Defiance: Season One (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373692

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

Studio and Year: Universal - 2013
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 558 minutes
Genre: Sci-fi/Action

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: VC-1
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH
Starring: Grant Bowler, Julie Benz, Stephanie Leonidas, Tony Curran, Jaime Murray, Graham Greene, Mia Kirshner
Directed by: Various
Music by: Bear McCreary
Written by: Various
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 15, 2013

"New Earth. New rules"

Film Synopsis:

Defiance: Season One takes place in the future on a radically transformed Earth containing new species arriving from space. In the show, Joshua Nolan works as the lawman for the town of Defiance, a community where humans and intelligent extraterrestrial species coexist. The show follows Nolan, his adopted alien daughter Irisa and the town's new mayor Amanda Rosewater.

My Take:

In the year 2046, it’s a new Earth – with new rules. Over thirty years after various alien races arrived on Earth, the landscape is completely altered, terraformed nearly beyond recognition. To the town of Defiance, on what used to be St. Louis, comes the mysterious Nolan (Grant Bowler) and his charge, Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas). As they settle into town – overseen by the mayor, Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) and filled with residents like the powerful Rafe McCawley (Graham Greene), enterprising lounge owner Kenya (Mia Kirshner) and the ambitious, alien Tarrs (Tony Curran and Jaime Murray) - events begin to unfold that threaten the fragile peace this border town has fought for.

Defiance is the first ever convergence of television and a multi-platform video game. As the events of Defiance unfold weekly on your TV screen, you can see how the residents’ struggles impact the game of Defiance, a high-octane, experience from Trion Worlds. For the first time in history, a TV show and a game will exist concurrently in a shared universe, influencing and impacting the other.

Going into this review I hadn’t previously seen the show but after reading the press release became interested in it. Season one begins with a pilot which sets up the show’s primary elements and characters nicely and segues into the first plot thread involving Nolan and Irisa recovering a powerful remnant from an Arkfall impact site followed by their entry into the town of Defiance, (built on the ruins of St. Louis, Missouri), populated by Human and Votan survivors of the wars. Nolan is ex-military and after the death of the town’s lawkeeper is asked to help track down a murderer. The killer is found, but not before the town's shield generator is destroyed, rendering town vulnerable to attack by the alien Volge. Nolan and Irisa use the aforementioned power source to destroy the Volge attacking force and are asked to remain in Defiance as the new lawkeeper and his deputy.

This sets up the show’s continuing storyline which revolves around a series of recurring characters in the boomtown’s melting pot. Over the course of the season various themes including social, familial, political and criminal elements within the show’s futuristic/sci-fi context are explored. The integration of drama and action is balanced well as are the interpersonal relationships that support the continuing subplots. Initially I had a lukewarm reaction to the plot and characters finding them to be somewhat corny/elementary but it wasn’t long before began to care about them. At times the show is reminiscent of a sci-fi soap opera but there is ample room for the primary and secondary plots to breath, so that it doesn’t stagnate. I found myself looking forward to each installment and appreciated the fact that I could move from one to the next without waiting a week.

As a sci-fi TV serial Defiance falls into the middle of the pack within its genre which isn’t a bad thing especially if you enjoy its type of programming. The idea of running the TV show concurrent with the video game is pretty cool. In that light it is something special and for gamers may be of further interest. Here is a little information on the game:

In the game of Defiance, players take on the role of Ark Hunters, specialists in survival, combat and tracking who brave dangerous frontiers to retrieve lost relics of advanced or alien origin in return for great financial rewards (The Arks are the ships that brought the aliens to Earth). Players can search for Arks on their own, simultaneously join tens of thousands of other players for missions or just explore the fully realized, future world of Defiance (it's really, really big). Custom character creation allows players to adopt a human or alien appearance for their Ark Hunter. With weapons, armor and special abilities that evolve with experience.

I have added Defiance to my watch list and look forward to checking out season two in June 2014. Here is the season one episode list:

  • Pilot

  • Down in the ground where the dead men go

  • The devil in the dark

  • A well respected man

  • The serpent’s egg

  • Brother’s in arms

  • Goodbye blue sky

  • I just wasn’t made for these times

  • If I ever leave this world alive

  • The bride wore black

  • Past is prologue

  • Everything is broken

Parental Guide:

The show contains violence, mature themes, sensuality and language.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 86

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

Video: 88

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

Defiance Season One comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 31 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.6 Mbps.

By choice I would say that Defiance isn’t bright or overly colorful. The chromatic palette consists mainly of cooler tones and muted secondary hues with the occasional interjection of primary colors that don’t offer much in the way of visual stimulation. This makes for a rougher visual style that works quite well with the show’s thematic tone. Resolution is excellent but the nature of the photography isn’t always lent to the high gloss definition that provides an infinite sense of depth. There are many instances where detail is clearly resolvable with discerning visual perspective and rich clarity. On the other hand there are times where delineation and sharpness is less tangibly defining. Close ups tend to be outstanding and offer plenty of appreciable refinement in the physical features and weave of the fabric in the clothing worn by the cast. Contrast is stable over the course of the presentation and blacks, while not inky, have good dynamic range and are gradationally satisfying. I didn’t note any overt signs of video related anomalies and thought that this presentation as a whole was excellent.

The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio sound like the video quality is quite good. Dynamics are robust and defining without being strident or edgy. Dialogue is rendered with appreciable tonal expression and excellent room penetration through the center channel speaker. The front soundstage is diffused with notable separation and articulated detail. The presentation makes ample use of the surround platform. At times it opens up quite nicely to create an involving listening environment that contains a mix of directional and ambient sounds. Bass response doesn’t reach subterranean levels however it appropriately supports the source elements and provides a tight, punchy low end.

Bonus Features:

  • (HD) Deleted scenes

  • (HD) Gag reel – 3 minutes

  • (HD) Defiance: A transmedia revolution – Bring the worlds of TV and gaming together (7 minute featurette)

  • (HD) Making Defiance – 11 minute featurette

  • (HD) Behind the scenes with Jesse Rath – 7 minute featurette

  • Ultraviolet Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Defiance: Season One is a fairly entertaining sci-fi TV series that brings nothing new to the thematic table but offers enough substance to keep genre fans checked in. What makes Defiance a bit more interesting is that it is the first convergence of television and a multi-platform video game. As the events of Defiance unfold weekly on your TV screen, you can see how the residents’ struggles impact the game of Defiance, a high-octane, experience from Trion Worlds. For the first time in history, a TV show and a game will exist concurrently in a shared universe, influencing and impacting the other. This is a concept that may draw gamers in and certainly looks like a fun way to integrate and expand both experiences.

Defiance: season one makes its debut on Blu-ray from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring excellent audio/video quality and a middling supplemental offering containing a look behind the scenes, a brief concept piece on the game/TV integration, a gag reel and deleted scenes. I enjoyed the show and look forward to checking out season two in June 2014.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

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