Tag Archives: Syfy

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.’

Seasonal scare-fare from Syfy

Lacey Chabert soon learns that a homecoming isn’t always a party of five (or more) in the original thriller Scarecrow, which premieres Saturday night on Syfy.
The actress, best known for her teen work as Claudia Salinger in the 1994-2000 Fox family drama Party of Five, stars in this new chiller as Kristen Miller, who has come back to her rustic hometown after failing to make it in the big city. Kristen has returned to sell the dilapidated Miller family homestead out in the countryside, but in short order she becomes more focused on not buying the farm, if you catch my drift.
She has an awkward reunion with her old flame Aaron Harris (Robin Dunne, Sanctuary), now a teacher, who pulls up with a schoolbus-load of the local Breakfast Club, high school students who have been given detention. Previously unaware Kristen is back, Aaron has volunteered his misbehaving students to help move an ancient, moldering scarecrow from the Miller cornfield, the original site of the local fall Scarecrow Festival, and relocate it to the town square.
None of the group realizes that an ancient legend about a murderous Scarecrow that stalks its victims among the corn is actually true – or that a couple of teenagers hoping to score a literal roll in the hay in the rotting barn nearby have had a grisly accident that has reawakened the creature.
As the body count on the farm starts to skyrocket, Kristen and Aaron desperately attempt to keep their freaked-out charges safe while trying to figure out what is driving the Scarecrow’s latest terrifying psycho-spree.
Like many of Syfy’s Saturday night movies, Scarecrow is a Canadian import shot on a limited budget, but it’s no Sharknado campfest. Rick Suvalle’s tightly constructed teleplay takes time to flesh out most of the teenage characters, which are often nothing but (literally) dead meat in horror films like this, and Chabert’s Kristen is plucky and resourceful, no mere victim. Director Sheldon Wilson keeps the action moving along, delivering a film that looks a good deal more expensive than its budget could have supported. There’s a bit of relatively minor gore, but most of the big carnage, like an incident that involves a large piece of farm machinery, is kept off-camera.
As for the CGI Scarecrow, it’s a wonderful thing of intertwined sticks, vines and stalks that can “grow” without warning out of the ground at any given moment, sprout killer tendrils and scale horizontal surfaces like a spider. It’s pretty creepy.
Chabert, who turned 31 last Monday, has done a couple of earlier films in the thriller genre, but never one where she was the primary character in peril.
“It was really fun to just have the experience of filming something where you’re trying to create for an audience all those scares and jumps,” she explains. “A lot of it was at night and it was freezing in Vancouver and raining, so we would all just huddle around these heaters outside in the mud. We actually filmed it on a farm. We started to feel like we were actually living the movie, kind of.
“We were all covered in blood and dirt, but it was like being at camp. For the most part, the Scarecrow is CGI, so we couldn’t see what the audience will see, but I’m really happy with how it turned out.”
She also says she’s glad her movie isn’t too over-the-top horrific, because she finds movies like that hard to take herself.
“The truth is, I’m a real scaredy-cat,” Chabert says. “I prefer movies where it’s about, like, a killer scarecrow rather than something that’s more like a psychological thriller or about a serial killer, where it’s more realistic that it could happen. Those genuinely scare me, and I can lose sleep over them. This movie kind of falls in the middle, where it is scary and all our performances were intended to be kept as real as possible, but we’re in very elevated, unreal circumstances. To me, this movie is meant to be a Halloween fun ride.
“A horror movie is not my first choice for a movie to see, though,” she adds. “I’m more a fan of romantic comedy. I remember when I was very little seeing Poltergeist. I think that still is one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen.”
The busy actress rarely stops working, both as a voiceover artist and in on-camera roles, but she says she’d love to find time to do more sitcom work like her recent arc on the ABC Family series Baby Daddy.
“I had such a ball in that,” Chabert says. “It was the first time I had done a sitcom in front of a live audience, and I couldn’t believe how nervous I was the first episode. Once I got into it though, I had so much fun with it. It’s just an amazingly talented group of people. I’d love to (do more sitcoms).”

Arabian nightmare

Elliott Knight
Tomorrow night Syfy temporarily surrenders its Saturday night slot normally devoted to gloriously terrible movies to two new series it acquired from international distributors. Neither show is really worth your time, but one of them is so INgloriously terrible that you’ll want to give it wide berth.
That would be Sinbad, a wrong-headed 12-episode BBC adaptation of the old legends about the seagoing Arabian hero and swashbuckler. This new series, apparently aimed at very undiscriminating tween girls, stars charmless British newcomer Elliot Knight in the title role, here a cocky teenager who spends life in his hometown port of Basra running various scams and con games. One of them ends tragically, leading to the death of his older brother, so his grandmother (Janet Suzman, Nicholas and Alexandra) places him under a curse: Sinbad will be doomed to roam the seas, never allowed to spend more than 24 hours at a time on land until he atones for his guilt.
The premiere episode appears cheap and ill-produced, with some of the men’s costumes looking as if they were purchased at a Gap outlet. The script takes so long to lay out Sinbad’s back story that the episode is half over before he finally boards The Providence to flee the wrath of an angry nobleman (Naveen Andrews, Lost), at which point the lethargic pace picks up a little. The passenger list on the craft includes two of Sinbad’s most recent marks (awkward!), as well as an imposing Nordic traveler named Gunnar (Elliot Cowan, most recently seen as Lorenzo Medici in Da Vinci’s Demons on Starz).
The biggest among Sinbad’s many problems is that it simply lacks any sense of magic. Sinbad battles a CGI water creature in the opening episode, but the special effect looks like something a not particularly gifted teenager might knock out on his laptop. All things considered, it’s easy to see why the BBC opted to pull the plug on this feeble series after these first episodes aired in the UK.
Airing immediately after Sinbad is Primeval: New World, a Canadian spinoff of the moderate British hit Primeval, which ran for a few years Stateside on BBC America. Like your favorite niece’s third-grade pageant, Primeval: NW is more sophisticated and better acted, written, directed and produced than Sinbad, but it’s also little more than the British original transplanted to Canada with a new cast.
If you saw that original show, you know that means Primeval: NW revolves around a plucky band of scientists who are trying to contain the threat when “anomalies” in space and time begin to open, spilling prehistoric beasties onto modern-day streets. Their job is made more complicated because they can’t just kill the creatures that come through; as anyone who has seen a time-travel yarn knows, if they snuff out the wrong ancient creature, they risk setting off a ripple effect throughout time that could have devastating effects on the current day.
Perhaps the most familiar face to U.S. audiences will be Sara Canning, who starred for a time on The Vampire Diaries as Nina Dobrev’s doomed Aunt Jenna. Andrew Lee Potts, an original cast member from the British Primeval, reprises his character as Connor Temple in Saturday’s premiere to provide a bridge between the two shows. The special creature effects are indeed a cut above the usual TV standard, but if you saw the UK original, they’ll look pretty familiar to you.
Like Sinbad, Primeval: NW was axed by its production company after a single season, so the 13 episodes Syfy has scheduled for this summer will be all she wrote. Consider yourself warned.
sara canning
Sara Canning

From X-Box to TV

Julie Benz, Graham Greene, Grant Bowler
Defiance, Syfy’s heavily promoted new action series premiering tonight, is adapted from an equally hyped video game, so you might be inclined, as I was, to manage my expectations. The series is set in 2046, 33 years after the people of Earth were stunned to see their skies suddenly filled by spaceships bearing a race of aliens known collectively as the Votans, who were seeking a new home after their own star system was destroyed. Inherently peaceful beings, they thought the planet was uninhabited (oops), but nonetheless received a chilly welcome from the locals.
The very eventful three decades that followed were marked by unrest and even extended war between the species, rendering Earth a heavily burnt and reshaped planet before both sides eventually declared an armistice out of sheer mutual exhaustion.
As the series premiere opens, former Marine Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler) and his adopted alien daughter, Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas), are scavenging the remains of a crashed spaceship for anything valuable when they are set upon by unruly bike-riding Irathients, members of the same feral race as Irisa. They manage to escape with their lives, finally making their way to Defiance, a town that has risen up atop the ruins of what once was St. Louis. The newly installed mayor, Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz), is trying to keep a lid on the simmering tensions in a town shared by humans, most prominently mine tycoon Rafe McCauley (Graham Greene) and his family, and aliens, including the scheming aristocratic Castithan couple Datak and Stahma Tarr (Tony Curran, Jaime Murray). Early on in the course of the series, Nolan accepts a position as chief lawkeeper in Defiance, after he, Irisa and their new neighbors discover that someone is behind a sinister plot to wipe their community off the map.
For the first half-hour of tonight’s premiere, I worried that my worst fears were being realized. The new Earth on which Defiance is set seemed comprised of post-apocalyptic clichés (motorbike riding gangs of thugs, again? Really?), and when they introduced a Romeo-and-Juliet storyline involving the Tarr son and the McCauley daughter, I very nearly reached for the remote control and gave up.
Things do improve somewhat as we start to explore Defiance, however, and meet other colorful characters including Kenya Rosewater (the vivacious Mia Kirshner), Amanda’s sister and the very capable proprietress of the Need/Want, the town’s bar, brothel and gambling hall. The principals start to emerge more sharply, and Bowler develops the kind of rascally sense of humor we traditionally expect in our swashbuckling action heroes. Benz, who played the title character’s endearing yet largely passive love interest for several seasons on Dexter, clearly relishes playing an idealistic woman with a steely spine here, and the always impressive Murray is able to suggest hidden mysteries in an alien beauty who doesn’t speak much in the first couple of episodes.
I don’t know yet whether I’ll be visiting Defiance on a regular basis myself, but fans of gaming and the sci-fi action genre probably will find this new entry rewarding. I can’t fairly comment on the special visual effects, since the background screeners provided by Syfy contained mostly temporary effects footage, which, for what it’s worth, wasn’t bad on its own terms.