Pow­ers Sea­son One

Cops vs capes

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

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!”

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