Some thoughts on the state of sci-fi on TV, new show Defiance and a possible brighter future for the genre

I can be incredibly picky and quick to judge when it comes to new TV shows. I watch a lot of television and therefore can’t stick with shows that I only mildly enjoy or which may get better given a season. Nope I need to see potential straight away.

I have found it particularly quite difficult to get into any new sci-fi shows lately, a genre that I adore – that contains some of my all time favourite shows such as Battlestar Galactica, Farscape, Lost and Fringe mainly because sci-fi has been pretty dead. Even at a time where the genre is doing incredibly well at the box office, it seem like on TV the networks have veered towards more fantasy/horror/supernatural series and whilst they don’t always work they have often proved a huge success especially The Walking Dead and American Horror Story for cable and Once Upon A Time for network.

This though seems to have been at the cost of good sci-fi series, ones that can last more than a season or two. Look at The Event, Flash Forward and V as recent examples of how badly the genre has been doing.   I think these shows have failed for a couple of reasons; they all tried to be the next Lost instead of something new, something different and forgot one of the reasons why Lost was successful was because audiences loved the characters. Also these shows seemed focussed on present day events instead of exploring the wider possibilities of the genre.

When Fringe ended in January I realised the only sci-fi show I am currently watching is Doctor Who. That since SyFy canned Stargate Universe (a series I admittedly didn’t like much but at least was in space) and scrapped the plans to bring BSG: Blood and Chrome to a full series that there were no sci-fi shows set in space or even involving space ships.

Now of course sci-fi can come in many forms like with Fringe it was more science based but growing up with shows like Star Trek, Farscape and countless others it seemed weird to me that no show was currently exploring that side.

New SyFy show Defiance doesn’t really rectify that as its based on Earth but it does add another staple of sci-fi that has been missing from TV shows as well and that is different alien races living together. I like that a lot, also it gives us space ships in the skies and possibly alien technology and well for the first time in years SyFy is embracing sci-fi again and that can only be a good thing.

Their recent pilot announcements including shows by Bryan Fuller and Ronald D Moore give me hope that the genre can come alive again on TV and that it can be successful by you know actually giving audiences alien races and space instead of present day settings and a purely human cast of characters.

Defiance as many people have already pointed out is hardly original, it does contain a lot of well known sci-fi tropes and can sometime be predictable because of that but and this is high praise from me I didn’t hate it, it has a lot of potential and like I said I just need to be able to see that in order to give a show a chance.

I hope it becomes part of a new set of shows willing to embrace all the wonder and weirdness sci-fi can show us.

Defiance observations

+ I have a thing for scheming power couples so I love the Tarrs and their devious plans to marry their son off and gain control of the mines.

+ Doctor Yewll is sarcastic and fun and I hope we see more of her (I’m assuming her because of the actress but not sure if the race actually has genders)

+ I didn’t see that twist at the end coming; the devious former mayor is more than an old woman looking for retirement. Watch out.

+ Unlike a certain other sci-fi show set in the near future (Revolution), I didn’t outright hate any of the characters! A good sign.

+ The music! Bear McCeary is a god in my eyes, his work on BSG is absolutely stunning and you can hear that shows influence on some of the score.

+ I really hope they don’t go down the love triangle route with the Mayor, her sister and Nolan. Love triangles are the worst.

+ Nothing like a bit of Johnny Cash, that scene immediately made me smile and interested in the characters.

Defiance is currently airing on Mondays at 9/8C on SyFy

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