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TV Wasteland: Defiance Rises
Syfy's ambitious new series debuts.
By Rob Vaux
April 15, 2013
I tend a laugh at Syfy a lot – any network that produces titles like Sharktopus deserves some serious ribbing – but in the midst of that, they have produced some well-regarded original series. The likes of Warehouse 13, Being Human and of course BSG leave us willing to cut them a lot of slack when a new scripted show comes along. So it is with Defiance, a new series set thirty years in the future on a transformed planet. A race of extraterrestrials arrive on Earth expecting it to be abandoned, only to be greeted with hostility and suspicion by us touchy locals. Tensions eventually lead to war, which unleashes chaotic terraforming technology across the planet. Now peace finally reigns after many years, with Earth no longer what it was and humans and aliens alike forced to work together in order to survive.
It’s a good hook, especially with similar shows like Falling Skies and Revolution making virgin territory tough to find. But the producers seem to have hit upon their own vibe and the initial promotional material looks strong. The big concern – besides, you know, the show just sucking – is whether Syfy can maintain something on this scale. Television budgets need to stay reined in, or no amount of advertising in the world can maintain a profit. Yet Defiance seems dependent on the kind of epic spectacle we don’t normally see on TV… and which costs a pretty penny if the producers aren’t terrible. It should be glorious if they can pull it off, but there’s not much room for flexibility if ratings aren’t through the roof.
They get their chance to show us what they can do this Monday, April 15, at 9:00 PM EDT on Syfy.
Defiance (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
Syfy premieres a new series about a future Earth rebuilding after a war with extraterrestrials. See the top of the article for more.
Revolution (NBC, 10:00 PM EDT)
Rachel is off to infiltrate the tower, leaving Miles to decide if he likes her more than Nora.
The Following (Fox, 9:00 PM EDT)
The Havenport Police Department enters the picture, bringing a new kind of trouble for Roderick.
Bates Motel (A&E, 10:00 PM EDT)
Norman and Emma pursue a mystery… one that presumably doesn’t involve a mummified body in the basement.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (AMC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Gene Wilder is creepy in all the right ways. Repeats on Wednesday at 10:01 PM EDT.
Groundhog Day (AMC, 10:31 PM EDT)
Bill Murray’s best movie? Yeah you could make that case.
Dark Shadows (Cinemax, 6:20 PM EDT)
This misbegotten Tim Burton vehicle is nobody’s best anything. Repeats Thursday at 10:00 PM EDT.
X-Men: First Class (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EDT)
The X-Men franchise gains some fresh new blood and a rejuvenated sense of purpose. Repeats on Saturday at 6:00 PM EDT.
The A-Team (FX, 8:00 PM EDT)
Nuts to all of you; I like it.
Real Steel (Showtime, 7:20 PM EDT)
Hugh Jackman out-charms a whole passel full of robots to make this an actual decent time. Repeats on Saturday at 6:20 PM EDT.
Kill Bill: Vol 2 (Starz, 10:00 PM EDT)
Luckily, Part I is readily available. Otherwise, you might wonder how it all got started.
The Two Towers (Syfy, 5:00 PM EDT)
Syfy is running this one a lot, but not the other two. Odd, that. Repeats on Thursday at 7:00 PM EDT.
Robot Combat League (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
It’s new. That’s all we know.
Chronicle (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EDT)
They say the sequel’s going to be darker. Um, eep?
Monsters vs. Aliens (FMC, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:00 PM EDT)
FMC brings back one of the more enjoyable Dreamworks joints of the last few years: a Dante-esque riff on 50s monster movies.
Battle: Los Angeles (FX, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:30 PM EDT)
Aaron Eckhart likes to get angry. Alien invasions will do that. Repeats on Sunday at 8:00 PM EDT and 10:30 PM EDT.
Elf (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
And again, I say… it’s not Christmas.
The Amazing Spider-Man (Starz, 10:40 PM EDT)
Can I just say how glad I am to finally see the Lizard on the big screen?
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Sundance, 8:00 PM EDT)
Sundance has been focusing on the original Scandinavian versions of the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. A great way to catch up if you’re interested.
Ghost Hunters (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
Your guess is as good as mine this week, though we’re assured it’s a new episode.
Deep South Paranormal (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
Here’s hoping this show vanishes as quickly as most of Syfy’s other reality shows.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (BBC America, 8:00 PM EDT)
Ladies and gentlemen, Alan Rickman!
Spawn (Cinemax, 6:35 PM EDT)
Creator Todd Macfarlane once claimed that this character would last longer than Batman. Better luck next time, Todd.
Salt (FX, 8:00 PM EDT)
Someone get Angelina Jolie some oxygen!
My Bloody Valentine (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Am I the only one who’s really glad to see Tom Atkins back in the saddle?
Saw III (IFC, 10:15 PM EDT)
AKA The One Where the Series Really Started Sucking.
Arrow and Supernatural are reruns this week.
The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8:00 PM EDT)
Damon and Stefan go to the prom with Elena. Seriously guys: PROM?! Unless it involves Sissy Spacek and a bucket of pig’s blood, that move will officially cost you all horror credentials forever.
Beauty and the Beast (The CW, 9:00 PM EDT)
Evan cops to ratting on Vincent, while Gabe pursues a mole within the department ranks.
The Terminator (Cinemax, 8:15 PM EDT)
Gold star to Cinemax for bringing this classic back in Hi Def.
Zodiac (FMC, 7:00 PM EDT and 10:30 PM EDT)
I’m not sure director David Fincher quite knew where he was going with this one, but man it was fascinating to watch.
Underworld: Awakening (Starz, 8:30 PM EDT)
Beckinsale phones it in and the whole movie goes down the drain.
Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Some Chainsaws, it seems, are better than others.
Silent Hill (IFC, 9:45 PM EDT)
Want to know just how shitty a video game adaptation can get? Feast your eyes on this!
The Haunting in Connecticut (Sundance, 10:00 PM EDT)
These guys must be really grateful that the sequel came along to give us all something different to laugh at.
The Big Bang Theory is a rerun this week. Elementary is off.
Grimm (NBC, 9:00 PM EDT)
Portland gets its very own volcano, which means bad things when it threatens to erupt.
Nikita (The CW, 8:00 PM EDT)
Amanda has Nikita drugged and attempts to twist her mind into funny balloon animal shapes.
Da Vinci’s Demons (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
Leonardo continues his hunt for the Book of Leaves, while the rulers express displeasure over his war machine schematics.
The Crow (BBC America, 9:00 PM EDT)
Brandon Lee’s swan song remains achingly tragic, for reasons both onscreen and off.
X2: X-Men United (FMC, 8:00 PM EDT)
As a life-long Nightcrawler fan, I will never get tired of Alan Cumming’s performance here. Just one of many reasons to dig this movie.
Shrek Forever After (FX, 7:00 PM EDT and 9:30 PM EDT)
The big green ogre (hopefully) bows out with a not-bad entry that reminds us how little the once-vaunted series has left.
Battleship (HBO, 6:45 PM EDT)
And again we ask… who the hell thought this was a good idea?
Paycheck (Showtime, 7:00 PM EDT)
John Woo directs a sci-fi thriller that doesn’t exactly blow our socks off, but still has some good things going for it.
The Mummy (Spike, 8:00 PM EDT)
Brendan Fraser ensures that a good time is had by all. Even with the plague of locusts.
The Dark Knight (TNT, 8:00 PM EDT)
If you have to ask…
Doctor Who (BBC America, 8:00 PM EDT)
The Doctor and Clara spend some time in a haunted house, along with a pair of supernatural investigators searching for the Witch of the Well. As always, Confessions of a Neowhovian
has the skinny!
Freaks (TCM, 8:00 PM EDT)
Run, do not walk, to your DVRs and set it to record this cult classic from Dracula director Tod Browning. He employed real sideshow performers in his tale of love and revenge, creating a singularly creepy motion picture that will never be duplicated.
Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon (Cartoon, 7:00 PM EDT)
Mystery Inc. heads to a comic-book convention in an all-new Scooby-Doo mystery. Um, yay?
Wrath of the Titans (Cinemax, 8:15 PM EDT)
They really didn’t need a sequel. Or, frankly, a remake.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EDT)
Steve Carell and Keira Knightley navigate the last few days before an asteroid hits the Earth, in a strange, funny and quietly bleak little art-house number.
Wrong Turn and Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines (Syfy, 7:00 PM EDT and 9:00 PM EDT)
Presumably, Wrong Turns 2-4 have so few interesting elements that no one will care if we skip over them.
Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Spike, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:30 PM EDT)
The immortal first entry in the Indiana Jones series appears alongside its less-than-immortal follow-up. Raiders needs no further praise: it’s still my favorite movie of all time. Temple of Doom works best as a series of ten-minute vignettes that don’t quite hold together.
Resident Evil: Retribution (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
AKA The One Where They Bring Everybody Back to Collect a Paycheck.
Tangled (ABC Family, 8:00 PM EDT)
The last of the Disney princess movies really knows how to put a smile on your face.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (FMC, 7:00 PM EDT)
Kevin Smith has officially squandered all of his goodwill. I think it started here.
Armageddon (FX, 8:00 PM EDT)
I hate this movie, and my wife hates me for hating it. Take that for what you will.
Men in Black II (TNT, 8:00 PM EDT and 9:45 PM EDT)
The spirit is intact, but too many jokes rehash the first film in an ultimately underwhelming sequel.
Once Upon a Time (ABC, 8:00 PM EDT)
The magic beans sprout, bringing Emma to decision time. Meanwhile, Mr. Gold asks David to give Belle a hand in recovering from amnesia.
Game of Thrones (HBO, 9:00 PM EDT)
The Night’s Watch struggles to regroup while Daenerys finalizes her departure.
Marathon Man (Sundance, 10:00 PM EDT)
Laurence Olivier plays a Nazi war criminal terrifying Dustin Hoffman’s long-distance runner in a superior thriller from 1976. Check it out!
From Dusk till Dawn (Cinemax, 8:10 PM EDT)
Do you think this would have happened if we’d had Yelp back in the 90s?
Peter Pan (Disney, 8:00 PM EDT)
Disney’s classic animated feature is gorgeously rendered but hopelessly dated. “What Makes the Red Man Red”… shudder.
How to Train Your Dragon (FMC, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:00 PM EDT)
It’s a real charmer, there’s no denying.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Spike, 8:00 PM EDT and 11:00 PM EDT)
Spike ends the weekend with the well-regarded third Indy adventure and the torches-and-pitchforks inspiring fourth entry. I tend to like them both, but I’m weird that way.
Men in Black 3 (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
The boys recover from an anemic Part II to get the series back on track. Hopefully, they’ll leave it at that.
The Mummy Returns (Syfy, 8:00 PM EDT)
Let’s just say it’s better than any movie featuring an army of undead pygmies has any right to be.