Photo Credit: Joe Pugliese/Syfy
No doubt about it: Many a tech geek has dreamed the dream of a cool, sci-fi TV drama that's also a video game. Imagine not just watching Battlestar Galactica, but hanging out on one of the show's Twelve Colonies and, you know, fighting Cylons and stuff.
A TV network (Syfy) and a gaming company (Trion Worlds) have finally collaborated to create a shared, fictional universe that works on TV (as a show) and computer screens (as a game).
Defiance (premiering April 15 at 9 p.m. ET) is a complicated thriller set 33 years in the future, after a fleet of alien ships have crashed to Earth and essentially reformed the landscape. (Ever wondered what St. Louis would look like after aliens invaded? It's got a post-apocalyptic, Old West vibe.) Check out how the show's creative team imagined this new world in the behind-the-scenes clip below.
The characters will appear in both the show and the game, and what happens in the virtual world will impact the TV series, and vice versa. Gamers (on an Xbox 360, Playstation 3 or a personal computer) can create an avatar to fight aliens and solve problems, which will change depending on the latest TV storyline. For example: On one episode, the characters will deal with a pandemic. That week on the game, players will face a similar, plague-eradicating mission. And starting in Season 2, the producers hope that the video gamers will help decide how the TV storyline proceeds.
“I do think there’s a great goal, for down the line, to figure out a major plot point for a season finale or something: Will a certain character live or die?” exec producer Kevin Murphy told The New York Times of the potential for fan-driven storylines on the show. "I’d love to go to that place and figure it out. I just think you can’t start at that place. Because…nobody was aware of the show while we were shooting it. You can’t do that in the first season.”
No matter how technically innovative all this sounds, the project's success will of course depend on one thing: Is it a good story? Producers repeatedly describe Defiance an immigrant tale -- only the immigrants happen to be various breeds of actual aliens living together with humans. How those diverse cultures coexist is examined in the video below.
Amanda (Julie Benz), the mayor of Defiance, is an idealist whose can't-we-all-just-get-along attitude is constantly being tested. To her chagrin, her beloved younger sister Kenya (Mia Kirshner) runs a popular establishment called The Need/Want -- which is part bar, part gambling joint and part brothel. Ironically, this house of ill repute might end up uniting the different races more successfully than Amanda could ever hope to. Or not. Watch a video about the sisters below.
The hunky heart of the show is an outsider named Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler). He's a tough grifter with few friends but a soft spot for his quasi-adopted daughter, Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas), a knife-wielding alien he's raised since he found her as a child. When they stumble upon the mixed-race city of Defiance, "he recognizes something in the town that's been lost in him," says Bowler. Irisa isn't so sure. See how their complicated relationship plays out in the clip below.
And like so many good dramas, there are two, warring families set on mutual destruction. Rafe McCawley (Graham Greene) is a wealthy town leader, but he's got a thorn in his side in Datak Tarr (Tony Curran) -- a sort of alien mob boss. Datak and wife Stahma (Jaime Murray) are ghostly-white and reckless. Naturally, their teen son Alak (Jesse Rath) loves Rafe's daughter Christie (Nicole Munoz). You know, it's that age-old question: What if Romeo were an alien?
If you want to know more about this intriguing new series/game, the producers would no doubt tell you to "meet me in St. Louis." Or, well, what once was St. Louis.