TV review

'Dominion' entertains despite premise, plot


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While the premise and plot of Syfy's "Dominion" (9 tonight) are laughable, the 90-minute pilot entertains in a B-movie sort of way.

Granted, this series, based on the 2010 movie "Legion," is fairly predictable and cribs from other pop culture outlets -- there's a hint of "Hunger Games" in one arena battle scene -- but the show's cast of acting veterans manage to sell the silliness, except perhaps when the angel characters have giant wings that erupt from their backs.

‘Dominion’
When: 9 tonight, Syfy.

An on-screen scroll tells viewers "Dominion" is set 25 years after extinction (25 AE) when "God disappeared," a nicer way of saying God got annoyed with humankind and sent his angels to bring about an apocalypse, the premise of "Legion."

The TV show pins the fall not on God but on the archangel Gabriel (Carl Beukes, "Wild at Heart"), who started the fight. Archangel Michael (Tom Wisdom, "300") sides with humankind and helps beat back Gabriel's advances to a sort of stalemate, which is where the TV show begins.

Humans are living in fortified cities, including Vega, which is abandoned Las Vegas. Soldiers have taken over the New York New York casino as their base of operations while Michael swans around the top of the Stratosphere tower where he also appears to host orgies (like ya do).

The TV show picks up the film's thread about a "chosen one" who will lead humankind out of darkness and war. By the end of the pilot, the show has anointed the chosen one, although observant viewers will pick up on it much sooner, possibly even in the first scene, when soldier Alex Lannon (Christopher Egan, "Kings," "Eragon") does battle with some demony-looking, black-eyed angels who turn out to be "eight-balls," the lowest form of angels, who possess human hosts, driving out their souls.

Lannon is in love with Claire Riesen (Roxanne McKee), daughter of practical-minded General Riesen (Alan Dale of "Ugly Betty," "Lost" and tons of other shows, not playing the baddie for once).

Claire is part of some sort of religious order and finds herself ceremonially engaged to William Whele (Luke Allen-Gale), the son of Senator David Whele (Anthony Stewart Head, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), who seems to rule Vega with an iron fist. The senator is prone to bad choices, which include bringing an eight-ball into the city for display purposes, leading to a riot and deaths. Oops!

Writer Vaun Wilmott ("Sons of Anarchy") wisely creates an entirely new backdrop for the TV show, building out the Vega society that's developed in the 25 years since the events in "Legion." This layering is necessary so the TV series has something to explore beyond winged angels fighting. The pilot doesn't go into much depth on the Vega culture, but it's clear that there's plenty to chew on, including religion, politics and a caste system.

"Dominion" will never be confused with sophisticated TV, but in its pilot, the only episode made available for review, it's a more entertaining yarn than plenty of other Syfy efforts.


A version of this story first appeared in Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. TV writer Rob Owen: rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582 Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook.

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