6/20/2014

TV Review: Dominion

One of the great ironies in my life is my affinity for angels. I'm not a religious person yet I'm drawn toward almost anything portraying angels, so much so that my debut novel uses the concept as a central point. So when I heard that the new Syfy show, Dominion, would feature angels prominently, I marked my calendar to check it out.

Dominion is based on the 2010 film Legion, in which the archangel Gabriel leads the army of Heaven against humanity only to be fought back by fellow archangel, Michael. I wondered why Syfy would create a show based on a movie that garnered a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes but then I remembered that this is the network that brought us Sharknado and Alien Apocalypse with Bruce Campbell, so things started to make sense. The thing is, I kind of enjoyed Legion in a "brainless, post-apocalyptic action movie" sort of way so to discover that Dominion follows its storyline was a plus for me.

The thing about Dominion is it's a trope-fest: post-apocalyptic future, forbidden love, "the chosen one". They even managed to work in a co-ed shower scene a la Starship Troopers and Spider-Man's "With great power comes great responsibility". It's like the writers, one of which is the show's creator Vaun Wilmott, just rifled through a book of overused television plots and worked as many of them into the pilot as possible. Despite that, the show seems to work, meshing all of these different concepts well enough to create an entertaining pilot.

So far, Dominion's weak point seems to be its casting. Christopher Egan plays Alex, one of the show's main characters. Though he's got a few roles under his belt, Egan isn't really a big name actor and doesn't bring a lot of gravitas to the role. He plays the part of a rebellious soldier fed up with his life until a great responsibility falls into his lap. His emotional range falls between angry and sulking. The lowest point, however, is the role of Michael. Played by Paul Bettany in Legion, Dominion's Michael is represented by emo poster-boy Tom Wisdom. Intentionally flat and emotionless, Wisdom is hardly believable as a tough as nails, battle-hardened archangel. Though he pulled off his well-choreographed action scene well enough, Wisdom just doesn't exude the right aura for Michael.

But that's not to say the casting is all bad. Dominion did manage to bring on a couple of acting veterans in the form of Alan Dale and Anthony Head. The two represent the warring political factions that make up the show's subplot and bring a bit of authority to the series. Though Dale was underused in the pilot episode, I do hope that he manages to get a bit of additional screentime going forward. Head, on the other hand, takes center stage as the show seems to really make him the focus. And as expected, Head nails the role of devious politician, even going so far as to suppress his trademarked British accent. (Can you trademark an accent? You should be able to...)

One benefit Dominion has going for it is that it is a spin-off of an established property. This gives it the ability to forego delving into past events and answering questions of "What happened?" as so many other shows are fond of doing and instead focus on what's going to happen. Dominion even has a companion website, www.enterdominion.com, that supports this theory, where fans of the show can read up on the war against angels and humans and learn more about what happened, as well as learning about the different characters and locations. It also manages to give the show a rich history and continuity without having to bog it down with filler week after week.  It's because of this angle, and the pretty strong pilot episode, that I'm willing to give Dominion a chance and at the very least add it to my DVR library.

2 comments:

  1. It was also the plot of The Prophecy with Christopher Walken and Eric Scholtz. Great post :)

    ReplyDelete

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