Ro­mance, mys­tery? Must be new SF se­ries

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - BRAD OSWALD

IF you don’t like the ver­sion of Earth’s fu­ture be­ing pro­posed by prime-time TV shows, just wait a cou­ple of weeks — an alternative fu­ture view is bound to come along.

The lat­est sci­ence-fic­tional reimag­in­ing of what lies ahead ar­rives this week in the form of De­fi­ance, a near-fu­ture but rel­a­tively far­fetched drama that pre­mieres Mon­day at mid­night on Show­case (though at first glance, this looks to be a se­ries that would feel much more at home on Space).

Set in the year 2046, on a planet Earth that has been mas­sively re­con­fig­ured since the ar­rival of/in­va­sion by seven dif­fer­ent alien races, De­fi­ance fo­cuses on a former mil­i­tary man named Joshua Nolan (played by Grant Bowler), who has been re­duced to scav­eng­ing the wrecks of downed space­craft for any­thing of value he can sal­vage and sell.

He’s ac­com­pa­nied by his adopted daugh­ter, Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas), a young alien of the Irathient per­sua­sion whom he rescued af­ter she was aban­doned in the waste­lands.

When the se­ries opens, the pair are cruis­ing the bad­lands in their duneb­uggy-ish “roller” when they see a crip­pled alien craft streak through the sky on a crash-bound tra­jec­tory. They race to the point of im­pact — first on the scene — and lay claim to some power-source ma­te­ri­als that could be worth mil­lions on the open mar­ket — more than enough to al­low them to take that va­ca­tion to “ex­otic” Antarc­tica (yes, Earth’s cli­mate has been al­tered, as well) that Joshua has been promis­ing.

Be­fore they can ex­tri­cate them­selves from the wreck­age, how­ever, they’re am­bushed by what amounts to a fu­tur­is­tic biker gang, and they’re forced to fight their way out of a very tough spot.

Their in­evitable hasty re­treat leads them to the town of De­fi­ance, which, as is ob­vi­ous from the frac­tured steel arch that tow­ers over the set­tle­ment, is built on the ru­ins of what was once St. Louis.

Pro­tected from war­ring in­vaders by a mas­sive elec­tric force-field wall, De­fi­ance is a place where an un­easy peace has been achieved by the hu­man pop­u­la­tion and mem­bers of the seven alien races. Try­ing to main­tain that calm is newly in­stalled Mayor Amanda Rose­wa­ter (Julie Benz), whose first two weeks on the job have been any­thing but smooth.

Ten­sions have reached a fever pitch be­tween mine owner Rafe McCaw­ley (Gra­ham Greene), the town’s most pow­er­ful hu­man, and Datak Tarr (Tony Cur­ren) a leader of the Castithan race who is ba­si­cally De­fi­ance’s

Star­ring Grant Bowler, Stephanie Leonidas, Julie Benz, Tony Cur­ran, Mia Kir­sh­ner and Gra­ham Greene Mon­day at mid­night Show­case

½ out of five rul­ing crime boss. They’ve hated each other since their first forced meet­ing, so it goes with­out say­ing that things get nasty — and deadly — when it’s learned that their teenage chil­dren — Tarr’s son, and McCaw­ley’s daugh­ter — have fallen in love. It’s Romealien and Juliet, ba­si­cally. The for­bid­den ro­mance be­comes en­tan­gled in a mur­der mys­tery, but be­fore all of that can be sorted out, De­fi­ance finds it­self fac­ing a much big­ger threat from out­side its bor­ders — one that forces ev­ery­one, from ev­ery race and planet, to band to­gether to save their set­tle­ment.

De­fi­ance jumps from the gate quickly, but then gets bogged down a bit in the in­evitable task of in­tro­duc­ing characters and ex­plain­ing, at least in rudi­men­tary fash­ion, the var­i­ous races and cul­tures. Joshua and Irisa pro­vide a well-an­chored cen­tre­point as the story un­folds, and once its ba­sics are ex­plained, the sto­ry­line up-shifts into an en­gag­ing mix of space-soapy in­trigue and CGIen­hanced ac­tion.

If the first cou­ple of episodes are a fair in­di­ca­tion of what’s to come, De­fi­ance — whose TV de­but is be­ing matched by the launch of a com­pan­ion video game that ex­pands the sto­ry­line — stands a pretty good chance of at­tract­ing the solid, faith­ful and de­tail-ob­sessed sort of fol­low­ing that all shows in the sci-fi genre de­sire. It’s smart, stylish and pretty cool to look at, even if it isn’t on the chan­nel where you’d log­i­cally ex­pect to find it.

PHO­TOS BY JOE PUGLIESE / SYFY

De­fi­ance cast mem­bers Tony Cur­ran (from left), Jaime Mur­ray, Julie Benz, Mia Kir­sh­ner, Grant Bowler, Stephanie Leonidas and Gra­ham Greene in the city pro­tected by an elec­tric force field; Trenna Keat­ing

(right) as Doc Yewll.

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