SyFy's 'Defiance' Is a Game-Changer … Literally

Yahoo! TV
Defiance - Season 1: Grant Bowler and Julie Benz
Grant Bowler as Joshua Nolan and Julie Benz as Amanda Rosewater in Syfy's "Defiance."

When "Defiance" premieres Monday on Syfy, it will mark a next-step shift in the evolution of watching television. The science fiction property exists as a television show, a video game, and, when paired together, a fully immersive, two-screen experience.

The show takes place in the near future in St. Louis, where a number of different alien species and humans have taken residence. Needless to say, they're at odds with each other and still trying to make a peaceful home in the Midwestern city. Grant Bowler ("Lost," "Ugly Betty," "Liz & Dick"), Julie Benz ("Dexter," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), and Mia Kirshner ("The L Word") star in this massive undertaking five years in the making.

But, as we learned at SyFy's upfront presentation at Chelsea Piers in New York City Wednesday night, none of them are daunted by the scale.

"You can't put anything together and create 'Defiance,'" Bowler told Yahoo! TV. "The relationships are enormous in scope. You have the Capulets and the Montagues. You have 'Romeo and Juliet.' You have 'Othello. ' And you have Lady Macbeth. This is the biggest gift of a role I've ever been given because it's such an enormous canvas to be able to doodle like a child on and I love that."

The fact that his character has to understand six (yes, six!) fictional languages doesn't scare Bowler either … yet.

"Nobody can ever tell if you're doing it right or not," he admitted. "The only thing that pulls me up is that I know by the third season, our audience will know it better than us and they'll go back and watch the first season and go, 'You got all those lines wrong.' It's the bloggers that keep me honest."

As for how they're going to make a show like this work and still appeal to the television audience as well as the gaming community, executive producer Kevin Murphy gave us a little insight.

"We want to make sure that if you're looking at a Venn of TV show watchers and gamers, the crossover people are then our super fans," he explained. "We want to service them while, at the same time, not alienating the TV viewers or the gamers. The way that we do that is that we make sure that the crossover elements are additive. If you're watching Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas) and Nolan (Bowler) take out a gem that you helped them recover in the video game, you may have an emotional connection to that moment as a gamer that will go over the head of the TV watchers."

For Benz, it's not the game integration in the show that gives her trouble -- it's the game itself.

"For me, the challenging part is just playing the game," she confessed. "I can't figure it out."

Watch the first 14 minutes of the pilot for "Defiance":

"Defiance" airs Mondays at 9 PM on Syfy.