Powers S1E1 - Pilot

Old nerds are living in a bit of a golden age right now when it comes to superheroes. Comics we read ten years ago, twenty years ago, or even thirty years ago are being used as the basis of movies and TV shows. And a lot of the time, unless Zach Snyder or Roberto Orci are involved, they don't suck.

The superhero TV show, in fact, has reached a point where they can start in on the independent comics of the early millennium, complete with all the swears and sex and organ removal. Hellblazer got an NBC show that sorta kinda looked like Hellblazer if you squinted - you could tell they were trying, at least. Preacher's been in and out of development hell so many times that I'll believe Seth Rogen and AMC's latest attempt is real when the third episode premieres. And this week we got Powers.

Oh, Powers. Powers is a title rich in personal history, from my own Third Age of Paying Attention to Comic Books. The first age was, of course, childhood and was mostly Marvel. The second age was late college and early post-college, and was a lot of Vertigo and Dark Horse and a bit of Spawn. The fourth age (present) is the occasional well-written title on my iPad, like Hawkguy or Brian Posehn's Deadpool run.

But the third age... the third age had its epicenter in Warren Ellis, his comics and his Internet forum and those heady days when making your own thing instead of being the latest guy to write Iron Man WAS IMPORTANT. Deciding things like that were IMPORTANT is young nerd stuff. And I read a lot of good comics during that time, and one of those comics was Powers.

I don't remember much of it, of course. I remember the tone, I remember some of the characters, I remember the basic premise - former superhero turned superhero-policing detective. I don't know if I even got around to finishing it. I'm sure there are some trades buried in the living room somewhere. But that's OK, because now it's a TV show sort of because you can only watch it on your Playstation and it's not free unless you have a PS Plus membership but still. I have those things.

Sony's taking a middle road with Powers, not going the "put a whole nine episode season up at once" route of Netflix, but not going one episode a week like regular television. Three episodes are up now, more will be available on the 17th. Which is fine. Scraping up three hours a week to watch Powers is going to be tough as it is.

So far, I've only watched the pilot, and it's a very good pilot. It's a pilot, which means exposition. It's a superhero show on TV, which means a limited effects budget. But it's easy to ignore those things when you've got a compelling setting, which Powers does, interesting characters, which it sort of has, and good actors, which it's rife with.

Bonus points go to Susan Heyward as Deena Pilgrim, who takes what, especially in the pilot, is essentially a series of "explain THIS to me now!" questions and somehow turns them into something you can't keep your eyes off of. And then there's Eddie Izzard, who doesn't have a lot to do in the pilot as imprisoned ubervillain Wolfe, but lets you know very quickly that when he gets to do more, watch the fuck out.

Another thing I like - the show takes advantage of the freedom it has for swearing, violence, and sex without seeming exploitative, or that slightly lesser level of exploitative that Game of Thrones gets away with. There were opportunities to be gratuitous in the pilot and the pilot side-stepped them, so good for them.

One thing I'm gonna like to do here when I review stuff is talk about other people reviewing stuff, especially AV Club, who fancy themselves critics and who thus got annoyed at the exposition and also at Sharlton Copley's accent. Which is fine if you're devoting your full attention to something so you can deem its worthiness as Art, but if you're just watching a TV show, you won't really notice.

Which is not to say there's no place for critical faculties in entertainment, of course, it's just that when you're getting most of what you want out of something, letting yourself get hung up on an accent is just robbing yourself of happiness for no good reason.

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What the...

I log on to read your latest "Wow, look at this kale I just bought" post and this is what I get?

But I kid. Yes, Powers was quite good and it joins the rapidly growing list of quality super hero shows. I'm still amazed that Arrow and SHIELD managed to get their acts together considering how slowly they both started. Even more surprising is that Flash was good right out of the gate. Let's see how Daredevil does.

Daredevil Etc

The Daredevil trailer looks right to me. Sort of a Frank Miller vibe, but without Frank Miller excess, which would be a good thing.

And then there's that insane team show the WB's putting together as an Arrow/Flash spinoff, which sounds insane. Like actual insanity.

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