Possible Spoilers ahead!
After a long and troubled history transitioning from comic panels to the small screen, “Powers,” is finally here courtesy of the PlayStation Network.
Originally at FX, “Powers” cast Jason Patric as its lead and even shot a pilot episode. But the network wasn’t happy with the results, and after announcing plans to recast and reshoot the pilot, the FX network eventually passed on the series. Not long after, Powers moved to the upstart PlayStation Network, where this week it became the network’s first episodic series. The result? A mess of epic proportions.
“Powers” centers on Detective Christian Walker (Sharlto Copley) of the homicide department’s Powers Division, a law enforcement branch dedicated to bringing super-powered criminals to justice. Thanks to some clunky exposition – delivered for some reason by Extra‘s Mario Lopez – we learn that Walker was formerly known as a superhero named Diamond who tragically lost his powers (we later learn that he was actually stripped of his powers by the villain Wolfe, played by Eddie Izzard).
Walker doesn’t like to talk much about his past, but that’s where his new rookie partner Deena Pilgrim (Susan Heyward) comes in. She serves as our main exposition delivery system, asking all the relevant questions on behalf of us mere mortals. Thanks to Pilgrim, we learn about Walker’s other nemesis Johnny Royalle (Noah Taylor), and the “wannabes,” a group of society comprised of kids who lust for powers, but have none.
In the pilot episode, the detectives are investigating the death of superhero Olympia, who was found with a cowering teenage girl, Calista (Olesya Rulin), in his bathroom dressed as superhero Retro Girl. But as is typical in these things, there’s more to Calista than meets the eye.
We also learn that the real Retro Girl (Michelle Forbes) used to date Walker, and that Wolfe, is now in prison and may or may not have killed someone named Royalle, who might be the only thin-mustached bad guy of the series.
Anywho, the show failed for me mainly because of the visual effects, which are the show’s most obvious and apparent flaw. I guess its understandable, it is after all a tv show and the budget must reflect that.
But the special effects are still underwhelming when compared to other superhero-based adventure shows like “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”. And even though I love that show, I’ll be the first to admit the visual/special effects suck.
The Costume and set designs in “Powers” are also lackluster, and don’t show much imagination. Basically, it looks like everyone in town is getting ready for Halloween. There is nothing super about any of the heroes or villains in “Powers.”
The one aspect of the show I did enjoy was the cast. Even though Sharlto Copley and Susan Heyward don’t look like their comic book counterparts, both were great in the roles. Susan Heyward in particularly surprised me, because I thought she was just like the Pilgrim character from the comics. She’s funny at times, and is responsible for most of the comedy in the episode. Pilgrim is also tough when she needs to be, but most importantly of all: She doesn’t put up with Walker’s bullshit.
I was a huge fan of the Powers comic by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming back in the day. In fact, it’s the only work by Brian Michael Bendis that hasn’t made want to throw a brick through a window. The early issues of the book’s Image run are still some of my favorites, particularly the one guest-starring Warren Ellis.
The series has unlimited potential as a tv show, but the Playstation pilot jams in too much information into the first episode. If you haven’t read any of the comics, you’re probably scratching your head at what’s going on. But before you can get any answers, another batch of characters is introduced to further confuse you.
Then there’s the visual and special effects. Either the budget needs to go up dramatically, or the show runners must limits the super heroics to one or two shots per episode. If the producers can clean some of this stuff up, the sky is the limit on “Powers.”