Idiot Box: “Dominion” On Syfy

“Dominion” On Syfy

Devin D. O'Leary
3 min read
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Supernatural fiction long ago burned out on vampires and werewolves. These days it’s all about angels. Sexy, sexy angels. Hell, even Interview with the Vampire author Anne Rice ditched bloodsuckers in favor of winged ones. So it’s really no surprise to see Syfy turning to the heavens for inspiration on its new series.

The odd part, really, is that the network’s post-apocalyptic, supernatural series
“Dominion” is based on the 2010 film Legion. The film, starring Paul Bettany as a machine gun-toting angel, is neither well-known nor well-regarded. But when has that ever stopped Syfy from airing something? (Umpteenth rerunning of Ice Spiders, I’m looking at you.)

“Dominion” is set 25 years after the events of
Legion. While the film was set entirely in a greasy spoon diner in the middle of the New Mexico desert, “Dominion” takes place in the city of Vega. On the defensive from attacks by evil angels, mankind has retreated behind a handful of walled-in city-states. (What defense walls offer from flying enemies isn’t quite clear.) Vega is what’s left of Las Vegas, a futuristic Roman Empire-inspired enclave featuring a rigid caste system and gladiatorial combat.

Though it’s run by a cabal of senators, Vega is watched over by the archangel Michael (
300’s Tom Wisdom subbing for Paul Bettany), the one angel to defy God’s command to wipe out all of humanity. Michael spends his time getting nasty with piles of greased-up ladies and worrying about attacks from the evil archangel Gabriel (Carl Beukes, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom). Our main character, however, is Alex Lannen (Christopher Egan from Eragon), a lowly soldier who sneaks out of the city walls to scavenge food for the city’s poor and destitute.

Even if you haven’t seen
Legion recently (and the show will make a lot more sense if you have), it’s apparent within a scene or two that nice-guy Alex is the messianic “Chosen One” everybody’s gassing on about. He was just a baby in the original movie. Now he’s all grown up and unaware of his magical destiny to … do something. The show isn’t really clear on what.

From movie to series, “Dominion” really ramps up the sci-fi element. In the 25 years since dark angels laid waste to the planet, mankind has managed to come up with some impressive sci-fi hardware. Earth now looks like a weird combination between
Dune and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Occasionally we get angels engaged in sword fights, but mostly there’s a lot of political and religious intrigue to keep track of. The cast is above average (with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” alum Anthony Head making the biggest impression as a ruthless politico). Unfortunately the characters are mostly generic goodies and baddies. To top it all off, the mythology feels unnecessarily detailed, while the plots remain rather formulaic. Then again, that’s pretty much the Syfy Channel sweet spot—the freeze frame between soaring on highbrow imagination and crashing on lowbrow execution.

“Dominion” airs Thursdays at 7pm on Syfy.

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