Archive Exclusive: Details On Syfy’s New Series Defiance – TVWise

Exclusive: Last June, Syfy and Trion Games announced Defiance, a joint MMO video game and TV series. At the time little was released about the proposed TV tie-in other than the fact that it was being penned by Rockne S. O’Bannon (Farscape) and being produced by Universal Cable Productions. This was not the first time Syfy had teamed up with a video games studio to create a TV tie-in, they did something similar with THQ last year for Red Faction. When Defiance was initially announced, it was unclear whether this was a pilot or a full on series, however, more details were released a few weeks ago when Syfy announced that Grant Bowler had been cast as Jeb Nolan in the series.
Syfy’s press release announcing the casting stated: “Set in the near future, Defiance introduces a world where humans and aliens must learn to live together on an exotic new Earth that has been transformed by alien terra-forming machines. Bowler plays Jeb Nolan, the law keeper in a bustling frontier boomtown that is one of the new world’s few oasis of civility and inclusion. Nolan is a former Marine who fought in the alien conflict and suffered the loss of his wife and child in the war. The trauma transformed him into a lone wanderer in the wilds of this new and dangerous world, bringing him to the town where his peacekeeping skills make him a valuable addition this new community. The dramatic tapestry of the series and the intense action of the game will exist in a single universe, evolving together over time to tell an overall story that is more powerful together.”
Since then, TVWise has been working hard to dig up more information on the series: what it’s about, when and where it’s set, main characters, number of episodes ordered, when the series may launch and more. I can now reveal that Defiance has been given a thirteen episode order and I’m being told that production is due to start within the next few months (probably April) in Toronto, Canada. Writers Tim Walsh and Craig Gore have also signed up to the project along with director Scott Stewart. I’ve also been told that no firm launch date has been set for the series, but Syfy is looking at either late 2012 or summer 2013.
As for the series itself, it has been described as a political-action drama and I have been told that it will be heavily serialised and may feature some CGI/VFX scenes from the video game. The scope of the series was described by a source at Syfy as being “epic” and requiring a Battlestar Galactica level of CGI. I’m also told that the series’ writers (Rockne S. O’Bannon, Craig Gore and Tim Walsh) have enough material at this stage for at least two seasons and that Mark Stern, President of Original Content for Syfy, is very hot on the project and has been guiding the series through development.
Defiance opens up with a flashback scene, set in the present day, which is narrated by main character Jeb Nolan. Through the on-screen scenes and narration the audience will learn exactly what happened to Earth. In the present (presumably 2012 or 2013), alien ships enter Earth’s atmosphere, these aliens (who prefer to be called Votans rather than aliens) are fleeing their own solar system which has been destroyed and they have come to earth seeking a new home. Shortly after their arrival, negotiations begin between the aliens and the government(s) of Earth. After six years of negotiation, no agreement has been reached and a war begins between the two sides. By this time, Jeb Nolan (now sixteen years old) has enlisted in the military to fight for his people against these invading aliens.
In an air battle, which was described to me as being epic in scale, the huge alien ships in the atmosphere are destroyed and they plummet down to Earth. However, contained within the wreckage of these vessels are terraformers which begin to transform the planet. This transformation was described as scorching the earth, creating vast chasm’s in the ground, and resulting in layers upon layers of debris and dirt forming on the surface of the planet; effectively burying major cities. It is then revealed that there is not one alien species but many, with Votan merely being the collective name they have chosen. One such species, the “Castithans”, will apparently be alien but look entirely human.
As the war continues both sides come to realise that neither can win and they have only one joint priority: survival. With this realisation, the war comes to an end and both sides focus on licking their wounds and attempting to rebuild. Which brings us to the time when the series will be set (I’m told this may be 30-50 years in the future). Jeb Nolan returns to his hometown of St Louis, to find it no longer looks like the city he left nor is it called that anymore. St Louis is now Defiance. I have been told that Defiance is a kind of refugee camp; the one refuge for civilisation in this new world where everything has changed. Realising that his expertise from the military are needed in Defiance, Jeb Nolan takes the role of the “Chief Lawkeeper”, making him responsible for keeping the residents of Defiance safe from the scavengers, dangerous Votans and other criminals that will occasionally breeze through the town.
TVWise has also been able to scare up some details on a number of characters:
Jeb Nolan
Much of this role is already known, given that Grant Bowler has already been cast. A former Marine who lost his family in the war, Nolan is the self appointed lawman of Defiance. He was 10 years old when the Votans first arrived. Upon returning to St Louis after the war to find Defiance, he becomes the local lawman of the town as he feels it is his town and he has a duty to protect it.
Amanda Rosewater
The Mayor of Defiance, the character has been described as being in her 40’s, Human and very sexy. A source likened her to the character of President Roslin from Battlestar Galactica
Datak Tarr
The right hand to Amanda, Datak’s role could be likened to that of White House Chief of Staff. He is married to Stahma
Stahma Tarr
Datak’s faithful wife, this role was described as being very Lady Macbeth. Stahma is not satisfied with Datak’s station in Defiance and feels he (and by extension, She) should have more power. She comes from old money and is very cunning and arrogant, with a sense of entitlement.
A member of an alien race known as “Irathients”, she is essentially the deputy to lead character Jeb Nolan. I was also told that her and Nolan have something of a dark history that will be explored more deeply as the series develops.