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Saturday, September 06, 2014

Is it fair to review the first five minutes of a TV show? Well, why not?

We had high hopes for DOMINION. It looked cool. And: angels. I haven't seen much in the way of scary angels. Not since the excellent 1995 Christopher Walken B-movie THE PROPHECY, I think. ("You have become evil. And evil is mine.")

Unlike werewolves, vampires and zombies, angels are not seriously overexposed in movies. And there is so much you can do with angel mythology. Full disclosure:  I developed an angel TV series for several years for The Movie Network. I wrote four episodes, I had springboards for nine more, I was in no danger of running out of cool stuff you could do with angels.

So we turn on SyFy's DOMINION series and ... angels are basically flying zombies. In the teaser, the hero (I'm assuming he's the hero -- he looks a lot like Matt Damon) shoots one in the head, drives off, gets attacked by another, plays patty-cake with it, and then it's shot out of the sky by a computerized anti-aircraft gun.

If you can shoot an angel in the head and kill it, I'm going to say, it's a flying zombie.

I haven't seen LEGION, on which DOMINION was based. But I bet the writers had lots of ideas on interesting directions to take the series, even if the movie was this dumb. After all, the reboot of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA was a zillion times better than the original. And the original BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER movie was nowhere near as interesting as the first ten minutes of the TV pilot.

But I can't help thinking the network wanted another WALKING DEAD. So:  flying zombies.

Of course, maybe it gets better. Maybe it gets a lot better. Maybe I should watch episode two. Sometimes pilots are the worst episode of a show, because they get too much input, and there are two many notes asking for everything to be made crystal clear.

But when a series about angels has nothing interesting to add to angel canon... I'm not going to watch it.

There are series that find their legs, or their wings. 30 ROCK didn't really hit its stride until episode 8 or so. If the show had stayed at the level of the pilot, I wouldn't have been a devotee. We really need a phrase that's the reverse of jumping the shark...


Legion was an unimaginably stupid movie. It was a (fast) zombie movie where the zombies were people possessed by angels. It was stupid in the big picture, every detail of it was stupid too. Spoiler: there's the second coming of Jesus, but God wants to destroy humanity because he's sick of the bull manure, so he sends a legion of angels to possess people to kill the baby Jesus in-utero. The angel Michael has regained his faith in humanity by watching the character Jeep and his innate goodness, which mostly consists of trying to get in the pants of the one woman in town, and so he rebels against God to protect Jesus from the angels. And on the DVD commentary writer actually claimed that this is a retelling of the story of Abraham and Isaac!

On the plus side, it's a wonderful movie to laugh at with friends.

By Blogger Chris Lansdown, at 11:18 PM  

"Is it fair to review the first five minutes of a TV show?"

We give scripts roughly the same amount of respect, which is to say far too little.

I'm not certain it's fair to review even just the first episode. Think about some of the fantastic characters of the past that were overplayed in the pilot and probably the first six episodes that got reigned in and ended up being the most endearing.

"I haven't seen much in the way of scary angels. Not since the excellent 1995 Christopher Walken B-movie THE PROPHECY, I think."

Supernatural did some wonderful things with angels from season four onward. Their version of Lucifer is my favorite hands down. So charming, so sympathetic, and still devastatingly evil.

Even the good angels were pretty bad at times. Very much of the same cloth as Prophecy.

"There are series that find their legs, or their wings. 30 ROCK didn't really hit its stride until episode 8 or so."


By Blogger Paul William Tenny, at 1:59 PM  

I did watch Legion, which is why I tuned in to Dominion. It gets better. The show is not without its flaws. But the writers have solid ground from which to build a great world full of interesting characters -- if the audience hangs on long enough for the show to find its footing.

By Blogger Kelly J. Crawford, at 2:21 PM  

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