This article contains information that could be considered too revealing according to our spoiler policy. Proceed with caution. You can't unsee it!Reason The show doesn't premiere until a few hours after publish time; we got a screener.
Should You Let Damien Give You The Mark Of The Beast?
Or will it take all the hounds of Hell to make you watch the Devil's son work out his daddy issues?
What Is This Thing?
Hey, remember the 1976 horror movie The Omen (the less said about the 2006 remake, the better), about young son-of-Satan Damien Thorn? This series picks up in the present day, as Damien turns thirty. Now a photojournalist who doesn't remember much of his childhood, he's confused -- or worse -- when traits from his dad's side of the family start to kick in.
And, no, this thing is not Lucifer. I was confused at first, too!
When Is It On?
It premieres Mondays at 10 PM ET on A&E, starting March 7.
Why Was It Made Now?
Just a few months after Damien creator Glen Mazzara's 2013 firing from his showrunner gig at The Walking Dead (remember how that was such a big deal? But TWD is SO MUCH BETTER now!), he snagged a juicy development deal with Fox Television Studios. Damien looks to be the first thing Mazzara's worked on since TWD, so it seems like this is the first idea of his that Fox has allowed to come into fruition.
Here's another interesting note: when the deal was made for Damien in August 2014, it was going to be on Lifetime. The decision to broadcast it on A&E was made in April 2015, with then-General Manager of A&E and Lifetime Rob Sharenow saying that "the sizable fan-base for our hit series Bates Motel...perfectly aligns with Damien."
In other words, why have one show with a somewhat nonverbal white male with a horrible family situation who's destined to be a monster when you can have two?
What's Its Pedigree?
I just mentioned Glen Mazzara, who in addition to his TWD creds has a lengthy résumé working on shows like Nash Bridges, The Shield, and a TV adaptation of the movie Crash...so he arguably has experience turning movies into television. Mazzara's former TWD colleague, composer Bear McCreary, is here too, this time adapting Jerry Goldsmith's 1976 chant-heavy theme (come on, sing it with me!) for the small screen.
Brit Bradley James, who you last saw on iZombie as Liv's doomed boyfriend Lowell, plays Damien, and Barbara Hershey plays some lady who shows up to provide some creepy exposition. From the shade of her lipstick, I'll assume she's on Team Devil. And it's always nice to see Scott Wilson, who played Hershel on TWD. Here he plays Damien's friend/mentor John Lyons, affiliation as yet unknown.
Oh, and via flashback and family photo, you get to see Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, who played Damien's parents in the original movie (your services will not be necessary, Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles). Does that count?
Bradley James is pretty pleasant to look at, and he's got an easy charm that I like. He definitely does "tortured" well, which will suit him as he inevitably tries to come to grips with his daddy issues.
The pilot is so very piloty that it's hard to say, you guys. There is SO MUCH talky exposition that I found myself drifting, big-time. But typical pilot problems aside, there are some issues here that worry me. The source material (including Damien: Omen II and The Final Conflict, both of which aren't part of this show's canon) have a nice balance of true terror and cheesy camp, but in the episode of Damien I saw, the show fails to find that balance. Instead, it seems to want us to take things like Damien's "666" on the scalp and a guy being devoured by clearly joyous rottweilers (look at those waggy tails!) really seriously, but it doesn't build a foundation of tension or fear to stifle our snickers.
I believe that there's a lot that could be mined from the "surprise, your dad is Satan" vein in the right hands, and Glen Mazzara is definitely a guy who's managed to spin straw into gold in the past. So I'm willing to give this one or two more episodes to see if it finds its footing. And if not: well, there's always Lucy, Daughter Of The Devil.