Damnation – The Show Where You Hate Everyone and Everything

Photo Credit: Andrew Eccles/USA Network

Damnation Series Premiere Plot Summary:

In 1930s Iowa, a preacher (Killian Scott) rallies his congregation, and the townsfolk to standup against the bankers and industrialists who are hurting their business. Problem with that plan is, they hire a murderous Pinkerton detective (Logan Marshall-Green) to break things up.

Damnation is an unlikeable show.

The story is about as dry, and disinteresting — the struggle between workers with a potentially (or not so potentially) socialist/communist agenda clashing with capitalists. We’re constantly bombarded with class and socioeconomic struggles everyday in the media — so why do we really need another reminder?

To complicate matters, we’re presented a number of characters with shady motivations, and “scandalous” pasts. And by a number, it’s literally every character. That’s just too many out of the gate. We literally don’t have enough time, or reason to invest this deeply into all the characters so soon. this is mostly due to the fact that none of the characters are that dynamic, interesting or even likable. They’re all kinda jerky people who are out for themselves.

Damnation is also littered with stiff performances. Killian Scott starts the episode off strong as a left (pun intended) of center preacher, but his character quickly devolves into an overly stoic, quiet, and shady killer. His character literally decelerates from 60-0 in seconds. Logan Marshall-Green, who is always solid, might have been the wrong choice for this show as a strike buster. This character needs to be menacing, and at times over-the-top. However, we get someone who is subtle, quiet, and calculating. This would be fine if every other character wasn’t trying to be subtle, quiet, and calculating.

The combination of obtusely written characters, and stiff performances make for characters you cannot invest in. There is no opening for you to engage any character on an emotional level, or frankly for you to even give a damn about.

And to pour gasoline on the fire — the show moves at a glacial pace. The one hour premiere moves at the pace of a six hour mini-series making it agonizing to get through.

What’s disappointing here is that from the trailers Damnation looked interesting. It looked like it was going to be a gritty, ballsy drama that was going to keep you riveted from open to close. Given that USA has been on a creative tear recently, this seemed like a slam dunk. Instead, we get a slow, disinteresting drama filled with unlikeable characters that tries to use shock value (nudity, graphic violence, and a plethora of foul language) to distract from its obvious flaws.

Rating: 2 out of 10

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites