In 2000, writer Brian Michael Bendis (Ultimate Spider-Man) and artist Michael Avon Oeming (B.P.R.D.: The Soul of Venice & Other Stories) combined the police procedural tenets of Law & Order with superhero archetypes for their comic book series Powers. Well, now — after fourteen collected editions and two spin-off collections — things are coming full circle with Powers Season 1 (Blu-ray, DVD), which collects the first season of the superheroic police procedural TV show that originally aired on the PlayStation Network (via PS3, PS3, and Vita). It’s just too bad the show is a pale imitation of the original comic.
Loosely based on the “Groupies” storyline in Volume 3: Little Deaths, as well as the comic series as a whole, Powers Season 1 follows Christian Walker (District 9‘s Sharlto Copley), a former superhero who lost his powers and now works as a Los Angeles homicide detective investigating crimes involving superheroes and supervillians. After one of those super bad guys kills his partner, he has to break in a new one, Deena Pilgrim (Susan Heyward from The Following) on a case in which a superhero named Olympia is found dead in a sleazy motel, while an underage girl — who thought she could get superpowers by having sex with the old guy — hides in the bathroom.
But while the episodes collected on Powers Season 1 are so closely tied to the comics, none of them are as exciting as the original comics. Part of the problem is that while the scripts can get a bit gritty or R-rated, it always seems forced, like it’s trying too hard be provocative.
It also doesn’t help that the scripts in Powers Season 1 aren’t as smart or as tightly written as the original comics. Sure, the one for the episode “Level 13” comes close, but only because it was written by Bendis, and even it isn’t as good as the comics.
Though it doesn’t help the way the scripts are delivered. Olesya Rulin, who plays the aforementioned underage girl, is more irritating than edgy, while it’s tiresome watching the cliché way Copley plays Walker as a cop with issues. Especially when compared to how likeable Heyward is as Deena Pilgrim, or how powerful Michelle Forbes (Battlestar Galactica) comes across as Retro Girl.
All of which explains why, despite loving the comic, I struggled to get through every episode of this show. It’s not terrible, but it’s not that great, either. It’s just kind of there.
Sadly, as lifeless as the episodes collected on Powers Season 1 may be, the same can also be said for the extras. Especially given how most have been left off the DVD version.
For starters, both versions of Powers Season 1 get “Policing The All Powerful: Envisioning And Filming Powers,” a ten minute-long making-of featurette that’s very by-the-numbers. In fact, the only interesting part of it is when the cast and crew talk about how this show has multiple layers, but only because none of that came across in the show itself.
If you buy the DVD version of Powers Season, however, that’s where the extras end. Which is too bad since the collection’s other making-of featurette, “From One Visual Medium To Another: The Art And Adaptation Of Powers,” is far more interesting. Also clocking in around ten minutes, “From One” goes into the origins of the comic series and its connection to the show, and features interviews with both Bendis and Oeming, as well as the cast and crew. Admittedly, “Policing ” and “From One ” really should’ve been combined into a single making-of featurette, but as is, the latter is far less rote than the former.
Powers Season 1 also includes numerous deleted scenes, some of which are rather entertaining. It’s just too bad they’re not given any context, nor any explanation as to why they were cut.
Though having said that, I did appreciate that the Powers Season 1 Blu-ray has the deleted scenes in the section for their respective episodes. Granted, it’s not as cool as what The Simpsons used to do, which was let you watch the episode with the option to watch the cut scenes where they would’ve been in the episode, but it’s still better than having them all collected on the last disc, and out of context, which is what many TV DVDs and Blu-rays do.
Finally, the Powers Season 1 Blu-ray includes two minutes of the actors screwing up and goofing around. It’s nothing we haven’t seen a million times before, and yet it’s also always funny.
In the end, everything on the Powers Season 1 Blu-ray and DVD is just kind of blah. It’s not terrible, or terribly made, but it’s not all that fun to watch, and certainly not as invigorating as the often excellent comic book that inspired it. Ah well.