• Network: Syfy
  • Series Premiere Date: Apr 15, 2013
  • Season #: 1
User Score
7.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 207 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 32 out of 207

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  1. Apr 16, 2013
    9
    Pretty damn good so far for a science fiction series. I agree with the first review, the characters are diverse and deep. Only gave it a 9 because I thought if one of the races is synthetic, I would presume they would be less emotional. Good acting and a believable script make it enjoyable to watch if you love scifi.
  2. Apr 16, 2013
    5
    Defiance has a very interesting theme and feel to the show. It starts off attractive then gets completely predictable about a quarter of the way through the 2hr premiere. I was hoping for something jaw-dropping but aside from the creative aspects of the set and costume designs there was really nothing new. I do have to say that I am happy that this show was not like all other SyFy cheesey movies especially for the special effects which were also not that bad.

    Defiance's weakest point is on Story. Instead of trying to break new ground to establish a series, the show takes a traditional path similar to recent series with minimal character backgrounds, forced character introductions, and overall no real story arc introduced to add potential longevity for the show to hook audiences on. This seems to be a reoccurring theme in television these days as studios do not want to invest in the long run but rather a brief light show to gather attention. It is no Firefly, Battlestar, or Fallen Skies but maybe a level or two below them like V or Revolution. If this approach is going to be taken at least have 2 or 3 A list actors in there to carry the weight until the show can gain some ground.

    The show has potential though. The set is fantastic and really gives that futuristic world feel (a lot like New Caprica on BSG) and the diverse alien races might add for a Babylon 5 type race theme as the show develops. But the show needs to be bigger than one city. Defiance should mean an overall point to the show not a location (or term from an older war). The show needs to move fast and think big. Utilize the aliens more and get into their backgrounds. We already know what humans are and do so let's see some intergalactic aspects to add better stories and plots to the show.

    It is a decent start but I'm afraid its one that will require a good deal of help in order to stay relevant on Monday nights.
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  3. Apr 29, 2013
    1
    I really wanted to like this show...I gave it 2 shows but I can't watch it anymore. It is just terrible. Boring, slow plot lines. Too many cliches and annoying characters. Cheesy graphics. So-so acting. This isn't going anywhere. Surprised by the 7.3 user score average...not sure what they are all watching must be a different show.
  4. May 6, 2013
    7
    I am a big fan of Sci-fi and fantasy unfortunately Defiance is ok but not so great as i expected. Even the so-called aliens in the series are behaving very human and frankly the episodes so far are mostly boring. Anyway i still watch the show but older shows like StarGate SG1" or "StarGate Atlantis" or even Babylon 5 and Battlestar Galactica were way better from this show
  5. Mar 9, 2014
    8
    Don't judge based on the poor visuals of the first couple of episodes.
    The writing is quite good and alot of great characters.
    I was very skeptical of the series at first, especially considering the video game tie in and poor visual effects, but I cant see how the video game has affected the story arc and the effects have improved 10 fold.
  6. Apr 18, 2013
    10
    This show has so much potential.. it's mind numbing. Mix my two favourite genres (western/science fiction), add a splash of GoT (character deep development multiple story arcs) and add a pinch of 'Firefly' with a hint of 'The Wire' and you get Defiance.

    If that doesn't convince you to watch this show, then I don't know what will.

    10/10 Science Fiction back on Syfy.

    fin.
  7. May 14, 2013
    4
    I don't like it. It feels very cheap, lazy and forgettable. As an idea the potential for the story is immense, but is squandered on shallow and contrived plots that put Lost to shame. The aliens are, for lack of a better word, silly and uninteresting, while the visual effects only go further to cheapen the whole ensemble. I think its creators tried very hard to make it into "Firefly with Aliens" but they failed at every junction. What bugs me the most is that, better shows have been cancelled, but this "THING" gets renewed for a second season. Really? It's so redundant, it's embarrassing. Expand
  8. Apr 16, 2013
    9
    Defiance was executed very well in terms of story line interacting between both the show and the game, that is after all what they are trying to accomplish. The visuals were stunning, and the plot sets up an exciting future and leaves you wondering what will happen in future episodes. Being a player of the game, I understood probably more than the group that will only watch the show. Although it is not necessary to play the game, I understood where the crystal in the beginning game from, and when they mentioned the "99ers", i knew they were a cybernetic race 80% cyborg, 20% human. Also the future of the show may include an item called the "Ark Core" which you are in search of in the game, and could very well change the power source of many things to come in the town. The show may not implement any extremely new ideas, but for what it is, I believe it is presented flawlessly. Defiance is worth a watch, it's up to you if you decide to keep watching, but don't let this series pass you by because some snooty critics who only appreciate specific types of shows. If you enjoy Syfy originals with great visuals, lots of actions, and a deep story, Defiance is for you. Expand
  9. May 22, 2013
    4
    Defiance has a lot of potential and it looks like Syfy is really trying to promote this show, its already green-lit for a second season! But even with all the potential in the world Defiance feels flat, tossed up, unoriginal, and boring. The Pilot surprised me, even with its clear short comings, but I would go as far to say that the Pilot is probably the best episode so far out of the 6 that have aired. For me, the show is loosing a lot of steam and its steam that it never really had. The alien races feel very unoriginal and arent even interesting, they come off looking very odd and funny. The acting is below average, I feel like the man guy is the only actor who feels comfortable in the show. Defiance is episodic, meaning you dont really need to watch the episode before to understand the one your watching. I kept on giving Defiance a chance and after 6 episodes, I am now officially dropping the show. Defiance is a chore to watch and is only worth your time if you like cheap Syfy. Expand
  10. Apr 19, 2013
    0
    This series is just horrible. The plot is brainless, the acting is lousy and the props are even worse. The 1980s just called. They want their B-Movie story back. The 1990s called, too. They want their special effects back. Nothing in this show makes sense, the characters are just horribly played and the design of the aliens is so stupid it makes the worst parts of Star Trek look good. I usually give 1 point for trying, but this show does not even deserve that much. Expand
  11. May 26, 2013
    4
    I thought the pilot was okay. Good introduction to the characters, some action. A bit of story. But it was after the pilot that the series started to fall down for me. The special effects are really bad.. I'm not sure who they hired to do them but they just like the Sharktopolus ones and things they use in their other homemade movies (SyFy).

    The characters are wooden (the Mayor) or tend
    to overact in their character roles (the 'wildchild' alien girl) which makes it hard to take any of them seriously or care about them. The most interesting person on the show isn't even shown that much; the 'old mayor' who has done a lot of impressive movie credits to her resume. I wish it was more centered around her than the boring young mayor. The plots so far a a little unbelievable, but it's sci-fi stuff so one can make allowances. I really like the Castithan main badguy the best, he seems to be the best actor of the bunch and fits well in his skin as a believable alien and general bad-ass.

    The season finale was horrible (story wise). I find it utterly ridiculous that based on the past relationship between the Lawkeeper and the bounty hunter, that:

    1) The Lawkeeper would act so.. formal.. in regards to helping a long lost buddy earn LAWFUL money. Especially one who did as great a deed for him and the girl as we find out later.

    2) After above said history and acts, that the bounty hunter would willingly volunteer to do what he did... again.. under ANY circumstances. I'm not saying what exactly happened in case someone wants to see it later, but just think how humans would act/react in this situation and you see it makes absolutely NO SENSE as a final plotline. I actually found it insulting as a viewer that they think I'd believe something like that was actually possible.

    There are many other problems I had with this show, mostly agreeing with the below reviews assessments on where this series falls down. There are good points to this show as I mentioned and I LOVE that it's a new sci-fi show and not another boring drama or sitcom type thing.

    But this show is about as deep as the child's wading pool at your local swimming spot. The cheapness of the set design (looks like it was filmed in someone's parking lot) is apparent.

    I give it a 4 based simply because it's sci-fi and sometimes even bad sci-fi (like this is), is better than average reality shows or dramas.

    And don't get me started on the videogame version of this show. The only worse than the 4 I'm giving the show is the 2 I'm giving the broken down, buggy, on again/off again access, low content and hardly inspiring game called "Defiance" which they are selling for a laughingly low price of... $60 American dollars.
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  12. Apr 23, 2013
    1
    Just when you thought nothing could be worse than 'Revolution', this show pops up. Bad acting, bad writing, just about everything here is bad, it looks too forced and fake and it tries to be smart when it clearly isn't.
  13. Apr 22, 2013
    9
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Defiance kicks off with a scene the evokes memories of the final series of Fringe. If you watched that series and I say the scene in the park with observers you will know what I mean. The scene shows the arrival of the Votans, a collection of alien races who have travelled to earth after their own home was destroyed. Although we do not see it on screen (fingers crossed for flashbacks) we learn that there was war after the aliens arrival. We then skip forward decades later after war and terraforming have completely changed the planet. It is here we meet Nolan (Grant Bowler), an ex solider who fought in the war against the Votans and his daughter Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas). The pair make a living as Ark hunters, retrieving lost relics of advanced or alien origin for cash. It’s a shame that we only get a glimpse of this side of Nolan as there was definitely a bit of an Indy Jones vibe to the job and Nolan filled the hard done by adventurer role quite nicely in his intro scene.

    After their latest ark hunting mission goes awry Nolan and Irisa end up in a settlement known as Defiance and that’s where things really start to go wrong for the pair.

    With its Sci-fi meets western theme, with a scoundrel set in the central role, it’s hard not to think of shows like Firefly or a film like Stars Wars. Any familiarity with these well worn themes and situations will probably mean that you will spot most of the dialogue and plot developments in Defiance coming a mile off. The characters, in this opening episode, read like a who’s who of walking cliches’

    The scoundrel who, when push comes to shove, will do the right thing.

    The pair of star crossed lovers.

    The shady businessman who runs all the gambling and dodgy goings on who has designs on controlling the town.

    The sassy prostitute with the heart of gold who runs the local whorehouse.

    The young and inexperienced Deputy.

    The inexperience leader who must rally her people.

    The old and experienced Sheriff…sorry Lawkeeper.

    In fact in one scene with Nolan and Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) Mayor of Defiance ,set before the final climatic battle, you could easy replace them for Princess Leia and Han Solo just before the attack on the Death Star.

    All this may sound like I hated the show but I didn’t. I can be forgiving of cliches if the characters are solid or at least entertaining and the show’s two main characters Nolan and Irisa were very entertaining to watch. Nolan is both a bad ass and a likeable character, who you want to root for. There are times feels like the writers have tried to merge a mixture of Mal Reynolds and Han Solo to create Nolan. The problem is when this is forced too much through the dialogue the effect can be jarring with some of the one liners missing their mark. However it’s the moments where Nolan is allowed to come into his own that outweighes his cliche beginnings. There’s a small scene in which a particular relationship is revealed to Nolan. The look on his face as he works out all the possibilities is hilarious. The same can also be said for Irisa who also gets a few of her own golden moments. One of these moments is shared by the town’s deputy who hits back with a brilliant put down line. Also I have to give a mention of the alien Doctor who also got a few nice lines in. Primarily though it is Nolan and Irisa and their interactions with each other and the other townsfolk of Defiance that saved this first episode for me. I hope that in future episodes I will find more to like about the other characters.

    Bear Mcceary provides the musical score as always excels himself and as someone who is a huge fan of his music I would keep watching just to hear what he’s got in store for the rest of the series.

    There’s a very nice climatic battle at the end of the pilot although it would have been nice to get a little more background on the enemy as it felt a little rushed. I’m guessed the reason for this is the connection to the overall mystery that we are left with by the end of the pilot episode. It is intriguing (along with a nice twist) and I’ll be interested to see just how that story arc unfolds.

    The effects are solid and with the opening scene and final battle being among my favourites. Also mention must be given to some of the make up on with different aliens races…one of the potential strengths of the show is getting to know the these different races and how they interact.

    There’s a lot of world building going on in this episode but there’s till a lot of unanswered questions about this new earth and its inhabitants that will hopefully be revealed over the course of this first season. It’s a wise move not to give you all the answers in one episode as it could have felt like one massive information dump.
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  14. Apr 29, 2013
    10
    The pilot had me hooked, the second episode not so much. But it has a lot of potential so heres to my hope it will end up good. Previews for more episodes do make it look like the conflicts from the game will be brought to life in an amazing way, I can tell it has a deep universe I just hope they can dish it out.
  15. Apr 16, 2013
    10
    We may just have a winner here. I see tons of potential in this show. I wasn't "blown away" by the pilot, but I was very entertained and curious to see more after it ended. I'm rating this a 10 to counter the inevitable trolls that will come here and give it a 0 because it's a SyFY show.
  16. Apr 23, 2013
    5
    It has a few good parts, but it is overall slightly boring. It doesn't have the thrills achieved by "The Walking Dead", or the mystery achieved by "Revolution", it just has a few good shooting scenes. It's disappointing, but you should still watch it, at least the pilot.
  17. Apr 20, 2013
    4
    I came to this show with an open mind and was actually hoping it might sate my hunger for a new sci-fi show. In short ...it doesn't. The main character, Nolan, is just another cliched, "tough as nails", wise cracking, out for himself (but not really), instantly forgettable sci-fi hero. Most of the alien races are extremely uninspired creations, who appear to have identical motivations/ethos/syntax to humans. The effects fluctuate between passable and terrible, the plot thus far seems paper thin and any moments of drama are lessened by the fact that it is difficult to feel anything for the one dimensional characters. The contrived mashing of genres (Western/post-apocalypse survivalism/low tech futurism) simply does not work and the whole thing feels stitched together. So it seems that Defiance is another lesson in how not to do sci-fi, and another disappointment for this jaded science fiction fan. Expand
  18. Jul 14, 2013
    9
    This is a solid show. I'm not even a sci fi fan. Some of the effects are a little hokey, but the script is pretty good, the characters are good, and it's a little like Game of Thrones where they will just kill off people you thought were going to be major characters all willy-nilly. So I like that unpredictability.

    Out of 12 episodes, I thought 2 were a little weak and the rest were great.
  19. May 6, 2013
    2
    I remember this show! But when did the aliens grow hair? They used to be bald, with spotted scalps, and didn't this used to be called Alien Nation? And what's with the post-apocalyptic Western lawman cowboys and shamans culture clash meets bratty adopted struggling to assimilate teenager theme? Can we mix and mangle a few more cliches in there? I'm sure the writers missed at least one or two. Okay, Defiance is honestly not terrible, but it's honestly not terribly good, either. Better than Revolution but nothing memorable. This is probably because in spite of a colorful splatter of gore and an amusing scene involving the safe word calamari (don't ask), Defiance is about as edgy as a plastic spoon. Expand
  20. May 20, 2013
    8
    This is a very well cast series and had me sold when the two main characters did the Johnny Cash duet. Its part Star Trek, part Wild, Wild West and thoroughly enjoyable. The acting is decent, effects are decent and the writing is good.
  21. Apr 18, 2013
    8
    It's amazing all the bad reviews I'm reading for this pilot 2-hour episode, because I did not get the same result from it at all.

    1) It is far more believable than all the other cliched shows we've been subject to over the past few years. Getting into a fight with aliens due to xenophobes on either side is believable. The alien ships blowing up but activating their terraforming 'arks'
    which ravage the land I can accept. Supposedly not having electricity, yet have a working computer miraculously in the house connected to an operational computer network is not.

    2) I play the MMO, and the mission introducing the main two characters is not only fun, but it gives you an added perspective of them for the show. Don't diss the MMO ratings being bad and not trying it to understand more of the world. It's an innovative way in this age to learn backgrounds.

    3) People are complaining about the various tropes. But, look who is involved in creating this show. They created those tropes you are complaining about. Alien Nation, V, Farscape, etc. were all written by, created by, or produced by those involved. It's understandable how these are integrated into the show.

    4) Yes, a lot of Firefly is seen behind this show as well. A lot of people see this as a bad thing, but I'm not one of them. It's obvious the 'backwater' yet advanced planet theme is popular. One thing I can see happening is guest appearances by some of those actors involved in Firefly, or the shows I previously mentioned.

    5) Do you remember Encounter at Farpoint? The Cage? Emissary? Those pilots, when you look back, were not all that good. Costuming was not perfected. Characters were not refined. How long have those three shows lasted? We still have Star Trek the Next Generation, Star Trek the Original Series, and Deep Space 9 in syndication. Though the original only lasted 3 years in actuality, TNG and DS9 each lasted 7 years. The pilots, though bad, did not break them by any means. Go back and watch An Unearthly Child or Edge of Destruction. How long has that series survived, even with 11 different individuals playing the main title role during the series (and more in one shots and movies)?

    Defiance is a show that will grow. It is a show that has better potential than some of the things I've seen renewed out there, and even critically acclaimed. I plan to watch, and I plan to play the game as well.
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  22. Apr 23, 2013
    9
    Complex characters and an intriguing plot combine to deliver and engaging, and entertaining experience. Rife with sci fi themes and pulls any fan of sci fantasy right in with its strong post apocalyptic influence. The show's principle character, Josh Nolan, brings that cool and demeanor and presents a persona akin to such iconic favorites as Han Solo.
  23. Apr 16, 2013
    9
    My son and I had the DVR set and had been looking forward to this premier for weeks. I was disappointed to see the initial low scores on Metacritic. Tonight, my wife, son, and I got cozy on the couch with high hopes and low expectations. Our eyes were glued to the TV for the next two hours. We loved it! I don't understand the complaints about it being boring. I didn't experience that at all. Sure it was a bit cheesy and predictable at times, but overall, it was a really satisfying sci-fi drama. We all agreed it was much better than the very disappointing Revolution. We can't wait for the next episode! Expand
  24. May 15, 2013
    1
    The show is terrible and the language is embarrassing to hear them use. They say words like "SHTAKO" and to also hear the humans say it, well its just embarrassing. The aliens look
    bad effects also bad and acting horrible. I would recommend not watching this show cant believe it
    got a offer for season 2 already.wow
  25. Jun 1, 2013
    9
    My opinion on this show has changed.
    After Episode one you will see this shows improvement big time. OF coruse it's got some cheesy scyfy graphics still, but I recommend this show to everyone.
    The acting has improved just from one episode too! Awesome acting by Irisa's actress and Nolans!
  26. Mar 27, 2014
    10
    Great show in my opinion. I love how each actor/actress brings their own unique style to the character(s) they are portraying.
    Seems to me people are getting way to anal these days, if it does not have tom cruise, or an A list'ish actor/actress people tend to dump on the shows, at least from my stand point. Hope we get 5+ seasons. Cant wait for season 2!
  27. Apr 16, 2013
    8
    Wow! Syfy channel has a hit. This show nails it for sci-fi fans like nothing since Battlestar Galactica. The characters are diverse and interesting, always looking out for their own interests. The terraformed Earth is fantastic and reminds me of the Borderlands game. It's a simple enough story. It's Gunsmoke with space ships and lasers. Same as the ill-fated Firefly. The cast is packed full of hotties so it's even enjoyable with the sound off. But then you wouldn't hear Julie Benz's seet voice. I'm looking forward to more of this series and I expect it will keep rocking the house. Good job Universal Cable Productions. Expand
  28. Jun 20, 2013
    8
    I am very surprised by all of the bad reviews. I was really surprised by how good the show was. I honestly liked it better than The Walking Dead. The character development is amazing, great lore, and always keeps me coming back for more.
  29. Apr 19, 2013
    0
    I'm shocked by the production quality of this thing. Visually it's inconsistent, troubled by really, really bad special effects (some indie pc-games from 2005 have better cut-scenes than some of the renderings!). Whenever they have green-screened something it really shows. The character are flat and act without any motivation that is born out of the scene or the overall plot. All the clothing doesn't make sense, everything is much too clean. The characters are flat in the sense that they are cheap mixes of old cliche that don't even get properly introduced or established. Main-Character-Cool-Guy whose name is hard to catch (as are the names of most characters because they are all incredibly unremarkable people) acts irrational most of the time and spews his pseudo-cool one-liners in situations where they really don't belong. The plot is hard to follow. The Aliens, which are an important part of the series, are boring and consist mostly of staple "mostly like humans"-creatures that don't even ACT alien. The action suffers from bad cutting and bad lightning. It's much too fast and hard to see.
    All in all I'm truly shocked how bad this is. I expected science-fiction. It was neither good "science" nor good "fiction" and visually unappalling.
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  30. Apr 24, 2013
    10
    I would call this the sci fi Game of Thrones. In a world where most sci fi shows keep getting canceled im glad to see that they still try to go big even in the fear of failure. Giving it a chance and loving it so far
Metascore
57

Mixed or average reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 17
  2. Negative: 1 out of 17
  1. Reviewed by: Bruce Miller
    May 29, 2013
    60
    Moments in the first episode suggest Defiance could be filled with the kind of minutiae "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" fans love. But its plot is so thin it could float away.
  2. Reviewed by: Jeff Jensen
    May 15, 2013
    83
    The individual alien races aren't all that fresh. Yet I am engaged by the show's lively metaphor for a polyglot culture fractured by tribalism and Otherness, for a world that can easily put aside past pain and present differences to tackle a common threat.
  3. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    Apr 17, 2013
    70
    There's a lot of genre-bending in this one but some real entertainment value, dramatic potential and, hell, if it can be half of what Battlestar Galactica was, that's a winning combination.