Wow. That was... surprisingly good. Better than I expected from what appeared to be one part knockoff of ‘Game of Thrones’, one part knockoff of ‘Supernatural’, and one part knockoff of ‘Defiance’.
But first, because it’s kind of confusing, let’s see what the hell (or heaven) is going on.
Seen the movie ‘Legion’? If not, don’t worry, neither did anybody else. Fortunately, there’s a big voiceover intro at the beginning of the episode to tell us that most of the lower angels decided to wipe out Man. One of their archangels, Michael, sided with Man instead of Angel, helped them defend themselves, and Man built strongholds to keep the angels out. The head of the bad angels is Gabriel, and helping him are lesser angels that can only appear on Earth by possessing humans. So basically, ‘Supernatural’.
There’s a prophecy of a Chosen One, a child who will help Man defeat Angel once and for all. No one knows who the child is, and it seems like many of the human survivors have embraced him as a religious figure.
That’s the back story. The front story is set in the walled Vega, formerly Las Vegas. Two family houses, the Riesen and the Whele, control the place. It’s not quite a dictatorship, but there’s a strict caste system and poverty lives down a short distance from vast wealth and power.
And then there’s Alex Lannon, the maverick soldier who doesn’t play by the rules. He serves as part of Michael’s corps of soldiers and is in love with Claire Riesen, the daughter of General Riesen (Alan Dale, 'Lost'). Vaguely opposing Riesen at least at first is David Whele (Anthony Stewart Head from ‘Buffy’, with an annoying American accent). David has a son, William, who is an uppity-upp in the local religious organization. He's a true believer, while Dave is not.
And living out in a tower is Michael, who spends his nights hanging out with lots of naked women. The most prominent is Becca Thorn, another member of the ruling class who is the leading scientist. Apparently Michael likes angel sex but not spawning half-angel children.
Gabriel is still around and planning an assault, and finally has non-possessing angels on his side. They can get into Vega without being detected. How? Security guards have possession scanners, but these angels don’t possess humans. Gabriel also has a mole in Vega and the unwitting help of David, who is trying to undermine the city so that he can step in as its new protector.
And the Chosen One has been revealed. Look at the list of characters above and try to guess which one it is.
Got all that? Good. Basically, ‘Dominion’ is a strange mix of ‘Supernatural’ angels and ‘Mad Max’ post-apocalyptic landscapes. Throw in Houses at each other’s throat and you get ‘Game of Thrones’. And the whole “a settlement of mixed types rebuilding after a war and disasters” thing is a lot like Syfy’s other series, ‘Defiance’. Which airs right before ‘Dominion’.
Despite what seems like a car crash of mash-ups, ‘Dominion’ actually works pretty well. Part of it is the cinematography, which uses the South African actors, sets, and exteriors to good effect. There’s an after-the-apocalypse feel that you don’t get with ‘Defiance’.
I’ve heard complaints about the special effects, but they seemed fine to me for your average genre weekly TV show. There seems to be a lot of money tossed at this show.
The actors are mostly forgettable. No one is too offensive, no one is out-acting the others. Tom Wisdom as Michael is probably the standout actor, but he gets to play the inhuman angel guy so he just stands around and glowers a lot. Chris Egan is the Joe Average guy, the audience POV character.
There's some brief coed barracks nudity in the shower (think 'Starship Troopers') but if there were any sexual situations, I must have missed them. The preceding season 2 premiere of 'Defiance' had more sexual situations, with handjobs and bathtub orgasms.
The main reason I rate 'Dominion' pretty highly is because it's the kind of show that makes you want to keep watching. What was the war like? What did Riesen and David do during the war? How was Michael involved? What's a war against angels like? Why doesn't Michael want to have children?
I also like the fact that it's not just a fantasy show, but a religious fantasy show. It looks like they're going to take a look at what it means to have an angel in your midst, training your armies and wanting sex. Or a savior. Claire, for instance, just discovered she's been dating the guy that she has been unwittingly worshipping for years.
The mix of technology and fantasy is also kind of appealing. I find the idea of Michael wearing an earpiece, for instance, kind of amusing.
After watching this and 'Defiance' on the same night, you get the impression that the Syfy execs have finally noticed that 'Game of Thrones' is doing well and decided to spend more money on both shows. 'Defiance' gave us two new cities, 'Dominion' gave us a whole world. With 'Wil Wheaton Project' (Tuesday nights, check it out), and 26 episodes of 'Haven' coming later this summer, SyFy might actually have a decent slate of programming this summer.
So check it out, you might actually like it. Thursday, 9/8 central.