Posted By Leo Reyna on March 10, 2015
Image source: Sony.
Powers. Powers, Powers. Powers, Powers, Powers Powers, Powers. Oh, forgive me for the repetition. After watching the pilot episode of Powers and hearing that word uttered a million times, it’s hard to get it out of my head. It’s also the only impression the show had on me. Not a great start for a show based on the comic series by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming.
What’s the premise? Well, Powers takes place in a world where superheroes (and supervillains) are everywhere, but don’t act as heroic as the family-friendly comic books we grew up on. Sorta like Watchmen. Superheroes aren’t called superheroes in this world, they’re called… Powers! And when these super-powered beings run amok, it’s up to a special homicide police division to lock ‘em up and throw away the key. Problem is that the police department called… Powers are only successful in dealing with low-level Powers and the government pretends they don’t exist, leading to lack of funds and ridicule from the public.
Christian Walker (Sharlto Copley) is a homicide detective at Powers and he’s good at his job, because he use to be a Power himself. The show constantly references his former life as the superhero named Diamond and how miserable his life as a normal cop is now. Episode one, simply titled “Pilot,” begins with Walker’s partner getting killed on the job and having to get acquainted with his replacement, Deena Pilgrim (Susan Heyward). There’s also a mysterious drug being passed around that amplifies a Powers’… powers, which leads to the death of a superhero named Olympia. Present during Olympia’s death is a “wannabe” homeless girl named Calista (Olesya Rulin), who had sex with the old hero to temporarily gain some of his super powers, believing it would awaken her own.
There’s a lot to say about Powers, but unfortunately not much is good. The show lacks subtlety. Not wasting a second to hammer in how pathetic Walker is without his powers in the most melodramatic way possible. The world is supposed to be gritty and real, but the characters are either one-dimensional or cartoonish.
A supervillain that appears later in the pilot, Johnny Royalle (Noah Taylor), makes a ridiculous “pop” sound, when using his power to travel anywhere. It’s even more ridiculous when he uses that power to decapitate someone; making a shocking and horrific moment look laughably bad. The head itself fails to look like anything else but a prop. The budget for this show doesn’t seem high, with constant green screen backgrounds and Made-for-TV special effects. No matter how many faux CSI transitions this show pulls, it can’t hide how weak its productions are. The price for being online-produced, I suppose.
Episode one of Powers suffers from inconsistent tones; trying to be serious during goofy circumstances. Characters are artificial in personality and the chemistry between Walker and Pilgrim is nonexistent. The best I can say for Powers is that the premise of a police department investigating superhero-related murders is an interesting one. Copley’s performance as Walker is also engaging to watch, even during exaggerated bits. The scene where Walker loses his cool trying to open the door to his car, while Pilgrim questions his past, actually had me on the edge of my seat. Sadly, it didn’t take long for me to scooch right back.
The first episode of Powers is available on YouTube and on PlayStation Plus. The program is intended for mature audiences.