Sunday, July 28, 2013

Defiance: Alien DJ, Great Music, Star Wars Bar on Earth

I caught the first season of Defiance over the past few nights.  The new SyFy post-apocalyptic drama joins The Walking Dead, Falling Skies, and more in this now flourishing television genre.   But Defiance has a few special facets going for it:
  • The music is just fantastic, starting with the Johnny Cash - June Carter "We Got Married in a Fever" (aka "Jackson") in the first episode to Raya Yarbrough's outstanding cover of Cindi Lauper's "Time after Time" near the end - and even a fine cover by Yarbrough of The Five Stairsteps' "Ooh Child" somewhere in the middle.   Bear McCreary, of Battlestar Galactica fame, has done his customarily brilliant job with the music throughout.
  • Speaking of BSG, there's a lot of its flavor and feel in Defiance, which I take as a good thing.
  • There's even a kid in a radio station in Defiance - making a pair with the DJ in Under the Dome - but in Defiance the kid is an alien.   Anything that harkens to Alan Freed, Murray the K, and Wolfman Jack is a plus in my book.
But speaking of aliens, there's a tad too many of them - seven different alien species, that is, which came to Earth as part of the Votan collective.   I'd be happy with just the three major brands, Irathient, Castithan, and Imogen.   The additional species, including Earth mutants which add to the seven, give Defiance the ambience of a Star Wars bar scene, and an everything-but-the-kitchen sink effect, which has the unintentional consequence of giving Defiance a slight touch of parody.

The sex, though, is pretty good - between Castithan Datak Tarr and his wife, and Irathient Irisa and Tommy, her human lover.   Thanks to our childish, unconstitutional FCC, we see no real skin - and the Castithan custom of bathing privately in bathing suits is inconsistent with their otherwise hedonistic culture.   But expecting our television networks to stand up to the FCC is a hopeless case, even if the FCC has never tried to exercise power over cable television.

The plot works well, with a good mix of unexpected heroes and villains, and characters you can care about.  I'm looking forward to season 2.





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