Tag Archives: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Dominion continues angel apocalyptic saga from Legion

Tom Wisdom and Christopher Egan star in 'Dominion' on Syfy.

Tom Wisdom and Christopher Egan star as, respectively, the Archangel Michael and his human hero, Alex Lannon in ‘Dominion,’ premiering tonight on Syfy.

Dominion, a new action-fantasy series premiering tonight on Syfy, starts about 25 years after the events of Legion, a so-so 2010 end-of-days horror movie that saw mankind beset, not by devils, but by a militant host of heaven led by the Archangel Gabriel. In that film, God finally had gotten fed up with humanity and simply walked away from the entire mess, leaving Gabriel to unleash throngs of lower angels that possessed the bodies of their human victims, beginning the biggest mass genocide in world history.
One of the few things standing in Gabriel’s way was his angelic brother, Michael, who took the side of the humans and did what he could to protect his frail mortal charges against their powerful foes. During the course of that earlier film, Michael managed to find and save a “chosen child” who seemed predestined to save the human race one day – if Gabriel and his minions didn’t kill him first.
Even with Michael’s help, things went badly for humanity and, as Dominion opens in the near future close to the rubble of Las Vegas, heavily fortified city-states have risen from the ruin. One of them, the re-christened Vega, is home to a large population of humans split into a harsh caste system and ruled by two houses: the benign House Riesen, led by a high-minded military general (Alan Dale, The O.C.), and House Whele, overseen by a ruthless and manipulative politician (Anthony Stewart Head, Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
Vega also is home turf to Alex Lannon (Christopher Egan, Kings), a young soldier who has grown up in the retinue of House Riesen and shares a secret crush with lovely Claire Riesen (Roxanne McKee, Game of Thrones). A headstrong maverick, Alex is given to making forbidden solo patrols outside the walls of Vega, looking for pockets of Gabriel’s killer angels. Those forays always earn Alex some stiff punishment from Michael (Tom Wisdom, 300), but as we watch the two of them together, it’s not hard to figure out that Alex is the chosen child Michael rescued years ago.
Meanwhile, in the mountains to the north, Gabriel (Carl Beukes) is again massing his own forces, which now include some higher angels, for a final series of assaults to exterminate mankind forever.
For my money, the creative team of the long-running CW hit Supernatural handles much the same story with a good deal more wit and ingenuity, but if you’re in the mood for straight-on summer action, Dominion turns out to be fairly entertaining, at least in tonight’s 90-minute pilot, which is all I’ve seen. Egan make a very likable human hero, and the special visual effects, still incomplete in the screener I viewed, promise to be pretty eye-popping.
The only real debit I noticed was the performance of Wisdom, who seems entirely too lightweight and bland as Michael, a role played by the formidable Paul Bettany in Legion. The rest of Dominion isn’t boring, however, although Beukes’ Gabriel, the big bad of the show, is barely in tonight’s opener, so he’s still an unknown quantity.
From 'Dominion' on Syfy.

From left, Claire (Roxanne McKee), Gen. Riesen (Alan Dale), the long-MIA Jeep (Langley Kirkwood) and Michael (Tom Wisdom) attend a Vega jubilee that goes horribly wrong in tonight’s premiere of ‘Dominion.’

Tyler Labine fans may enjoy his new Deadbeat

'Deadbeat' on Hulu Plus.

Tyler Labine (‘Reaper’) and Cat Deeley (‘So You Think You Can Dance’) star as rival mediums in ‘Deadbeat,’ a supernatural comedy now streaming exclusively on Hulu Plus.

Canadian-born actor Tyler Labine has been acting for more than two decades, but the first time I really noticed him was in Shaun Cassidy’s provocative yet prematurely canceled 2005-06 sci-fi series Invasion. I became a big Labine fan while enjoying his hilarious work in the 2007-09 CW series Reaper, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer-style supernatural comedy that found Labine and a buddy trying to outwit Satan himself (Ray Wise). Later, he held his own opposite the dazzling Judy Greer (Archer) in the shortlived 2011 CBS romantic comedy Mad Love.
Now Labine is back in Reaper mode (sort of) in Deadbeat, a new supernatural comedy that began streaming its first 10-episode season Wednesday exclusively on Hulu Plus. The show casts Labine as sad-sack New Yorker Kevin Pacalioglu (pronounced “pack-a-lee-OH-glu,” but just call him “Pac” like everyone else does). Pac is pretty much a slacker who is down on his luck. He has no family to speak of, it’s been eight years since he got lucky with a woman and his only friend is his drug dealer, Rufus “Roofie” Jones (Brandon T. Jackson from the Percy Jackson teen movie series).
Pac’s sole marketable skill is that he sees dead people. He’s a genuine medium, who is compassionate enough to take time to help restless souls wrap up the unfinished business that ties them to the mortal world. Unfortunately, he’s absolutely terrible when it comes to negotiating for his services, so he lives on the brink of financial disaster.
Pac doesn’t call a lot of attention to himself, but he still catches the eye of Camomile White (Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance), a beautiful clairvoyant whose sunny smile and camera-friendly personality conceal the fact that she’s a shameless fraud preying on the grief and superstition of others. Over the course of Season 1, Pac helplessly finds himself attracted to Camomile, who sees him only as a rival and a threat to her career.
It’s a fairly interesting set-up, but I’m not going to kid you, the first few episodes of Deadbeat are fairly deadly, playing like something that was dashed off by the writers at the end of a long night of drinking. When we first meet him, Pac is hard to root for, even as played by Labine. He’s a depressed mess, not to mention apparently an idiot who mangles even very common words and phrases (he actually pronounces “hymn” as “hymen”). The jokes are nothing special, either.
Weirdly, the second half of the season – starting with episode six, a Halloween-themed story that finds an interesting twist on the scary Bloody Mary urban legend – seems like a different show altogether. Pac stops acting quite so mentally disabled and the ghosts he meets are more interesting and start to connect in a meaningful way with Pac’s own journey. By the time we get to the end of the season, when we see Labine reunited with his old Reaper castmate Wise, the writers have taken Pac, Camomile and her mousy assistant, Sue (played by Lucy DeVito, daughter of Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman), to an interesting place and set up the potential for a fairly promising second season, if Hulu orders one.
As noted, though, to get there, you have to slog through some dismal creative flailing by the writers in the early episodes. If you’re a fan of Labine – or, for that matter, Deeley, who actually is very good working in stone-cold-bitch mode – it’s probably worth the effort. Otherwise, you probably can sit this one out.

Anemic ‘Dracula’ needs transfusion of scariness

Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars in "Dracula" on NBC.

Dracula (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) dallies with Lady Jane (Victoria Smurfit)

Since its publication in 1897, Bram Stoker’s masterful gothic thriller Dracula has inspired several films (ranging from the ‘30s classic with Bela Lugosi to a slapstick farce from Mel Brooks), multiple stage adaptations, a musical, a TV miniseries and several TV movies, and even a ballet. I’m pretty sure, however, that NBC’s new series adaptation, which premieres tonight, is the first time Dracula bas been turned into a sleep aid.
This muddled new show opens in 1881 Romania, as two shadowy figures break into Dracula’s crypt and reanimate his dessicated corpse via a blood sacrifice. The old bloodsucker cleans up very well, in the form of Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Here’s where things start to get confusing, though. Somehow we’ve flashed forward a decade or so to London, where Dracula is passing himself off as an American industrialist called Alexander Grayson. He’s ostensibly in the British capital to drum up financial support for his new wireless electrical technology that will brighten the London nights. His real motive, however, is to take down many of the city’s wealthy movers and shakers, who are members of an ancient and deadly secret society that cursed Dracula with his plasma-craving immortality centuries ago, a project in which he finds a very unexpected ally.
Dracula’s attention is divided, moreover, after he encounters Mina Murray (Jessica De Gouw), a lovely medical student who immediately fascinates Dracula with her uncanny resemblance to his long-lost wife. The vampire resolves to have Mina for himself, despite her engagement to Jonathan Harker (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a handsome but somewhat oafish young journalist. At odds with both these suitors is Mina’s best friend, Lucy Westenra (Katie McGrath), whose devotion to Mina appears to go well beyond the sisterly.
I haven’t even gotten into the medical experiments Dracula is underwriting with an eye to getting over his fatal aversion to sunlight, but it should already be obvious that series creator Cole Haddon is heavily reimagining Stoker’s sturdy original thriller, to dubious ends. Tonight’s premiere is a sluggish hour in which I spent most of my time just trying to figure out what was going on and who each of the many, many unfamiliar characters was in relation to the people around him or her. Mina and her young friends are shallow and not very interesting, while Dracula’s minion, Renfield, has morphed from a gibbering, pasty-faced, bug-ingesting madman into a strapping and well-spoken black lawyer (Nonso Anozie) who is both faithful companion and confidant to Dracula.
The most interesting character, for my money, in this new series is Lady Jayne (Victoria Smurfit), a Victorian Buffy the Vampire Slayer who dashes through the night in sexy steampunk outfits dispatching Nosferatu, as she calls Dracula’s ilk. (She has fabricated the serial killer Jack the Ripper, we learn, to explain the mangled human bodies left by vampire attacks).
After watching all five of the preview episodes NBC helpfully sent out for review, eventually I started to untangle the snarled threads of this complicated narrative and to find parts that are fairly compelling. Getting there, however, means slogging through lots of very tedious scenes, although on the whole, the series looks as expensive as it reportedly is.
I also am still looking for someone to root for. The show seems to be trying to make Dracula into a tragic hero, and Rhys Meyers is very charismatic in the title role, despite a distracting free-range American accent. Yet while Dracula’s main adversaries are truly terrible men, it’s hard to overlook the fact that Dracula seems to have no compunction about murdering both guilty and innocent alike if it suits his purposes. And sadly, as noted above, most of the more conventionally heroic characters are dull and colorless.
Worst of all, this series is simply not very scary, which is kind of the minimum I expect from a show called Dracula. I’m not encouraged that the showrunner and head writer is Daniel Knauf, who created a supernatural-themed HBO series called Carnivale about a decade ago. That series started out with tremendous promise before it got lost in its own murky mythology, sluggish pacing and mostly unsympathetic characters. I wish I could say I don’t foresee history repeating itself, but as tonight’s premiere episode reveals, this bloodless Dracula just doesn’t have a lot of dramatic bite.

‘Buffy’ fan favorite resurfaces on ‘Warehouse 13’

Warehouse 13 - Season 4
James Marsters, Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly
In last October’s midseason finale of Warehouse 13, agent-in-charge Artie Nielsen (Saul Rubinek), having suffered a psychotic break, murdered Leena (Genelle Williams), a Warehouse colleague, and unleashed upon the world a deadly Artifact that could wipe out half the global population via a terrible sweating sickness.
As the series returns tonight with new episodes on Syfy, Artie lies in an apparent coma, having been stabbed with a special dagger by agent and geek goddess Claudia Donovan (Allison Scagliotti). With few other options, Claudia and fellow agent Steve Jinks (Aaron Ashmore) embark on a risky journey into Artie’s psyche in a Hail Mary attempt to bring him back.
Meanwhile, agents Pete Lattimer and Myka Bering (Eddie McClintock, Joanne Kelly) fly to New York to find Bennett Sutton (guest star James Marsters), an alcoholic Columbia University professor who is an authority on the court of Marie Antoinette. They’re trying to find information on one of Marie’s lovers, the Count of St. Germain, who may have had an Artifact they hope may reverse the pestilence “evil Artie” unleashed. Once the trio arrives in Paris, however, Pete and Myka quickly discover that Sutton is working his own agenda. Not only is he not what he seems, but his connection with Marie’s Count is a lot more direct that they ever imagined.
Marsters is perhaps best known to fantasy fans for his wildly popular role as the British bloodsucker Spike in the cult hit Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and if you admired his performance on that show, you’re very likely to love him in this guest stint, which clearly is tailor-made to the actor’s knack for playing charming and sinister at the same time. There’s even a nice little “vampire” throwaway joke in an exchange with Pete and, happily, the ambiguous conclusion to the episode seems to leave open the possibility of a return appearance later by Marsters. (Polly Walker of HBO’s Rome is another guest star as a mysterious character who may also have a secret connection to Sutton).
As for Warehouse 13 itself, this episode finds the series in peak form. Williams’ Leena, who returns in this episode in a dream context to make a poignant farewell (you’ll see her next week as well, very briefly in an archived video), always was a charming presence on the show, but she had become less and less relevant as Scagliotti’s Claudia matured from her initial brattiness into a formidable, even heroic agent in her own right while also exploring Claudia’s inner life via her relationship with Ashmore’s Steve. Leena’s departure sharpens the focus on the principal characters.
As for McClintock and Kelly, their relaxed chemistry is really the engine that drives the show, and I especially like how this attractive duo has established their characters as being devoted to each other without automatically playing up a romantic or sexual component. That’s probably in the cards somewhere down the line, if Warehouse 13 continues its successful run, but it’s nice to see the writers-producers aren’t rushing toward that particular cliff.