I don't know if I'm a geek for liking "Defiance" (9 tonight, Syfy) or if I'm not enough of one to properly judge it. But I was entertained, and in the end, that's the point.
"Defiance" is the name of the city we call St. Louis. It's the town former Marine and wanderer Nolan (Grant Bowler) stumbles upon after he and his adopted daughter Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas) escape some thieving biker aliens.
OK, let's explain the alien thing. Apparently, in the near future, seven alien races come to Earth, sparking 30 years of war. Inexplicably, all the humans weren't wiped out. The post-war Earth, now forever altered, features aliens and humans trying to build new civilizations and peacefully co-exist. It doesn't always go well.
Nolan, a hero in one of the great battles, has adopted Irisa, an Irathient, and they go along making money however they can, unless Nolan blows it on women or in some reckless way. When they get to Defiance, they're broke, so they've got to stay around awhile.
That puts them in the orbit of Amanda (Julie Benz), the new mayor of the mining town; Datak (Tony Curran), an alien mob boss and his manipulative wife Stahma (Jaime Murray); Rafe (Graham Greene), Datak's archenemy and the owner of the town's largest mine; and Kenya (Mia Kirshner), the town's madam.
"Mining town" and "madam" should give you a clue that "Defiance" is essentially a Western and that's not the only classic the show borrows from. Shakespeare gets some love in a few ways; for one, Rafe's daughter and Datak's son are secretly involved.
No, "Defiance" isn't original in terms of plot or character. Certainly, the conceit of aliens and humans trying to co-exist has been done before. The originality is supposed to come from the fact that it's both a TV show and an online game that are interconnected. What happens on the TV show causes a shift in the game. Of course, I won't be playing the game (and neither will most of you reading, I suspect) so that doesn't have anything to do with me.
What does matter is that the pilot of "Defiance" was fun; there's action, humor, story lines with potential. Bowler is a fine anti-hero, Curran and Murray, intriguing villains, and Benz works as the town's the heart and good soul.
Unlike it's plot, "Defiance" may not be building a whole new sci-fi world, but it does a good job refreshing some old themes.