropping all that expensive world-building and fun in exactly the same way that Terra Nova did, in an effort to build up the characters. Unfortunately, as a result, the show has become a simple tale of a conventional, slightly roguish sheriff having to solve mysteries against a backdrop of people with weird foreign customs who need to be shown the wisdom of truth, justice and, above all, The American Way. Particularly that bit of The American Way about husbands/men being in charge and the few women around needing men's support if they're going to make any decisions.

It still looks good and it's got Julie Benz in it so it can never be entirely terrible, but everything in it has been done to death and done better elsewhere, and while it has a whole lot of imagination, it's an imagination that doesn't know much about people.

Barrometer rating: 4
Rob's prediction: With so much money sunk into it, it's a cert for a second season, but it'll need a major revamp if it's to do anything but erode viewers over time.

Related entries

  • June 24, 2014: Review: Dominion 1x1 (SyFy)
    A review of the first episode of SyFy's Dominion

Read other posts about:

Allowable comments

You can leave just about any kind of comment you like. You can argue, suggest I am (or anyone else is) wrong, leaving general messages of love – anything. However, you absolutely can't leave messages that attack other commenters (or me), are simple variations of "your review sucks" or that are misogynistic, racist, homophobic, etc: your comment will either be edited or deleted and you'll be barred from leaving any further comments. We want to keep it civil here.


You can hide a spoiler by putting <spoiler> before it and </spoiler> after it. Hover over a spoiler to reveal it!

Featured Articles

The Bold Type

Journalism for people who can't read more than a Tweet