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Review

It's hard to achieve 'Dominion' with such bad writing, acting

Remember the movie 'Legion'? That's OK, no one else does either. So why does Syfy have a series-sequel?
Rules of series-making Nos. 1 and 2: Good writing, good acting. Syfy's 'Dominion' has neither.

It is almost never a good idea to randomly quote from Wikipedia, but when reviewing a show in which ravening angels attempt to exterminate the human race in order to win back God's love, it's safe to say all bets are off.

After all, potential viewers of said show, Syfy's "Dominion," which premieres Thursday, should understand the nature of "Legion," the 2010 film on which the series is based. Therefore an excerpt from "Legion's" Wiki entry:

"[The archangel] Michael explains that God has lost faith in mankind and has sent His angels to destroy the human race. He also reveals that Charlie's baby must stay alive, as it is destined to be the savior of mankind; Michael disobeyed God's order to kill Charlie's baby, as he still has faith in humanity. The next morning, Sandra discovers Howard crucified behind the restaurant and covered with huge boils. She tries to rescue him, but he violently explodes into acid."

Explodes into acid, people.

Television's current air of creative self-confidence may be well deserved, but to make a series-sequel to a film panned by virtually every critic on the planet is precisely the sort of hubris that causes angels to fall.

Yet "Legion" opened well (second only to "Avatar" on its debut weekend), and as the zombification of George Washington on "Sleepy Hollow" and the monsters' ball of "Penny Dreadful" might suggest, no hero or icon is safe from reinvention.

So why not angels with daddy issues?

Well, for one thing, because it's confusing. Religious concerns aside, the explanatory opener is cursory at best, leaving those who have not seen or have forgotten "Legion" more than a little bewildered. The easy description is that it's "The Walking Dead" with angels instead of zombies, desert instead of forest and no hint of great writing or acting whatsoever.

The special effects, however, are nifty; surely the video game cannot be far behind.

Post-angel-apocalypse, surviving humans live in fortified cities, the greatest of which is Vega, formerly known as Las Vegas. How they deal with the obvious water supply issue is never explained; possibly it's included in the personal protection of the archangel Michael, here played by Tom Wisdom and introduced post-orgy.

Michael has created something of a military state overseen by Gen. Riesen (Alan Dale), who is basically good, unlike his secretary of commerce, David Whele (Anthony Head), a classic schemer. Not surprisingly, young warrior Alex Lannon (Christopher Egan) wants out; he's sick of the hierarchy that will keep him from marrying Claire (Roxanne McKee), Riesen's lovely daughter (introduced in a flowing white gown with side cutouts and a crown of flowers). Neither does Alex believe in the hope humanity has pinned on the existence of a Chosen One.

That would be the child born during "Legion"-the apocalypse. Twenty-five years ago. Right around the time Alex lost his parents. (Math is no one's strong suit in the pilot of "Dominion.")

It's a lot of exposition to get through, and that's just what writer Vaun Wilmott and director Scott Stewart, the latter of whom also worked on "Legion," do — they get through it, with way too much talking and not nearly enough bodies exploding into acid.

mary.mcnamara@latimes.com

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'Dominion'

Where: Syfy

When: 9 p.m. Thursday

Rating: TV-14-LSV (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14 with advisories for coarse language, sex and violence)

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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