Will Powers Succeed on the PlayStation Network?

Like many other media providers in the ever-changing entertainment landscape, the PlayStation Network is investing in original programming, hoping it will lure new viewers and subscribers, while keeping existing ones, or encouraging them to upgrade to premium services.  Its first stab at a scripted show is Powers, based on the comic book series by Brian Bendis.

I watched the free pilot episode on my PlayStation 3, and while the Network will need more shows to be viewed as a legitimate competitor to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, and the rest, Powers is interesting and entertaining enough to make me want to watch the rest of the season.

Our movie theaters and television channels seem over-saturated with superhero series and super-powered characters, so the premise of Powers doesn't seem as fresh as it may have been when Bendis first created the story back in 2000 -- police deal with crimes involving powered heroes and villains (and those in-between who can't be classified one or the other). Still, it has some impressive world-building plotting to keep me engaged, as well as doses of sex and violence to attract audiences looking for more edgy story-lines than what we saw on Heroes or The 4400 (remember that one?).

We jump right into the action as we see a super-powered bad guy in police custody break loose and kill a homicide detective.  The murdered cop's partner is Christian Walker, the protagonist of our tale, a hard-boiled dick who used to be a well-known hero himself called Diamond, before he lost his powers.  Actor Sharlto Copley is perfect as Walker -- he's gruff with a combustible temper, but we see sadness weighing heavy on his shoulders and on his soul.

Plenty of back-story is thrust upon us, hints of past relationships, both romantic (with Retro Girl played by Michelle Forbes) and more complicated (with "Big Bad" Wolfe -- played with a psycho intensity by Eddie Izzard -- a one-time hero who became a world-wide threat and stole Diamond's powers).

The world is populated by those with powers and those without.  Logan Browning is enticing as Zora, one of the many youngsters suddenly discovering their miraculous gifts, living in their own subculture while glorifying the older heroes and villains, and at times bullying those without powers, especially the "Wanna-Be" kids, like Calista Secor.

Delightfully brought to life by Olesya Rulin, Calista yearns for a taste of the powers she believes will eventually manifest themselves, frustrated that they haven't yet, and putting herself at risk by engaging in dangerous activities that might give her a taste of temporary powers.

If nothing else, Powers made me want to hunt down the graphic novel compilations of the original comics.

The first three episodes are also available on YouTube, so give it a shot.


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