HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Dominion Season 1
HTS Overall Score:68
The movie “Legion” pretty much bombed critically and had its planned sequel sidelined after barely breaking even on the budget. I guess it had enough of a following and enough of a profit to justify a low budget SyFy channel television show. The Syfy channel has been begging for a new hit ever since “Battlestar Galactica” went off the air and has been cycling through show pretty quickly trying to gain that high point once more. “Dominion” treads that same familiar ground of political intrigue, people hiding in plain sight, multiple stories that all tie together etc., but they appear to have lost Moore’s incredible direction and seem to have hired the writers from the CW. Trying to blend mature action/adventure with tween drama just doesn’t exactly work for the low budget Science fiction based channel and the results are disappointing to say the least.
Sometime in the early 21st century God vanished from heaven leaving the world in chaos, both heavenly and ours. The angels were left in disarray, and started taking out their anger and feelings of betrayal on the humans. We got lucky as only the lower caste of angels decided to wage war upon humanity and that allowed us a fighting chance. Even then we were at a disadvantage as thousands of lower level angels (with no corporeal form) invaded human hosts and was led by the Archangel Gabriel himself. Most of humanity was wiped out, but with the help of the Archangel Michael, who sided against Gabriel, humanity was able to drive them back and seemingly obliterate the lower cast (otherwise known as 8balls for some reason). Now humanity has banded together in small city states, forming dictatorships in order to create order out of the chaos. Now the largest of these city states is looked over by Michael himself and is soon to become influential in helping humanity once more as Gabriel, long since thought dead, is making stirrings and preparing for another assault.
Now bring in our hero, Alex Lannen (Christopher Egan). He’s nothing but a human soldier, but Michael knows that he is a prophesied child who will be the one who can drive the invading forces from humanity. The only problem is that he doesn’t know it yet, and Michael is faced with yet another challenge as the much more powerful class of angels, known as the higher angels, have finally taken an interest in the war and has come down to fight alongside Gabriel. Now Michael has to push this plan into overdrive and get Alex ready for the battles ahead.
The show is in interesting mix of lore turned on its ear into a post-apocalyptic fantasy world. Much the same way that the “Diablo” games did and actually carries some of the same flair that the games have. I really was intrigued by the series when I saw the trailers as I’m a sucker for fantasy show, but started raising an eyebrow within the first episode or two. “Dominion” just oozes with over the top political shenanigans and back stabbing and enough tween romance to make “Twilight” a bit nauseous. The villains are overly clichéd archetypes who sit there twirling their mustaches and laughing evilly into the camera as they prepare for world domination (both human and angel). Combine that with acting so wooden that I’m pretty sure most of the actors were required by the director to act like Sam Worthington at all times. Michael is so flat and deadpan that I wondered if he was actually high during the filming and Christopher Egan ends up being the highlight of the show and he’s not exactly A-list worthy. Anthony Head (famed for playing Giles in “Buffy” and “Anglel”) even has a hard time of it as the script turns him into a mega maniac without any depth of character to fall back on.
The allegorical or historical elements of Angels and humans is more of an afterthought in the series, really just giving us a political and post-apocalyptic drama than anything with the identity of the villains and the heroes as being human and angel. The intricacies and the lore behind their identities is squandered as you’re just supposed to accept “yeah, these are the good guys, these are the bad guys…GO!”. I would have been a bit more forgiving if I saw some potential for growth, but by the time the last episode rolled I couldn’t see a future for the show. The low budget CGI, the over the top drama, the poor acting and the storyline itself just dead ends itself at the series finale. I had hoped for more, but the cards fell where they are.
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[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=36425[/img]“Dominion” comes to Blu-ray with your standard Television aspect ratio of 1.78:1 encoded AVC transfer and looks quite good once you can get past some of the hokey SyFy station CGI. The show tends to be in the dark a lot of the time so black levels are paramount, and the blacks don’t let anyone down. Deep and inky, they create lots of shadow detail where you might be worried the ball would be dropped. Sure there’s some black crush and a little bit of washing out, but it’s nothing big and doesn’t hamper the image much at all. Colors are nice and rich, even if the gaudily colored items tend to look a bit fake due to the budget (especially some of the enemies very plastic looking armor). Clarity and fine detail look very solid as you can see on the clothing and battle suits of the angels and humans. The discs themselves look like there have been no major compression issues as I didn't see any artifacting except for some banding that came and went. A good looking presentation for a SyFy TV series.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=36433[/img]The 5.1 Lossless mix for “Dominion” is quite satisfactory and replicates the TV show’s limited sound design quite well. The show is a bit uneven in its sound design as we have whole episodes that are VERY heavily front loaded and then we switch to another where the battle rages on and the surrounds and LFE channel light up like the fourth of July. Dialogue is clean and unhampered by any dropouts or fading, but rather blend cleanly with the rest of the track. Surrounds can be used sparingly at some points and then be fully cranked up the next, and the bass is just a bit uneven, but that’s more a fault of the limited budge the SyFy channel put into the disc rather than Universal’s mix as it sounded that way on the broadcast run as well. Simply put, Universal did a good job replicating the show’s rather wonky sound mix.
• Alternate Extended Episode
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
“Dominion’s” first season is more than a bit rough. Most first seasons have some kinks to work out but this is unfortunately what we would joke about as “typical Syfy channel stuff” back in the days. It felt like they pulled all the negative aspects of the move “Legion” and added in the writers behind the CW tween dramas and tried to blend in some gritty “Game of Thrones” plotline and the results are unfortunately underwhelming. It may be worth it as a rental for some, but it’s not something that will appeal to many people. It lacks the excellent writing of “Game of Thrones” and is a bit too mature for the tween crowd so it kind of is stuck in limbo between the two age groups and is left to fend for itself.
Starring: Christopher Egan, Tom Wisdom, Roxanne McKee
Created by: Vaun Wilmott
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Universal Studios
Runtime: 382 Minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: December 23rd, 2014
Buy Dominion Season 1 On Blu-ray at Amazon
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