A few months back, we told you that a TV series based on the horror classic The Omen was in development at Lifetime. Well, the network today delivered the following verdict on the potential series: Lifetime is all for you Damien, it’s all for you! After years of being primarily known for their endless onslaught of trashy telefilms about such harrowing topics as internet porn addiction, Lifetime has apparently gone over to the dark side. If only they had known the power of it this whole time.
Developed for the screen by former Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzarra, Damien will function as both a continuity reboot and a sort-of sequel to the original Omen film, and will focus on the young Antichrist’s full realization of his dark powers and evil destiny as he enters adulthood. This approach effectively retcons the two theatrical sequels to The Omen, although neither of those films – one of which featured a pre-fame Sam Neill as the adult incarnation of Damien – ever came close to the popularity of the original.
Damien’s first season will be a short one, as Lifetime has only ordered six episodes for the series’ inaugural batch. That’s a pretty low number, even for a cable series, making it likely that Lifetime wants to test the waters of the idea before jumping into the deep end with a full 13-16 episode order. The current plan is to air Damien’s debut season in early 2015, although no specific date has been determined.
Creatively, focusing on an adult Damien is probably the smartest route to travel for this new project, as any new child Damien would endlessly be compared to Harvey Stephens’ sinister performance in the original 1976 film. For evidence of that theory, look no further than the poorly regarded 2006 remake of The Omen, which featured a Damien that seemed almost precocious when compared to Stephens’ kid from hell. Done almost shot-for-shot, The Omen remake proved the futility of trying to tell the classic tale of the Thorn family over again, and Mazzara likely took this to heart when formulating the plotline for Damien’s small-screen transition.
The casting of Damien himself will be absolutely crucial to the success of this venture, as the character will require a tight-rope walk between protagonist and antagonist. Damien can’t really be 100% demonic evil, as audiences might end up being turned off by the idea of following the rise of a man who wants to effectively end the world.
TV has certainly come to accept the concept of the deeply flawed anti-hero in recent years, but even bastards like Walter White, Frank Underwood, and Vic Mackey had people they cared about – and moments that humanized them. For viewers to truly connect and empathize with Damien, he will need to be internally conflicted, and have friends whose lives he actually values. Not just any actor will be able to make us feel literal sympathy for the devil.
One aspect of The Omen that Damien hopefully doesn’t change is Jerry Goldsmith’s iconic, haunting main theme “Ave Satani”. There is a reason that music has become just as synonymous with dread and horror as The Exorcist‘s infamous “Tubular Bells” track. Of course, “Ave Satani” or no, there are roughly a million ways this series could go wrong. Hopefully Damien’s TV show doesn’t end up as cursed as the sets of his films supposedly were.
Damien is expected to premiere on Lifetime in early 2015.