This is a huge week for science fiction, with major releases on both the big screen and the small! First up, Defiance premieres tonight on Syfy. If you’ve somehow managed to avoid our near-constant optimistic chatter about the series for the past few months, here’s the skinny: Defiance is set in the future, in the aftermath of a long war between humanity and seven species of aliens who arrived to colonize our world. A fragile peace has been reached, although our world has been scarred and twisted by terraforming tech during the war. Defiance is set in a settlement of the same name, built around the ruins of St. Louis. There a cast of human and aliens do their best to coexist and survive the dangers old and new. Defiance was created by Farscape’s Rocke S. O’Bannon, Caprica‘s Kevin Murphy, and Battlestar Galactica’s Michael Taylor. It’s been a while since Syfy has had a truly exceptional science fiction series on their line-up, so I’m hoping this one can recapture some of the Farscape/BSG magic.
This week also sees the U.S. premiere of Joseph Kosinsiki’s Oblivion. It’s Kosinski’s follow-up to Tron: Legacy, which was visually stunning but lacking in the narrative and character department. Sadly, the early reviews from overseas suggest that Oblivion may be falling into that same category. If that’s true, it’s a shame. As common as it is to jump on the Tom Cruise hatred bandwagon, I try never to root for a movie to fail, especially not an original science fiction project like Oblivion. Cruise’s history when it comes to science fiction is hit (Minority Report) or miss (War of the Worlds), but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Oblivion is worth the ticket price.
Defiance (Syfy, 9/8c) — “Pilot”
DVR alert! Tonight’s premiere is actually two hours long, so make sure you’re getting the whole thing.
The arrival of the mysterious Nolan and his charge Irisa to the town of Defiance marks a threat to the fragile peace that exists between the residents in the premiere of this futuristic drama, which is set in the year 2046, more than 30 years following a war between humans and aliens that left Earth forever changed.
Revolution (NBC, 10:01/9:01c) — “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”
With last week’s episode finally revealing the truth behind the global blackout, Revolution is continuing its stated goal of broadening its narrative and building up to the conflict its title implies. Tonight 24’s Leslie Hope guest stars as President Foster of the Georgia Federation, and Rachel sets out on a quest to the secret Tower where she could be able to flip the power back on.
Flash Gordon: The Complete Series (DVD)
Defiance will hopefully live up the standard of Syfy’s greatest past series, such as Battlestar Galactica and Farscape. Until it premieres in a few hours, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed and trying not to remember Syfy’s less auspicious outings, such as this one, which hits DVD today.
Repo Man: Criterion Collection (Blu-Ray & DVD)
The trippy cult classic is getting a new release from the esteemed “Criterion Collection” today. The restored version of the film also includes tons of special features, commentary with director Alex Cox, executive producer Michael Nesmith, casting director Victoria Thomas, and actors Sy Richardson, Zander Schloss, and Del Zamora.
Robot Combat League (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Semi-Finals”
Four teams battle in a semifinal showdown.
Doctor Who #8 (IDW Publishing)
David Tennant may have moved on, but the Tenth Doctor’s adventures continue on the printed page.
With the TARDIS breached by invaders and with only moments before both vessels implode, The Doctor and his friends must find a working console and escape the fifth dimension. But what happens when the clock runs out—and everything ends? What happens to a Time Lord when his song finally ends?
Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #4 (IDW Publishing)
This issue of the yearlong series puts the focus on the Fourth Doctor, played on the big screen by Tom Baker.
Nova: Australia’s First 4 Billion Years (PBS, 9/8c) — “Life Explodes”
How did life storm the beaches and dominate planet Earth? Ancient Australian fossils offer clues in ‘Life Explodes.’ Half a billion years ago, Australia was still part of the super-continent Gondwana. The oceans were teeming with weird and wonderful animals, but the world above the waves remained an almost lifeless wasteland. All that was about to change, though. Host Richard Smith introduces Earth’s forgotten pioneers: the scuttling arthropod armies that invaded the shores and the waves of green revolutionaries whose battle for the light pushed plant life across the face of a barren continent. Evolution continued underwater as well, with armor-plated fish experimenting with teeth, jaws, sex, and lungs. NOVA’s prehistoric adventure continues with four-legged animals walking onto dry land—and the planet poised for disaster.
Forecasting the End (Weather Channel, 9/8c) — “Tsunami”
Because I guess the Weather Channel got tired of just telling you what the weather was like outside, this new series focusing on the myriad ways weather could kill you horribly.
Da Vinci’s Demons (Starz, 9/8c) — “The Serpent”
I still haven’t had time to sit down and watch last week’s premiere yet, but I’m hoping my initial impressions it being Assassin’s Creed: The Series prove to be true. “Leonardo’s quest for the Book of Leaves continues; the pope’s nephew meets a spy upon his arrival; and Leonardo’s war designs do not measure up for the Medicis, causing a rift between the inventor and the rulers.”
Hemlock Grove (Netflix)
This one isn’t remotely science fiction, but still is worth genre fans’ attention. Another new original series from Netflix, this one is a horror/thriller show from director Eli Roth. It’s based on Brian McGreevy’s 2012 novel. As with House of Cards, the entire first season will premiere at the same time, all the better to marathon it.
Oblivion (In theaters)
Tom Cruise stars as a drone repairman working on an abandoned Earth in the aftermath of a brutal war between mankind and invading aliens. When he rescues a woman from a crash, everything he takes for granted about the war and his reality comes into question. Early reviews are not great, but I’m still going to go in hoping for the best.
Doctor Who (BBC America, 8/7c) — “Hide”
The Doctor and Clara’s adventures take a turn for the spooky as they visit a supposedly haunted mansion. They soon meet a ghost hunter and a psychic both hunting for an entity known as the “Witch of the Well.” Tonight’s episode was penned by Luther creator Neil Cross, who also wrote the recent “Rings of Akhaten.”
The Nerdist (BBC America, 10/9c)
Host Christ Hardwick sits down with The Lord of the Rings’ Elijah Wood, House of Lies’ Ben Schwartz, comedian Kumail Nanjiani, and Katie Crown.
Orphan Black (BBC America, 9/8c) — “Effects of External Conditions”
Sarah realizes that the Orphans’ survival is going to take more than police work. But tracking the killer threatens Sarah’s long awaited reunion with her daughter, Kira. As Sarah gets closer to the killer, the killer gets closer to the truth – the ensuing showdown threatens to expose her ruse as a cop.