Warning: This discussion will contain major spoilers for the first season of the PlayStation TV show Powers.
Dan: Now that PlayStation’s exclusive TV show, Powers, has finally wrapped up its first season, I almost feel like the show was used to test the waters of the market, more than be a true entry into a new genre for the publisher. I say this for a few reasons. First of all, if you really look at the advertising for the show, there really doesn’t seem to be much, if any, attention to actually capture an audience outside of PSN. There does seem to be at least one commercial online, but outside of having to look for it, none of the show’s advertising has ever crossed my path. The original E3 presentation was a great way to get the word out about Powers, but that was almost a year ago, and if it wasn’t for word of mouth, I would have forgotten about the show.
The second thing has to do with the quality of the show as a whole. I found myself wanting to enjoy Powers, but there just seems to be a number of issues with it that really makes it difficult. The biggest one for me has to be the majority of the cast and its writing. Sharlto Copley, who plays the series protagonist Christian Walker, does a decent job in his role, but always seems to be forced to overact to force the viewer to understand the situation. This is mainly due to the show’s villains being underdeveloped and never giving you more than the ‘he’s bad, so fear him’ mentality, something that is only exemplified by the show’s main villain spending the majority of the show behind bars.
The other issue being that there is an over reliance on a younger set of actors who don’t seem to be up to the challenge of having to work in a truly fictional environment. The character of Calista Secor is by far the most annoying, as her role in the show is to be the naive young girl who is looking become something special. But, she does nothing to get the audience to empathize with her as she bounces between bad decisions, making her little more than a vapid plot point to drive a mundane storyline.
Finally, the idea that the show ends with Calista having killed Retro Girl for her powers, after having gained Wolfe’s powers before his death, now removes two seasoned actors from the show, and pins a second season on a character that is poorly written and acted.
With the show having failed to really captivate me as a viewer, I think it would have done a better job if they had released the whole season at once, much like Netflix does with their exclusives. This would have created less of a dependence on each episode actually establishing itself, and let the whole show stand together. There does seem to be some potential behind Powers, but with the direction things have been going, I don’t know if I can make it through another season like this one.
Chandler: I took it upon myself to write a review for each episode as they released over the last two months. Doing an in-depth examination of each episode gave me a deep look at everything that was truly wrong with the show. Bad acting, poorly written characters and narrative, and cheap effects are just the tip of the iceberg.
Dan, you brought up a great point about this being a vehicle to test the waters for the market of exclusive shows under the PlayStation brand. I mean, Netflix has them, HBO has them, Amazon has them, so PlayStation felt that their infrastructure was a perfect one to introduce the same kind of exclusive element. But Powers is no House of Cards. Powers is no Daredevil. Powers is no Bosch. Powers is no Game of Thrones. Exclusives are supposed to unchain the limits that get placed on network or syndicated television and allow freedom from time restraints, narrative restrictions, and generally creating vastly better shows than we would see from a network.
PlayStation may have been able to get away with the cheaply written and produced if they were one of the first to jump into creating an exclusive that could not be seen anywhere else, however, the market has already been proven by Netflix, Amazon, and others who have handled it far better with multiple shows, some of which are exceeding three seasons. Even in their infancy, these shows had fantastic writing with great stories and character development. Ever watched House of Cards or Daredevil? These shows have more cultivated character emotions and relationships in just a few episodes, that Powers failed to achieve in a whole season.
Powers feels more like they put some story beats up onto a board and threw darts to see what they would incorporate into the show. Then, instead of actually weaving together the narrative to a beautiful tapestry of character relationships and motivations in a series of naturally occurring events that don’t require an inordinate amount of coincidences or conveniences to press the story forward, they just pieced it together however they could, whether it worked naturally or not.
If Sony had failed to fully realize only one portion of their exclusive, whether it be advertising, production value, or writing, Powers may have had a chance in the busy waters of excellent exclusive titles. However, Powers failed on many fronts, and I can’t help but feel that it really missed its chance to make a mark. If and when there is a second season, even if it hits Plus, it will be hard for me to justify taking the time to watch it.
What did you think of the Powers TV show? Should they continue on with a second season? Feel free to exert your power of free will by messaging us on Twitter @Foolsjoker and @FinchStrife, email us at [email protected], and of course, join in the discussion in the comments below.