Defiance pilot episode review – "one of the worst TV shows I have ever seen"

As a fan of the Defiance MMO I sat down with eager anticipation to watch the first episode of the TV show wondering if it was going to be worthy of being linked to its videogame counterpart.

The Defiance TV show has a lot to live up to, it’s not supposed to be just another sci-fi drama but also links in to the MMO of the same name, which means a lot more people are paying attention to it than there might be if it was just the launch of a new TV series. As the program started I found myself wondering if an MMO and a TV show could be successfully melded together in a way that would win a following of fans of both mediums. Whether it would be a piece of classic TV in the making or just another program destined for late night repeats?


The show didn’t start well with what must be the cheapest on-screen invasion of Earth I have ever seen; and I’m a fan of Doctor Who so I’ve seen some very cheap invasions. But all pilots need to do some scene setting so I put my initial concerns about the low-budget look aside and watched on.

As the credits rolled at the end I sat back, tried to piece together what I had just seen and came to the conclusion that I had just watched one of the worst TV shows I have ever seen in my life. You might think that is a very harsh statement, but let me tell you why the show is just so bad that it makes the terrible Space Precinct look like an award-winning drama.

Defiance is like a cross between Mad Max 2 and Babylon 5 but with none of the points that made that film and show great. We are told Earth has been terraformed and the planet has changed beyond recognition but, due to what must be budgetary constraints, we only get to see a lot of forests and interiors that look like our planet is continuing as if nothing had happened. Defiance tries its best to give the impression that Earth is now something we would be hard pressed to understand but it fails in numerous ways. Not only are the locations cheap but they are populated with some of the most wooden clichés ever seen in a TV show. These clichés include, in the first half an hour alone: worthy leaders, alien Romeos and human Juliets, roguish heroes who have a heart of gold underneath and evil alien thugs with poorly made up gorilla-like henchmen.

And that is one of the other main problems of Defiance. The effects and make up just look so bad. OK, so it’s a show and special effects have limits, but if all your aliens look plastic or appear to be people in masks then I just can’t suspend my disbelief and focus on the plot.

Now any show that looks bad can be saved by innovative plotting and tight scenes of both action and emotion; Defiance has none of these. As I’m trying to keep this review as spoiler free as possible I won’t go into too much detail on the plot, but what takes place is turgid and limps along with too much talking and little action. Consequently, I couldn’t help but feel the episode would have been better with a good deal of editing. Defiance suffers doubly with excessive bouts of talking because the performances of the entire cast are so wooden and long scenes of exposition drive only the viewer’s desire to hit fast forward rather than draw you in to the plot.

In this day and age, when modern drama continues to innovate and surprise, Defiance is a show that does neither and left me totally uncaring about the world it has created. A world I might add that is better served online in the game. Suffice to say, Defiance is not a show I will be returning to, and I only hope that the videogame doesn’t suffer by being associated with this mediocre bum numbing TV show.

Do you play Defiance? If so do you think the TV show will help or harm the game?

Stay tuned for our full review of Defiance the videogame.