Powers: Review: Series 1 Episode 1: Pilot

Powers key artA world where superheroes exist isn’t a good place for someone who has lost those Powers…

Although I was aware of the set-up and some of the characters in the Powers comic book series, it’s not one that I’d read (a lacuna that I mean to deal with), so, unlike the vast majority of reviewers of this opening episode of the 10-part series that forms Playstation’s first original dramatic show, I’m coming at it purely as a TV superhero series. There’s enough in this opener to bring me back for at least one more instalment, but Powers is competing against some big budget shows, and it’s not really holding its own yet.

The biggest problem is the budget: the fight between the Powers at the start of the hour is incredibly poor, and even the great rescue at the end feels more like a refugee from a 1990s series. That’s a shame because there are some very good ideas on show: the theme, at least of this season as shown in the throwforward, seems to be how Sharlto Copley’s Christian Walker is coping with the loss of his powers now that he longer is the superhero Diamond, and what he might do to get them back.

We know he’s lost his powers because it’s is one of the many things we learn in one hell of an infodump at the start of the episode – along with who his friends and enemies were, and the set-up of the Powers Division, the cops who attempt to police the superpowered. We gain other background detail in a more subtle manner, courtesy of the actions of Calista, a wannabe Power, excellently played by Olesya Rulin, and those she encounters, including the teleporting Johnny Royalle. And behind it all is Eddie Izzard as The Wolfe, whose actions, past and present, haunt Walker. The ex-Power isn’t that sympathetic a lead character – at least at the moment – and his new partner, Susan Heyward’s Deena Pilgrim, is coming across as rather too much of a Powers groupie… although I suspect that will change, given the reality of what’s she’s seeing.

Verdict: There’s some solid world-building going on, and enough diverse characters to pique the interest – but I’ll be very interested to see if it’s been strong enough to create a surge in take-up for Playstation… 6/10

Paul Simpson

 

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