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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Defiance is a sci-fi series that is designed to connect with a violent third-person-shooter video game. The series isn't quite as intense as the game, but both include the use of guns and advanced sci-fi type weapons. In the show we see both human and alien deaths, with blood but little gore. There are scary, menacing aliens, animals, and mutant monsters and characters are frequently in jeopardy. Viewers will also see environmental catastrophes and inter-species racism and romance, and hear some moderate cursing. That said, the series is intelligently written and thought-provoking for teens who can handle it.
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What's the story?
Ambitious sci-fi drama DEFIANCE begins 35 years ago when Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler) was a young boy on a picnic with his parents. They spotted a giant spacecraft looming overhead. That craft was full of Votans, the name for a number of alien species, fleeing their solar system after it was destroyed. Chaos and war followed in the wake of the Votans' arrival, followed by environmental catastrophe, when a number of Votan space ships exploded in the Earth's atmosphere, accidentally releasing the Votan terraforming technology. What was planned to be a slow, careful colonizing quickly mushroomed into a disaster, making many areas of the Earth uninhabitable and beset with dangerous new plant and animal species, forcing humans and Votans to work together to survive. Now, many decades after the Votans first arrived, Nolan becomes a law enforcement agent in his hometown, the former St. Louis now border town Defiance, working with mayor Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) and his adopted alien daughter, Irisa Nyira, to navigate the strange new world in which humans must live.
Is it any good?
Defiance has Battlestar Galactica's DNA all over it. If you liked that smart, subversive, thoughtful series, you will probably also like this one. Defiance's backstory, which involves many alliances and conflicts between various alien races, is immersively twisty and well-thought-out, and there are many directions the drama could go. Plus, the showrunners have cast interesting actors, particularly young Stephanie Leonidas as the mysterious alien former foundling child Irisa, and zesty Fionnula Flanagan as an entirely believable former mayor of Defiance, who acts as a mentor for Julie Benz's Amanda Rosewater.
The special effects and makeup are a little rinky-dink (bad wigs ahoy!) and the hints of generic-Canadian-city backgrounds that seep through the sci-fi stage dressing are a little disconcerting. But if one lets that go, this is catnip for the sci fi fan: smart and otherworldly goings on anchored by fine human emotion.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the show's messages. In what ways did humankind bring on its own destruction in Defiance? Are the makers of the show trying to make points about the way people react to new ideas? What do you think the show is trying to say about humans and the environment?
Can you tell where Defiance was shot? Do you think it was really shot in St. Louis? How can you tell?
How do the special effects and makeup in Defiance rate against those of similarly themed shows or movies? Does the quality of the special effects take away from the story of Defiance?
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