Dominion Review by John Keegan

Dominion 1.01: Pilot

Dominion 1.01: Pilot

Written By:
Vaun Wilmott
Directed By:
Scott Stewart

Take a fairly interesting subplot from Supernatural, strip away Castiel and the Brothers Winchester, and replace them with the background extras from The Chronicles of Riddick, with the writing of one of the myriad sequels for The Crow, and you might come to a reasonable approximation of Dominion.  It wouldn’t hurt to add a mash of inexplicable exposition to the mix, too.


Syfy has a reputation that is not entirely deserved.  Many mistake the programming choices, such as wrestling and reality-based fare, as taking priority based on network misunderstanding of its intended audience.  On the contrary, Syfy is trying to appease its corporate masters and generate revenue to justify the genre productions that otherwise get mediocre to terrible ratings.  And for a good stretch, Syfy was creating or acquiring genre series that were actually quite good, usually after a bit of a learning curve in the first season.  (Defiance is a perfect example of this.)  Helix was the first outright mess of a flop in quite some time.


Unfortunately, while we all wait for those promises of stronger genre offerings to come to fruition, we may be looking at a string of misfires.  Dominion practically makes Helix look like high art, if this pilot episode is any indication.  Granted, they are trying to take elements from a rather mediocre film and develop them into something sustainable, so the expository hurdle is much harder to manage than usual.  But when I’m left wondering how they managed to convince actors like Anthony Head and Alan Dale to sign on, it’s saying something.


The angelic war is interesting enough, with humanity confined to defensive cities such as Vega, where they band together with protective angels under the banner of Michael to fight Gabriel, his angels, and the humans they possessed.  Yet the drama is largely confined to the politics of humans in the midst of this apocalyptic situation, and it all adheres to various shades of cliché, right down to a “chosen one” who will lead humanity into victory.  It might as well be Terminator with Angels.


And yet, when it works, it’s entertaining.  It’s hard not to enjoy Anthony Head, as David, chewing the hell out of the scenery with an odd yet perfectly fitting American-esque accent.  Alan Dale brings gravitas to the family politics within the story, even so that when the focus shifts to Alex and such, there’s a distinct loss.  As an aside, Alex is the supposed “chosen one”, and the actor (Christopher Egan) played David in Kings.  So good on him for sticking with a theme, I guess.


What’s perhaps amazing to see, as well, is that everything about the production suggests that everyone involved believes in what they are doing.  The set design, the costuming, the performances, it’s all working overtime to create a viable world.  What’s lacking is the coherence of the story, and it’s anyone’s guess if this was simply a full-blown case of pilot-itis, or a portent of things to come.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • Solid casting
  • Impressive visual style
The Bad:
  • This pilot is a hot mess
  • Who was looking for Legion sequel, anyway?

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

Dominion by - 6/20/2014 7:46 AM242 views

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