Graduated Articulates: Syfy’s “Dominion” Is Bad, And They Should Feel Bad

“Dominion” is a show on the Syfy channel whose pilot episode went out on June 19, 2014. It should have stayed in whatever passes as Syfy’s vault.

Why am I so against “Dominion?” Well, I wasn’t so sure at first. I usually like shows with unique premises or that try to take a standing mythology and twist it into something new. I mean, I can look at the relatively poor acting of “Marble Hornets” or “Dark Harvest” and still celebrate them for what they are attempting to accomplish. “Dominion,” though….”Dominion” is vile.

The first strike against “Dominion,” occurs in the very first minutes. It’s premise doesn’t make sense. According to “Dominion,” God suddenly disappeared and the Angels and Demons declared war on humanity. This is…what? Have they read any of the Judeo-Christian religious texts?

First of all, God doesn’t just disappear. That’s “Supernatural” speak for “Uhhh….we know God could fix this, so he’s going to be gone.” It’s a failure of a writing crutch – the worst example of Deus Ex Machina. God is in everything. He is everywhere and nowhere, anywhere and somewhere. He doesn’t just disappear, and he doesn’t just hide. If you want God to be seemingly missing from action, straight up tell us that he’s turned his back on humanity. Don’t play at something that is so out of character for God that it doesn’t even begin to make sense. Instead, how about going along with his established biblical character of divine fury. God never “disappeared” in the Bible. He did, however, forsake humanity.

Second of all, why would the Angels declare war on humanity? The Angels do as they were created to do. They singularly do not have free will. That’s what makes humanity such tempting prey for Lucifer. He is jealous of humanity’s free will and wants to show God that it was a mistake to create us. The Angels would, at most, come to Earth to fight the Demons one on one in an attempt to maintain God’s balance.

This would all be fine if “Dominion” tried to establish their own world with their own divine dimension and played with new rules. However, they patently did not. They chose to take the Judeo-Christian religion and play up some kind of doomsday. The only problem is, when you take such a well known mythology or religion, you have to play by their rules. I can’t create a show that bases itself around the Hindu religion and then spit on or ignore basic tenants of the Hindu faith. I can’t do the same for Greek, Norse, or Egyptian mythology. Hell, I can’t even do that to Tolkien. To do so with Judeo-Christian teachings in America of all places shows a fundamental disregard for basic storytelling, and a strict lack of respect for their audience.

Leaving aside the stilted religious realities of “Dominion,” (Holy shit, please tell me they aren’t going to keep with the main character being a literal Jesus figure. Please.), the show doesn’t do much else to warrant any good will. The main character is probably the most idiotic main character I’ve been expected to care about in a good long time. He’s sneaking up on demons, but he can’t take the time to make sure he doesn’t break a conveniently placed glass bottle? Oh, and by the way, what trained soldier doesn’t noticed that he’s stepped on a bottle? Look at the shot – he had to physically press down to break the bottle. Wow. So our “chosen one,” (which, with Syfy’s level of writing, we know he is even though we won’t officially find out until the very end of the pilot), can’t be bothered to both sneak up on demons AND keep from alerting them to his presence. Great. I’m glad our fate is in his hands!

“Dominion” is a show that is focused on its main caveat of Demons and Angels being evil now that God’s away. That premise fails on a basic level of literary plausibility. While that can be forgiven, the rest of the show has to stand up to make up for lackluster writing and plotting. Lo and behold, it fails there too. The actors are wooden caricatures in most places, and the few highlights (like the wonderful Anthony Head of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Merlin”) can do little to grow their roles past “Obvious Warmongering Stand-in for President Bush #1” and “Conflicted Female Princess #2.” I mean, what person looks at this situation and actively says he doesn’t believe in God? Apparently, Anthony Head.

I usually urge people to stick out a series and see where it goes before ravaging it. “Dominion” is not a show that deserves that benefit of the doubt. I would say I’m surprised Syfy ruined such a unique concept, but they did give us “Sharknado,” after all.

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