July 10, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Dominion”


DOMINION:  Thursday 10PM on Syfy

This summer, long-suffering USA and Lifetime finally succeeded in airing image-changing original series with Mr. Robot and UnReal.  Syfy, though, still dwells in the desert where most of its low-rent programming seems to be shot, watching other networks notch hits even in its own home genre.  If Defiance is the high-water mark of the current crop, Dominion is a particularly meager example, a barely penetrable piece of postapocalyptic mythology and staggeringly wooden acting that revolves around a Chosen One named Alex (Christopher Egan); the evil archangel Gabriel (Carl Beukes), who’s determined to remove humanity from the earth so God will return; his (usually) less evil brother Michael (Tom Wisdom); some remnants of humanity holed up in what’s left of Las Vegas, now known as Vega, headed by Alex’s pregnant love Claire (Roxanne McKee) and the duplicitous politician David Wheele (Anthony Head); and lots of “8-balls,” humans possessed by murderous angels so that they essentially become zombies.

The Season 2 premiere, written by series creator Vaun Wilmott and directed by Deran Serafian, didn’t improve on the first season.  The big reveal was that Alex has acquired the ability to cure 8-balls of their angelic (which is to say demonic) possession, although one shouldn’t expect that to change the show’s stock in trade of frenzied 8-ball attacks.  Alex spent most of the episode wandering the desert with old pal Noma (Kim Engelbrecht), on the way to another rumored city after Claire, in the premiere’s pre-credit sequence, blew up Gabriel’s stronghold, where Alex and Noma had been captives at the end of Season 1, although of course Gabriel survived the blast.  Michael, too, did some wandering, until he came to a town that was supposed to be in Alabama (still more desert), where he became protector of the pious inhabitants.  Meanwhile, in Vega, Claire and Wheele schemed against each other.

As was the case in Season 1, all this took place without much trace of humor and with only the most basic characterizations, and with performances that sadly were no higher than the level of the dialogue  (This was true even of Head, who can certainly act when roused to do so.)  The production values were in keeping with the international co-production budget, with most of the show photographed through yellowish filters so that it would look sufficiently desert-like, and cartoonish CG imagery for the attack on Gabriel’s base.

Periodically, Syfy announces that it has a more ambitious series on the way–the disappointing Ascension was the last attempt–and perhaps The Expanse or The Magicians will turn the tide over the course of the next year.  (Certainly the latter hails from first-class source material, although it won’t be easy to adapt, especially on a basic cable budget.)  For now, the network remains deep in the postapocalyptic weeds, hitting mediocre ratings at best with shows so predictably uninteresting that hardly anyone is even paying attention anymore.



About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."