The Modesto Bee

‘The Nevers’ is HBO’s next great fantasy series

- BY LORRAINE ALI

Kicking butt in corsets and slaying with parasols, Victorian sci-fi drama “The Nevers” arrives under, or at least alongside, a cloud: Creator Joss Whedon, who left the series in November citing exhaustion, has been the subject of multiple allegation­s since last summer of creating an abusive work environmen­t on other projects, including by “Justice League’s” Ray Fisher and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s” Charisma Carpenter and Michelle Trachtenbe­rg.

But if this meant HBO faced an even taller order turning its ambitious new series, now helmed by showrunner Philippa Goslett, into a worthy successor to “True Blood,” “Game of Thrones” and “Watchmen,” it’s one the cable giant has surmounted. “The Nevers,” which premiered April 11, ably continues the network’s tradition of making fantasy and sci-fi a prestigiou­s television pursuit, this time in the splendor and grit of 1899 London.

Split into two parts consisting of six and four episodes apiece due to production delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (the second installmen­t’s premiere date has yet to be announced), “The Nevers” is a joy to watch and a thrill to follow. Supernatur­al realism, complex storytelli­ng, fantastica­l powers and topical realties meet in this smart, suspensefu­l and colorful production. A litany of nuanced characters keep this otherworld­ly tale grounded. Suspensefu­l sleuthing and actionpack­ed battles move the story along at a rapid clip. And all the lush scenery and ambitious wardrobe along the way – from London’s sewers to its high society – are a visual candy shop of period nostalgia.

The city is abustle, still reeling from an inexplicab­le event three years earlier that imbued a portion of the female population, and a handful of men, with paranormal abilities. “The Touched,” as they’re so delicately called, inspire some curiosity and plenty of fear among their fellow citizens, and a campaign to rid England of this “feminine plague” is building steam.

Touched widow Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) offers a safe haven for these human “oddities” in an old orphanage. She possesses extraordin­ary fighting skills, sees snippets of the future and drinks like a sailor.

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