Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Defiance Season 1 Episode 2: Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go

Defiance seems to have achieved what they're shooting for. A nice "classic" western sci-fi that plays out like a good tabletop RPG. Here's the Amazon link to Season 1 if you'd like to stream it:

This week there was a good caving adventure (I refuse to say, "spelunking", as this is what novice cavers call it), and we're treated to some nice destroyed Earth scenery and even some well-written character development (as well as some hit-you-over-the-head character development). There's also a nice doing-what's-right-vs-tradition storyline with a somewhat predictable ending, although still done well.
I'm not saying that you have to surprise me. Nothing in this episode really surprised me, and nothing in the previous episode did either. They're consistently doing everything they're supposed to be doing. I don't know if it's that it's been done before, that I am so involved in fantasy and sci-fi that I am being nit-picky when others wouldn't notice, or what, but although my attention is riveted and I find myself enjoying what's on the television, I don't have anything spectacular to say about the show.

There's something to be said about watching masters of the craft do a show completely right, but it sure feels like it's missing a spark of some sort.

That's why I said this show is a "classic" sci-fi western. They got the feel that I assume they're shooting for and they're going with it. It works well for what I imagine its intended audience is: people that are familiar with tabletop RPGs, sci-fi and video games. I don't have a problem seeing this play out on the screen, and in fact, I am quite enjoying seeing it, but I keep hoping they're going to floor me in the way that Doctor Who or Battlestar Galactica does. I also imagine that they're hoping to snare more than just the usual suspects.

Still, not having some great spark doesn't mean they haven't gotten the formula right. It seems they are delivering on all accounts.

The thing that will stick with me the most in this particular episode is the white alien girl's scene with the miner's daughter. Her casual relation of how she ended up with her husband, the entire time while smiling her ass off, was one of the creepiest things I've ever seen. It's a big smile. It's a smile that conveys absolute glee. Creeeeeeepy. (if it's not clear, creepy's a good thing).

("Stahma Tarr" is the "white alien girl", but I didn't know that without looking it up. And although I can butcher a pronunciation of their race, I don't know what it is again without looking it up: "Castithan". One thing I always hate in sci-fi are the names. I always just remember them as "that one guy" or "that one girl" and "those things with the things". The miner's daughter is "Christie McCawley". Again, I'm rubbish with names in big casts, but especially sci-fi.)

Near the end I was surprised to hear a cover of Nirvana's "Come As You Are". I didn't hear Kurt Cobain rolling in his grave or anything, but I did hear the collective gasp of thousands of 80s children who thought Nirvana songs were sacrosanct. Here's a Youtube video if yins would like to decide for yourself (it was used well in the episode I thought):

A little rambly with this review tonight and I apologize, but I've never had so many mixed feelings about an episode. Defiance did what I was hoping they would do in making the second episode better than the first. If they can do that one more time, I think they'll be sticking around (although Stargate Galaxy was great and they canned that. One bad thing about having big hype is the increased budget means increased expectations), or at least I will be sticking around if they can do it one more time.

I went back and forth between A- and A, but decided to give it an A-. It's doing everything right, but it's not reaching for anything. A- is fantastic by the way. Some of my favorite shows regularly skate by with Bs and Cs (I'm looking at you, Castle).

Zero's Review: A- 9.0/10

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