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Will Powers Be a Hit For FX?

I should begin this article by admitting I'm not an expert on Powers.  I'm not an expert on any comic actually, this being only the third series I have ventured into.  But since starting the first issue about a week ago, I haven't been able to stop.  Now I'm as excited as any fan to start seeing promos featuring caped figure's in chalk outlines.  Though that won't be happening for awhile, if ever, as the series has yet to be greenlit past a pilot, and if it is picked up would likely be looking at a mid-2012 premiere date.  Though with the news that FX President John Landgraf has enjoyed what he has seen so far of the pilot(that finished shooting earlier this month), there is a good chance Powers will be finding its way onto television screens.  Which has me wondering if the series will be able to capture the appeal of its source material.

At first the concept of Powers didn't sound all that enticing to me; especially as a television series.  The comics tell the tale of two homicide detectives who face the usual crime that comes with any big city, but with one small difference: they also share their jurisdiction with all manner of superheroes and villains.  A police procedural with fantastical elements; NBC just had two of those this pilot season(Grimm that will be airing in this fall, and 17th Precinct which wasn't picked up).  Needless to say, it was a concept I had heard before, and even knowing the comic had over ten years on these new shows didn't make me any more open to the idea.  It was once I stopped judging a book by it's cover that I realized Powers had a very unique story to tell, that was set in an enthralling universe.  And as luck would have it, FX seems intent on staying true to that story.

Landgraf has said that with Powers, FX will be trying to recapture the gritty atmosphere of their acclaimed cop drama, The Shield, as well as films like Seven.  Which is good to hear, as a fun, superhero-fueled romp just wouldn't be in line with [what I've seen of] the comic; and has already over-saturated the movie industry.  I'm inclined to believe the network's promise of a hard-boiled detective tale, especially since Charles H. Eglee was brought in to write the adaption, after having produced and written for none other than The Shield.  Chicago was also an excellent choice for shooting the pilot and should match the dreariness in the fictional city of Powers.  I am anxious about one thing however: will there be any room in all that bleak realism for the humor that endeared me to the series in only a few pages?

Any great drama has to have its fair share of comic relief, and just as important is ensuring that the comedy matches the tone of the show.  The laughs that can be found in the pages of Powers remind me quite a bit of The Wire's unique brand of humor; in that it comes off very naturally.  Characters are funny in the way that your friends, family and coworkers are.  They aren't the most eloquent, they aren't adverse to foul language, and they can make you laugh just as hard as any sitcom character, if only in much smaller doses.  Hopefully Eglee's version will be maintaining the quick-witted comebacks of characters like Deena, and the off-the-wall musings of Calista, that made Brian Michael Bendis' original such an enjoyable read.  So long as he made room for the hilarious dialogue that pervades the comics, but also didn't ham it up, than the scripts should be fine.  But all the great writing in the world won't make a line funny -or moving for that matter- if the cast can't deliver it with conviction.  So let's take a closer look at who will be playing the comic's beloved characters and see if they are right for their roles; while keeping in mind that nothing is set in stone at this point in the production.

Though Kyle Chandler had been courted by FX for the lead role of Christian Walker, Jason Patrick ended up with the gig.  And from the production photo above(which comes from the pilot), he seems to fit the role nicely.  No one will be getting away with calling him “big guy” though.  It took all of two panels for me to be convinced that Katee Sackhoff is the only actress that would be right for the role of Deena Pilgrim.  And though she herself campaigned to play the loudmouth character, it was not to be.  Instead, British actress, Lucy Punch(great name) will try to make me forget about the possibility of watching Starbuck take down super-villains.  Punch has mainly worked in comedy, but as I've already discussed, her character is going to need a good sense of humor, so that background may work in her favor.

Bailee Madison seems a little too cute for the wisecracking remarks we get from Calista.  Although if she can pull them off, they will all the funnier for coming from such an innocent looking source.  The most you can hope for with child actors is experience, and she does have that.  Though not nearly as much as veteran of the big and small screen, Charles S. Dutton, who had the honor of being the first actor cast for the pilot.  As Captain Cross, Dutton's character will be running the homicide department in which the detectives work.  Though I enjoyed the stereotypical take on a police captain in the comics, for television he will need to be retooled slightly to avoid coming off as contrived.

Considering the first time we see her character she is laid out on asphalt, the choice for the role of Retro Girl isn't as important as the other characters. Though Carly Foulkes does obviously fall short in that one cosmetic area, the model turned actress best known as the “T-Mobile Girl” should do fine – so long as they don't find a Sprint phone on her corpse.  Alona Tal will have a “livelier” role, and should do well as the egotheistic super-heroine, Zora. Her stint on Supernatural prepared her to play a powerful woman and a bit of a bad-ass; not to mention those two years the actress spent in the Israeli armed forces.

Titus Welliver taking on the role of the super-suit wearing Triphammer should make a few Lost fans happy(or fans of Deadwood like me).  Though it is hard to say how integral his character will be in the series, given how his story in the comics, hopefully we will be seeing a lot of Mr. Welliver, as he is one of the actors I'm most excited for.  On the other hand, Vinnie Jones seems like an odd choice for Johnny Royalle, if only because I can't see him pulling off Royalle's trademark, “baby.”  Jones is certainly familiar with playing a villain, I'm just not sure he can play this one and make it any different than all his former evil incarnations.

For FX to ensure that Powers is a good show they really only have to do one thing: stay true to the source material.  Which is what you always hear when an adaption is in the works, but that doesn't make it any less true in this case.  For now fans of the series and TV viewers alike will just have to wait and see if the network known for edgy content can provide the acclaimed comic with a retelling worthy of its name.


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