'Dominion': TV Review


Thursday, June 19
9 p.m. on Syfy

Based on 2010 feature film Legion, the supernatural action-drama starring Chris Egan takes place 25 years in the future after a war between an army of angels and mankind.

The world is blowed up. Yes, blowed up with an "ed" not an "n." Because only people who say it like that will like this dumb piece of schlock. God is dead. And it's angels fighting each other because nothing says "exciting" like angels with wings slapping at each other and flying real fast, right? The acting here is terrible with a capital terrible. And the writing is unspeakable. If you're worried about the plot, you're not paying attention to the warning signs.

Do not be tempted to watch this bomb and make a drinking game out of it. The whole planet could be wiped out. Or drunk. Speaking of drunk — who thought "Dominion" was a good idea?

Syfy's latest drama, Dominion, may be one of the dumbest, worst-acted, most poorly written series I've seen in ages. In no way should this encourage you to tune in hoping to rubberneck this bit of awfulness in hopes of creating some kind of new drinking game.

Life's too short. And you will choke on your own vomit and die alone. Don't be a hero.

One of my actual notes from watching the pilot, verbatim: "This is unbearable."

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You can file this among those anomalies where you wonder if the actors knew how bad it really was while it was happening. Like being in quicksand, having lost their voices. All they could do was look at each other with searching eyes that perhaps said, "Does what I'm saying and how I'm acting seem as terrible to you as it does to me in this very instant that it's happening? God help us."

It would be generous to say that Syfy's track record with dramas of late has been "spotty." This channel consistently settles for mediocrity and, in this instance, its far sadder cousin. Of the many, many things someone at the network needed to broach — and then squash — was why in the world you would hire Anthony Stewart Head and take away his accent. That's not just a bad decision — it's inconceivable in the whole of its asininity.

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You hire Anthony Stewart Head precisely because his British accent makes him both regal and relatable and charming and powerful — the list goes on.

The one thing Head should never be seen or heard doing is speaking with an American accent. It's a giant bowl of wrong and, no offense to Head, must never happen again.

Syfy says that Dominion is "based on characters from the theatrical film Legion (2010)," which is a reminder to never rent that film even by accident. No matter the inspiration, the idea that what the world needs is a film about warring angels is absurd.

Here's how Syfy explains the show, because I can't actually do it without laughing first and throwing up in my mouth second: "Dominion is an epic supernatural drama set in the year 25 A.E. (After Extinction). In this transformed post-apocalyptic future, an army of lower angels, assembled by the archangel Gabriel, has waged a war of possession against mankind. The archangel Michael, turning against his own kind, has chosen to side with humanity against Gabriel."

That said, Michael is kind of a smug prick of an angel. It's not clear why having him on our side is a good thing.

Meanwhile, some cities have survived this 25-year war (we are told that God is dead, but not actually shown how it happened) and reassembled into little havens for humans. The crown jewel of these cities is — and please don't laugh — Vega, which is the reimagined Las Vegas and not that terrible lemon of a car from the 1970s.

What's in Vega? Bad acting, that's what.

Sometimes good acting can overcome bad writing — when you see it happen, please clap politely for the dedicated actors who elevated the art despite the odds. This is not one of those times.

At every turn in Dominion you wonder what the director was doing and also ponder if executives at Syfy are actually paid to watch the shows they create. Were there no notes for this Dominion pilot? Like, "Can you rewrite this so it doesn't sound like an 11-year-old had a class assignment?" Or, " Let's agree to never do this again."

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Where to start with this mess? Do avenging angels or angels of any kind intrigue you as a plot device? And must all angels carry knives only? Is there an angel law that you can't stick a semiautomatic in your belt? Do angels have belts? Because at least one does here. Dominion, in its 90-minute opening volley of impenetrable hokum, is trying to establish too much. Like Gabriel and Michael as archangels who support different sides; of other, lesser angels who are sometimes called, inexplicably, "8-balls" but look like flying vampires; getting anyone to buy Head speaking without a British accent; going for a military and goth vibe; saying "Vega" out loud like it's a good thing; trying to make the show feel part Hunger Games, part love story, part dystopian ideal with bad costumes; angels with wings; angels using their wings to fight. The list seem endless.

Even with Syfy's helpful list of those involved, it's hard to tell who created and wrote this thing and why they should be singled out for scorn. Let's just say three or four people did a very bad thing and leave it at that. I'm reluctant to even list the actors because that can't help, can it? Better to just let Dominion slip off into oblivion and no one will be the wiser, right?

Email: Tim.Goodman@THR.com

Twitter: @BastardMachine