(Playstation Original Series, 2015)
Starring: Sharlto Copley – Eddie Izzard
What does it feel like to be powerless ? This question is the main focus of the pilot episode of Playstation’s new super hero series Powers. Based on the long running comic series of the same name by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Oeming, this is a fun, interesting series debut, that has something intriguing for everyone within the rated R/MA spectrum, though it is not without it’s hiccups.
Powers focuses on Christian Walker an ex super hero (referred to as “powers”) that is now a regular cop in a under founded police division whose sole purpose is to control and work cases involving powers. Christian is a brooding, dry, sulking ex power who battles inner turmoil surrounding losing his powers to Wolfe (portrayed by Eddie Izzard) while working a case involving the death of an aged power. Deena Pilgrim is assigned as Christian’s new partner after the particular brutal opening sequence death of his old partner, an assignment that he isn’t adjusting to very well. As the two try to deal with each other their investigation takes them into a world where super heroes are rock stars, complete with tag alongs, groupies and wannabes. Where a fight between two powers can erupt at any moment and fill the sky with flashes and sonic booms. This is a universe where the powers look down on those not gifted and the wannabes drool and idolize those gifted enough to not be plain,normal folk. The young upcoming powers are lazy, spotlight hungry, millenials who don’t care about anything unless they become famous while the old powers are just trying to hang on and stay in the spotlight.
Copley as Christian Walker, puts forth a great performance, his dry demeanor leaves you slightly annoyed even though he is the main character, very well acted. His flashbacks and pains all matched with the rubbing of the giant scar on his back and neck brings the viewing into his world and helps understand the characters pain. For me, with very little screen time compared to the rest of the cast, Eddie Izzard is the stand out of this episode. Simply named Wolfe, he is tied down in a max security prison and lobotomized daily, he performs splendidly as a man slowly regaining his wits and apparent conniving nature. He stammers and mumbles trying to come to his senses, building to the eventual realization of who he is and the anger that explodes after. Wolfe seems like a layered,complex, widely feared super villain with an apparent affinity for eating people and powers. With just the five minutes or so the two share on screen, Copley and Izzard play off each other and give the viewer a front row seat into what seems to be a very complicated,possible mentor/student relationship. The comedic relief spot goes to the medical examiner, a man who just can’t seem to handle super powers in the same world as his beloved science. With a part that seems to have future implications, Logan browning gives a memorable performance as ‘Zora’, a power whom you can’t seem to figure out which side she is playing for.
My issues with this show all stem from the over sharing of everything within the first episode and the changes from the source material. Gone is the mystery of who Christian Walker once was, gone is the comics murder mystery story line, replaced with an over share of information and lack of mystery and a few forced moments. Within the first ten minutes you’ll feel like you know the whole backstory, by the end of the episode you actually will. I would have liked a bit of a draw out to certain things, a pay off that is built up and that I wait for. It seems the creative team is setting out for more of an action, shock, in your face approach instead of the crime noir the comics provide. The coarse language seems forced in some parts, much like some scenes and situations it almost seems pushed in for shock value. That being said, it really just comes down to personal preference and doesn’t make the show unwatchable by any means.
After being stuck in production limbo on FX, sony finally pushed the series through to be the first on playstation, a move that cuts out any viewership not in possession of the right hardware. Over all this show is worth watching if you have access to playstation network, hopefully it gets some form of home media release for those without. With Izzard and Copley’s performance, advancement of the story line and growth of the supporting cast, this show could be a real winner. Fans of the comic, be warned, there are noticeable changes here that may make some purists angry. For those with no prior knowledge of the comics and who are looking for a take on the “super powers in the real world” genre , a mix of watchmen meets gritty cop drama, give this show a chance. For those without playstation, “what does it feel like to be powerless?”