Powers Season One
Cops vs capes
released OUT NOW! 2015 | 15 | dvd Creators Charlie Huston, Brian Michael Bendis Cast sharlto Copley, Noah Taylor, susan Heyward, eddie Izzard
In today’s world of superhero popularity and prestige TV shows, an adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis’s gritty comic series Powers sounded like a slam-dunk, especially in the wake of The Walking Dead’s success. Unfortunately, the results have ended up proving that even well-intentioned comic-book adaptations can seriously backfire.
Set in Los Angeles and based in a world where superpowered heroes are the equivalent of Hollywood stars, the show follows the Powers Department, a branch of the police tasked with investigating superhuman-related crimes. Their highest-profile officer is Detective Walker (District 9’s Sharlto Copley), who used to be one of the superhuman “Powers” himself, fighting crime as the famed vigilante Diamond, before he permanently lost his abilities. This first season follows Walker as he investigates the criminal activities of old friendturned-adversary Johnny Royale (Noah Taylor).
Sadly, while Powers has a strong central twist on the traditional cop show, the series frequently lacks focus and doesn’t have the budget or creativity to match its ambition. The PlayStation Network’s first original drama series, it features plenty of violence and swearing, but is clearly functioning on far less money than other US superhero shows. The scale of the episodes often feels too small, and the CG and practical effects are frequently inadequate in some of the larger setpieces – especially when characters start flying.
These issues wouldn’t matter too much if the rest of the drama was effective, but the series gets muddy in its execution, indulging in clunky exposition and becoming way too enamoured of Walker’s brooding over the loss of his powers. Copley is badly miscast as the hero and his twitchy, angsty performance makes Walker a hero who’s very difficult to like.
Frustratingly, despite these flaws and some shaky early episodes, there are points where you get glimpses of the ambitious superhero show Powers is trying to be. Whenever the series forgets about satirising stardom and concentrates on the life of ordinary cops in a superhero world, it’s an engaging and often entertaining watch. Eddie Izzard makes a surprisingly creepy villain as the lifeforce-draining Power Wolfe; there’s also a mid-season prison-break storyline that’s both gripping and ferociously gory.
Unfortunately, these quality spikes never last long enough, and the central problem of Copley’s miscasting, the lack of conceptual focus and the budgetary restrictions all eventually prevent Powers from taking flight. It’s still an interesting take on superheroes, but in a TV landscape featuring comic book shows as impressive as Daredevil and Jessica Jones, simply being “interesting” isn’t quite enough.
Extras Two ten-minute featurettes that cover the creation and development of the show (especially the changes made from the comic), plus 18 minutes of deleted scenes and a two-minute gag reel. DVD buyers just get one featurette. Saxon Bullock
A previous TV incarnation of Powers for FX got as far as a pilot episode in 2011, but failed to get picked up.
“I am not getting on this Ryanair flight!”