Powers: Season 1 Review

It may be part of an experiment, but that doesn’t take away the fact that Powers is a well-produced and entertaining TV series that has a lot of potential.

At first sight, the most surprising fact about Powers is that it came out exclusively for PlayStation Plus subscribers, but I think there’s more to it than that. With Powers, Sony’s testing the waters for its paid service and while up to now PlayStation Plus has mainly focused on releasing free games and exclusive discounts, maybe the service can eventually mutate into a Netflix competitor. It’s too early to tell, but those with a Plus subscription shouldn’t read too much into it and enjoy Powers. It may be part of an experiment, but that doesn’t take away the fact that this is a well-produced and entertaining TV series that has a lot of potential.

Based on a DC Comics series of the same name, Powers is set in a world where a Los Angeles Powers Division, led by a former superhero, catches criminals that have special powers and use them for evil. The story follows the team leader of that police unit Christian Walker as he struggles with the fact that a villain has stolen his powers and that to be able to capture dangerous criminals, he has to use conventional means. As the story progresses we meet many other characters, including Christian’s inexperienced female partner, a love interest, a former friend turned criminal who can use teletransportation to travel to any place and a bunch of Wannabes (people who want powers but don’t have any.)

Christian, who has been deprived of his powers by a criminal named Wolf, is after a former friend who can travel to any place just by thinking about it. The detective is constantly facing danger and trying to save people as a regular human being, fighting people with one of the most incredible abilities you can imagine and, as someone who used to be able to perform some truly amazing feats, Walker needs reconcile with the fact that he isn’t a Power anymore. Easier said than done. Apart from that, a new officer has been transferred to his unit and has requested to be her partner, but she’s young and reckless, a dangerous combination in the world of Powers.

Some of the actors you may recognize from other movies and TV series and this proves that PlayStation was interested in making a quality product right from the get go. Some of these actors include Sharlto Copley (District 9,) Adam Godley (The X-Files: I Want to Believe, Breaking Bad,) Michelle Forbes (Star Trek: The Next Generation,) and Eddie Izzard (Ocean’s Twelve, Valkyrie,) among many others. Another aspect where Powers really shine is its solid special effects that while not amazing, they are convincing enough.

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As you would expect from a TV series produced by PlayStation (a Sony division,) the Sony brand is omnipresent and its inclusion feels forced and distracting. Everyone in Powers uses VAIO laptops, BRAVIA televisions, Ericsson phones, PlayStation 4 consoles and other products from the Sony family. At times, this so apparent that it feels like Powers is a way of promoting Sony products rather than being an entertaining mystery series with science-fiction elements.

In the end, Powers is a series with a compelling universe and captivating characters, but I can’t help but feeling that it never reaches its full potential. I kept expecting for a reveal or something that kept me interested for the inevitable second season and while some of the events that transpire in the final episodes definitely piqued my interest, I never felt impressed in the way that I was expecting. Powers is off to a good start, but I hope the second season raises the bar exponentially.