Thursday, July 16, 2015

Defiance: Bigger Than Battlestar Galactica?

"Bigger Than Battlestar."
-SciFiNow #79-

Much like the exceptionally clever, succinct name applied to the local bar/whorehouse in Defiance, the Need/Want, sci-fi writers are always needing or wanting to write about the next big thing for their respective papers or magazines. They often spew a variety of grand declarations or protestations on a given new title and then seemingly move along to the next big thing without genuinely close inspection. And this is no indictment of UK publication SciFiNow. They offer reasonable ongoing coverage to most science fiction.

The question was asked in SciFiNow if Defiance would indeed be "bigger than Battlestar" Galactica? Because everything is a competition you know. A science fiction series can't lean back on its own merits. It must be compared, contrasted and dissected.

If you consider viewership it's likely SyFy's Defiance (2013-present) has yet to reach the heights of SyFy's Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009), and may never or may yet do so, but when it first started it came close in the ratings.

Truth be told, Defiance is at least as big as Battlestar in scope and in epic world-building. It may in fact surpasses the level of detail and mythology-weaving of Battlestar Galactica and lands itself squarely in Farscape O'Bannon territory as one might expect. And I thoroughly enjoyed the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, another series steeped in caustic, topical, social commentary with great intimacy. But Defiance indeed aims big and, like Battlestar Galactica, mostly scores shooting bold despite its complexity.

The show itself was essentially based on a 200 page Defiance bible that offered the building blocks to the series. This is precisely why Defiance has delivered such depth within its alien cultures. The show even relied upon a linguist to get a number of languages right for the respective alien races. The resulting terra-formed Earth is so vast in scope and detail thanks to such attention. From Defiance to the outlying Badlands to the Earth Republic and much more Defiance is pushing its world out with each new episode. Defiance offers the kind of expanse Firefly (2002) was shooting for, Farscape (1999-2003) achieved and yet Defiance is here and still with us.

If you haven't considered the series and supporting it with a religious fervor you should likely do so before it's too late. Time is of the essence.

On the achievements of just three seasons alone (and with little regard for the video game---I'm just not a gamer), I can't help but wonder and hope for what is to come. There is so much potential back story available for exploration as much as there are stories to weave regarding alien-human and alien-alien interpersonal relationships.

Defiance, without any of the fanfare of Games Of Thrones, is quietly creating a science fiction drama and universe that will likely endure like its O'Bannon predecessor Farscape if they can take this thing and make it just a bit bigger and bit longer. But it does need time. Defiance is to science fiction what the world constructing narrative of George R.R. Martin's Game Of Thrones is to fantasy or what Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings was to fantasy.

It's rare to encounter such a thoughtful, magnificent place within which to explore. It's rare for another Farscape-like, Firefly-like mythos to come along for television and what a shame if it were to slip through our grasp. To miss this opportunity to support it as it grows and pushes the boundaries of its potential would be like allowing Firefly to slip through our fingertips once again. It would be like losing a Stargate Universe (2009-2011) all over or Defiance show runner Kevin Murphy's Caprica (2010). Let's not allow this opportunity to slip us by. If the less cerebral Falling Skies can endure for five seasons, my God can't we see Defiance make it at least as long?

Defiance gives us a universe that makes me believe in the possibilities of science ficiton. I want to visit Defiance. It feels that real thanks to all of the creative minds behind it.

Grant Bowler noted it's like "heaven on a stick." I'm thinking much bigger and better than a corn dog. As he gushed over his involvement he noted the "established world" as "beautifully evolved and developed." They don't come along like this one very often. O'Bannon brings a kind of old school, science fiction defiance to the table with each and every effort. Defiance is simply gorgeous in its results to build a bigger universe and yes, one potentially bigger than the dark sometimes claustrophobic Battlestar.

This is not to unfairly make the comparison. Both are exceptional and unique, but I borrow the question from SciFiNow to touch upon Defiance as big, epic science fiction, but also replete with the intimacy of character that infused Battlestar Galactica. We don't need to compare them at all, we simply need Defiance to achieve its potential.

I wish we had all been on board the Serenity. I wish we had all been on board the Destiny (even if it meant being stuck there). It may be an Earth bound sci-fi tale but I am definitely on board for Defiance. Fans of science fiction should all enjoy this one before that ship has sailed.

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