While the aim of most sci-fi series is to boldly go where no man has gone before, Syfy channel’s new show Defiance manages to go one step further. Hailed as a kind of futuristic Western, Defiance is the first ever integrated TV series and video game, meaning when gamers go online to play, what’s happening in the show will be reflected in the scenarios in the game. ‘You don’t need to know anything about one to enjoy the other,’ says Mark Stern, the channel’s president of original content, ‘but if you know about both, it definitely adds to the experience.’
Set in 2046, the show depicts a time when aliens walk the Earth alongside humans. The aliens landed on Earth in 2013, having fled their dying solar system, but after negotiations failed, a war ensued, ravaging the earth’s landscape. The action takes place 16 years after the war has ended, though the truce is still an uneasy one. The humans don’t always get on with the aliens, while the aliens themselves, divided into seven species but collectively known as the Votans, aren’t always enamoured of each other either.
Against this backdrop, we meet Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler), a soldier who fought in the war and who returns to his hometown of St Louis, Missouri, with his adopted daughter Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas), a Votan warrior with a traumatic past. Finding the place little more than a border town which has been renamed Defiance, he becomes the town’s chief policeman and tries to keep the peace between humans and aliens. But some Defiance residents are more amenable to his lawmaking efforts than others.
There’s the Votan Doc Yewll, who arrived in Defiance to help the war wounded and ended up staying. Then there’s Datak Tarr (played by This Life’s Tony Curran), the alien kingpin of the town’s underworld. His ambitious Lady Macbeth-like wife, Stahma, is played by Jaime Murray, star of another popular sci-fi show, Warehouse 13, who says the show isn’t simply for geeks: ‘It’s a characterdriven piece. There’s always going to be something to play as long as human beings and aliens keep on growing and learning from each other.’
Grant Bowler — whose last TV role was opposite Lindsay Lohan in the Elizabeth Taylor biopic Liz & Dick — says, ‘Nolan is one of the few people in Defiance who can remember the world before all this happened and he’s emotionally scarred by that memory. Somewhere along the line he’s decided to latch onto this child who’s as scarred as he is. And maybe by saving her, he can save himself.’
Defiance, Tuesday, 9pm, Syfy
New sci-fi series Defiance is the first TV show to air in tandem with an online game: what happens in one affects
DATAK TARR (Tony Curran) A Castithan and chief adviser to the town’s mayor. ‘These characters are very complex with a lot of depth,’ says Scottish actor Curran DOC YEWLL (Trenna Keating) A fiercely smart member of the Indogene race who are the most scientifically advanced of all the Votans JOSHUA NOLAN (Grant Bowler) A former soldier, born before the aliens’ arrival on Earth. After the war he finds himself destitute and returns to his hometown to become chief lawkeeper IRISA NYIRA (STEPHANIE LEONIDAS) Adopted by Nolan when she was 10, Irisa serves as his deputy. She and Nolan ‘have a fiery relationship … but would do anything for each other,’ says Stephanie