Review: Powers TV Series

powers promoI just got done watching the Playstation Network series ‘Powers’. If you don’t already know, the show takes place in a world where superheroes are a thing. Yes, people are born with powers and take to the air fighting crime or committing crime depending on where their moral compass points. In this world, superheroes fight not just for truth and justice but also for a slice of the pie called fame. The series follows a former hero turned cop who works for the Powers division of the police which are in charge of arresting powered individuals. He no longer has his powers, he no longer has his fame, but you know what does have? Er… uh… a semi-decent American accent?

Let me flat out say this about the show. ‘Powers’ is not worth getting the Playstation Network solely for. However, since it is now eighteen bucks on Amazon, I would recommend you picking it up if you like unique superhero settings. Because if anything, that is the strongest selling point of the show – the setting is great. They nail the setting. A+ and 10/10.

You see, unlike most superhero shows and cartoons that we’ve grown up with, this series asks the question of “hey, what about the people that were in that building that superhero just slammed into?” It looks at the grittiness of a world where a person can literally be an atomic bomb. How does this world function? How does it survive?

Not only that, but I love the idea that they hammer (sometimes a little too much…) into our heads about the fame of superheroics. Hey, guess what doesn’t really pay the bills? Being a vigilante might be great for justice but heroes don’t fill out a time card and get paid for it. In ‘Powers’, it explores how every hero is out trying to do two things; first, save the day and second, trying to get enough fame so they can get money from branding. The series explores the cutthroat nature of marketing, sexism in advertising, and some of the sadness from fan culture.

‘Powers’ reminds me of Mutant City Blues. It’s a cop procedural that just happens to take place in a world where spandex isn’t just for conventions anymore.

Now, I suppose I should give you the negatives of the show. I’m a generous god.

The acting isn’t bad but that isn’t to say it is good. We do see some really solid performances from Michelle Forbes (Retro Girl), Eddie Izzard (Wolfe), and Susan Heyward (Detective Pilgrim). However. I can’t help but feel that the Sharlto Copey (ex-hero turned cop, Christian Walker) and Noah Tayler (Johnny Royale, teleporting rogue) are focusing more on their American accents than they are about ‘motivation’. Again, it’s a decent job but they just don’t land their punches like the rest.

The superheroic story that unfolds during the series is clever enough but I found myself wanting them to go back to just the setting around them. I didn’t really want the meta-plot that involve superpowered prisons and a super dangerous mutant. No, I wanted to see more of cops arresting bad guys who just happened to be able to spit poison at their faces. The main plot is fine. It kept me interested. Yet, in the end, I was hoping for them to explore the world around them rather than the story unfolding.

So! Do I like ‘Powers’? Yes. I am excited that they’re going to be getting a season two. I just hope that in season two, they try a more ‘crime of the week’ approach rather than building episode after episode into a huge arc. “Powers’ is doing something unique with their setting, and I think if they embrace that uniqueness, it has a shot at being something that is remembered.

Oh! I should probably mention… the CGI is Tron-level bad.

But I sort of dig that. Weird!

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About the Author
Billy started out his roots like many roleplayers - D&D. Playing it and then Vampire all through highschool and college, Billy picked it all up again when he made the move from Michigan to New York. Now working in publishing, Billy does what he can to view roleplaying games through a narrative's lens. Does that sound classy as balls? It should.

5 comments on “Review: Powers TV Series

  1. Lucek says:

    Wait when did PSN start making shows?

  2. Barsha Da Barsha says:

    I dunno. El Nino, man.

  3. Warren says:

    Thanks for the review. I’ve been wondering how that went (seeing as they cut Canada out of the release) Imtotallynotbitter.

    The comics focus more on the story of the people, rather than the setting, so I think they’re likely to stay on that track for the show.

    The accent, especially for Walker, seems silly. Unless the badness is intentional, like Jack Sparrow.

  4. Fabian says:

    Hey, guys. Returning from a hiatus to comment here. I saw two episodes of this show and found it very aggravating. The world building was clumsily done and occupied a large part of each episode. I especially hate how superhumans are called “powers” which also happens to describe what they have. So, “I’m a Power, I have powers,” is a sentence that could theoretically be said in this universe.

    If they wanted a mature take on superhumans then there surely has to be a better way. Something with the edge but without as much exposition crammed into our faces and blatant PSN self-promotion.

  5. Barsher D Barsher says:

    Holy crap, it’s Fabian! Welcome back.

    Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy the show. It isn’t the best, but I ended up enjoying it in the end. The first couple episodes are certainly rough. Really, I didn’t really start getting invested until they introduced the tech-based hero.

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