Defiance is an American science fiction television series developed by Rockne S. O'Bannon, Kevin Murphy, and Michael Taylor. The series is produced by Universal Cable Productions, intransmedia collaboration with Trion Worlds, who are producing an MMORPG video game of the same name, which will be tied into the series. Defiance stars Grant Bowler as Joshua Nolan, the local lawman in a border town known as Defiance, as well as Julie Benz, who plays the newly appointed mayor of Defiance, Amanda Rosewater. Also starring are Stephanie Leonidas, Tony Curran, Jaime Murray, Graham Greene, and Mia Kirshner.
The series is broadcast in the United States on the cable channel Syfy and in various international markets. It premiered on Monday, April 15, 2013 in the United States, and that same week in most countries that picked up the series.On May 10, 2013, Syfy renewed Defiance for a 13 episode second season which aired starting in June 2014. On September 25, 2014, Syfy renewed Defiance for a third season.
Set in a near-future where Earth has been radically reformed to cause changes in topography, the extinction of plant and animal species, and the emergence of new species, the series follows a Human drifter and his adopted Irathient daughter putting down roots in Defiance, a city-state community where humans and several extraterrestrial races collectively known asVotans coexist in the ruins of St. Louis.
The series is set in the near future, where aliens known collectively as Votans have come to Earth seeking a new home after their star system was destroyed in a stellar collision. The Votans had thought Earth was uninhabited, but upon their arrival in 2013 discover that humans are living on the planet, who respond to them with hostility and suspicion. A limited number of Votans are allowed to settle in a colony in Brazil, and eventually three other colonies, but millions of Votans remained in hypersleep aboard their ships in orbit as negotiations dragged on with Earth governments for full-scale settlement.
Tensions rose for ten years, but the Votan and human governments were on the verge of negotiating a peaceful settlement, when in 2023 the Votan ambassador to the United Nations was assassinated by a disgruntled human supremacist on live television outside of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. This sparked a disastrous global conflict between humans and the aliens known as the Pale Wars.The wars tore apart the planet for seven years, until their culmination in 2030 in the apocalyptic "Arkfall" event, when the Ark fleet in orbit mysteriously exploded.
The aliens think a rogue human commander was responsible, while humans suspect it was an alien weapons experiment gone wrong. Millions of Votans died. During the Arkfall, destroyed Arks rained down on Earth and accidentally released terraformer technology. While the Votans had intended to use their terraforming technology in a carefully planned manner, the Arkfall haphazardly unleashed chaotic and radical changes to the biosphere and even the geology of Earth, making the planet dangerous to both humans and the aliens. The earth was scorched, chasms opened in the ground, new mountain ranges were raised, and the surface of the planet was covered with dust and debris.
Animal and plant species from the Votan star system were introduced to Earth, and both native and alien animal species were horribly mutated by the uncontrolled terraformer technology, creating bizarre and dangerous hybrids and new species.Within a few months, the Pale Wars wound down as both sides had fought to the point of mutual exhaustion, and a ceasefire was declared. Few organized governments remained for either the humans or the aliens, and both sides factionalized as their members began looking out for themselves.
In several areas, local human and Votan militias began to band together when they realized that they had to cooperate if they hoped to survive on this new, almost alien planet.The debris from the destroyed Ark fleet now forms an artificial "Ark belt" in Earth orbit, which periodically rains down in small scale "Arkfalls", which present a hazard for survivors on the surface, but also provide valuable opportunities to salvage advanced technology aboard the Arks. More frequently, most of the debris breaks up on re-entry into shards of metal shrapnel, a dangerous phenomenon known as "razor rain".
Electromagnetic distortion created by the malfunctioning terraformers have rendered most long-distance communication and air transit impossible, isolating far-flung regions much as they would have been in the 19th century. Low-flying aircraft such as helicopters will still function, but high-altitude long-distance flights are too dangerous; neither the humans nor the Votans are capable of launching vehicles into Earth's orbit anymore, as it is not only dangerous, but prohibitively expensive for societies that only just managed to pull themselves back from complete collapse.
Fifteen years after the armistice, a new proposed maglev train line is being built with the goal of re-establishing regular transit between the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America. Short-range radio stations will still function within the localized area of a town, as will personal smartphone-like devices known as hailers, but otherwise, the disruption of long-range telecommunications means that information must be sent between different regions by courier. At best, an unreliable method known as "text relay" can be used, in which local radio-stations rebroadcast a message received from a neighboring station to reach other regions of the continent, but this can take days or weeks.
In 2046, fifteen years after the armistice, both humans and Votans struggle to rebuild on this shattered world. In the western hemisphere, the Votanis Collective controls much of Central and South America, while the new unified Earth Republic has a major foothold in the populous cities of northeastern North America, now reorganized as a territorial unit known as "Columbia" (a combination of the United States' Boston-to-Washington megalopolis and Canada's Quebec City–Windsor Corridor, along with the Canadian Maritime Provinces), with its capital in New York City. Otherwise, much of North America remains a badlands region, a "New Frontier" slowly being recolonized by several small independent republics and city-states. One such community is the independent city-state of Defiance, located in the heart of the continent, built over the ruins of St. Louis, Missouri.
Music of Defiance:
Defiance's score (both series and game) was assigned to Bear McCreary. Bear said that he had to be sure that each version (series and game) had its own unique characteristics, suited to its needs, but also that musical threads united the franchise. He also stated that scoring a project like Defiance was a rare situation for a composer. "Heavy synths and ethnic soloists played a key role in defining the sound of “Defiance,” but the cinematic quality came from working with a string orchestra.[...] I was asked to help bring the alien cultures to life by developing a distinct musical heritage for each. I fashioned Votan instrumentation and lyrics into a variety of popular songs and ceremonial pieces. I wrote pieces for street musicians that float through open-air marketplaces. I produced alien classical music, jingles, jazz, rock-anthems and torch songs."
Critical reception of Defiance has been "mixed or average" according to Metacritic, with a 57% rating according to 17 reviews. Maureen Ryan of The Huffington Post called it "a smart, well-crafted TV show with a good cast and an adventurous flavor" and added "it's also indisputably science fiction, which is a relief," saying that she felt too many science fiction shows were "watered-down... genre-lite dramas".
She also praised the casting, performances and the production design. Ellen Gray of the Philadelphia Daily News noted that "the TV show may not break new ground... but it does stand on its own as a watchable sci-fi series, with a Wild West vibe mixed with a bit of 'Farscape'-meets-'West Side Story.'" Conversely, David Hinckley of the New York Daily News gave it one star out of five and found it to be "incomprehensible", but said "if you’re a sci-fi fan for whom this stuff can never be too complex, have at it."
Other reviewers gave Defiance average reviews and noted its similarity to previous television series, while at the same time praising its "breathtaking" landscapes and "impressively rendered" monsters; its "intriguing" cast and setting; its digital effects and performances; and its mythology and "interesting" story.