Since its debut in 1994, the name PlayStation has become synonymous with video games. No shit, right? But did you know that its original incarnation became the first console to sell 100 million units, or that the second-gen PS2 is to this day still the best-selling home console ever? How about that today’s PS4 has been outselling its rivals nearly every month since its introduction? Boom. Facts. PlayStation doesn’t seem like they’ll stop reinventing themselves anytime soon either. It’s looking to extend the brand beyond gaming and into original programming with the premiere of Powers through its PlayStation Network this December.
Netflix has had the most success at the streaming game, racking up forty-five total Emmy noms in 2013 and 2014. Even Microsoft dove into the original programming biz, but closed the Xbox Entertainment Studios earlier this year. (Don’t worry, the Halo TV series will continue). Sony PlayStation’s first foray into the streaming market, Powers is a street-level look at the world of superheroes through the eyes of two detectives. Think The French Connection set in the Avengers world.
Based on the comic book of the same name, it places superhumans alongside everyday, normal Joes like you and me. The narrative follows Detective Christian Walker (Sharlto Copley of District 9) as a former superhuman who becomes a detective after losing his abilities. He’s teamed up with Deena Pilgrim (Susan Heyward of The Following), a hard-nosed cop who isn’t impressed by people who can fly or bend steel with their bare hands. Our guess, she’s actually taken aback by long walks on the beach and reruns of Dallas. The two detectives investigate homicides of people with extraordinary abilities, or “powers,” as they’re known on the crime beat.
Given that the one-hour drama doesn’t have to contend with network restrictions on language or sexual content that shows like Fox’s Gotham faces, Powers has a chance to explore a different kind of superhero storyline. And from what co-creator Brian Michael Bendis told audience members at New York Comic Con, it sounds like they’ll do just that – stray from the book. He and co-creator Michael Avon Oeming, “never wanted a word-for-word adaptation. We want it to examine things in its own way.”
The released trailer at New York Comic Con looks gritty, dark, and sets a tone worth watching. It doesn’t look like the show, produced by Sony Pictures TV, cut any budgetary corners as well. Considering the amount of money made on video games, it seems only fitting that accounting would send a ton of dollars towards an original programming debut.
One of the bigger deviations from the comic book story we noticed in the teaser is the fact that Walker’s past as a superhuman now seems to be common knowledge among his fellow cops. And according to Bendis, “Walker knows all about ‘powers,’ but [is]not a great cop.” Pilgrim will look to show him what it takes to be a real detective.
Oddly enough, premiering on the PlayStation Network wasn’t even an option when the Powers comic was originally optioned by Sony back in 2001. FX started developing the show in 2009, and two years later shot a pilot starring Jason Patric as Walker and Lucy Punch as Pilgrim. After reshoots, recasting, and basically starting over from scratch, the show was ultimately dropped by FX in 2012. Despite the obstacles, Sony pushed forward with Bendis and Oeming, and added showrunners Remi Aubuchon and Charlie Huston to the team. “The whole time we were developing it at other places, it was nice and the cast was great, but there was something a little off,” says Bendis, adding that the series will be “feisty and rated R, sometimes a hard R.”
This pilot was directed by David Slade (Hannibal) with cinematography by John Lynch (Fast Girls). In addition to Copley and Heyward playing the leads, cast members include Eddie Izzard (The Riches), Logan Browning (Hit the Floor), Olesya Rulin (Greek), and Noah Taylor (Game of Thrones).
Powers has a ten episode order for December, with the first episode available for free to everyone (even if you don’t have a PlayStation). The rest will be available for streaming or download exclusively on the PlayStation Network. Internationally, Sony Pictures TV will sell the rights to broadcasters.