The POWERS TV Show… Still in Development

Has it really been 18 months since Brian Michael Bendis announced that Powers was in development over at FX?

Wow. Time really is flying. It seems like only yesterday…

Hey, let's not dwell on my issues! Let's get back to the possible Powers TV show.

Anyone who knows anything about Hollywood knows that 18 months isn't all that long for a show to be in development, especially one as complex as Powers. Hell, in a former life I was briefly involved in TV development and I'm surprised when anything gets made in a timely manner. Of course, contrast Powers with The Walking Dead, which seemed to be announced and then shot and scheduled all in the same month. (Obviously, that's an exaggeration, it just happened unusually fast for these kind of things.)

So why did The Walking Dead come together so quickly and we're still waiting to hear any scraps of news about Powers?

Over at Premium Hollywood, intrepid reporter Will Harris has been doing the leg work. Every six months since the initial development announcement, Harris has checked in with John Landgraf, President and General Manager of FX, on Powers' status. A year ago, Landgraf said that they had read a script they liked and had given notes on it. Six months ago Landgraf told Harris that they had hired Kevin Falls (Journeyman) to work with Bendis on developing the show. So what did we learn this week? Not much. It's still being worked on. They're still having meetings. That's not all that unusual, but I found this quote rather telling:

From our standpoint, we don’t feel that the world of costumed superheroes on television has been very successful. Not only hasn’t it been that successful from a commercial standpoint, but more importantly to us, it hasn’t been that successful from a creative standpoint. Part of what you have to figure out is how to use the medium. If you’re making a Marvel movie, you have a $150 or $200 million budget, you can do massive stunts, and use CGI to create a big, bombastic, larger-than-life version of the world. How do we bring the same level of innovation to the genre that ‘The Shield’ brought to the cop genre, or that ‘Nip/Tuck’ brought to the medical genre, and how do make the sort of scale and production of television an asset? I think what most people who’ve gone down that road have done is tried on a limited amount of time and budget to do as close to what a feature film would do with the material as possible, as opposed to really honing in on the virtues of television, and I think ‘Powers’ is a uniquely good property to do that with, actually.

Now, Landgraf also says that in his seven years at FX there has only been one drama pilot that hasn't made it to series and that they area really commited to making Powers work, but it sure seems like they are wrestling to make a show that features super heroes work with FX's notoriously tight budgets.

Landgraf makes a great point about super hero shows on television. The 10 year proliferation of big budget super hero movies has really hurt the super hero television show. In the past you could get away with less, in terms of SFX and action, on a television show because the audience had nothing to compare it to. Now with all of these summer movies with monstrous budgets, the audience can react (overly and unfairly) harshly to shows like Smalliville or Heroes who can't afford to put on gigantic SFX spectacles every week. We see the complaints all the time in the lliveblogs here on iFanboy. The super hero line is a fine one to walk and I can see why FX is being so careful with Powers. But if any subject matter was tailer made for a lower budget, serialized television format, it's Powers and its cops who investigate super hero crimes. It's just funny that Powers got lapped by The Walking Dead.

You know, because zombies move so slow and all.



  1. Remember how the Tick live action show handled it. Standing around talking in an apartment, and sitting around talking in a diner. Rarely were they able to pay for action scenes. It was almost always off screen. 

  2. The harsh reaction to Heroes (at least post-season one) was not unfair in the slightest. It could’ve been awesome, but the writing started circling the drain and quickly went down it.

  3. @thinsafetypin: Not at all what I was talking about. I was talking about the special effects.

  4. My question is do people REALLY care so long as the stories are really good? I mean, yeah. Good effects go a long way. But who cares so long as the story is captivating and engaging and thrilling? Modern special effects are good enough that people can go with them, especially on a TV budget. Even the cheap stuff still looks better than most things produced just five years ago.

    Heroes had whole other things to worry about. It was a lot about a HUGE cast of principles and filming on a schedule that was longer than most average shows on television. That level of budget looseness wouldn’t fly on F/X.

  5. @GungaDin: As someone who hosted a liveblog for 90% of HEROES episode I can tell you that, yes, people seem to care/complain/not understand the limitations of a TV budget.

    And not just for HEROES but also SMALLVILLE and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA.

  6. @Conor Fair point, but do you think said people are actively turning the show off because of budget limitations? Like, turning off and not coming back? I wouldn’t thinka budget would necessarily make or break a show. I mean, I’m sure there are people for whom that’s true, but there are probably other things they’re considering.

    I guess that’d be most like dropping an entire show because one character is annoying. It’s the sort of thing people would complain about, but also put up with.

  7. You might put up with it if you have an investment in the characters, but newer viewers (read: those who haven’t read the books) would be less likely to do so if they don’t Get It right away. I love Powers and could put up with lower budgets for a good character driven story, but for every one of me who can fill in the blanks there are plenty more who would not.

     To use the examples of The Shield and Nip/Tuck, those are shows that could get away with bringing the characters first because of the familiarity of their settings. Powers isn’t like those shows.

     I’m not from the States so I’ll state me ignorance here: The shows I’ve seen from FX that have come over here (the UK) have been pretty shoddy at best. I’d rather see Powers taken up by HBO or ABC but that’s just from what I’ve seen (If HBO gave Powers the same lee-way they gave Carnivale before they had to wrap that up I’d be a happy man).

     I may have kind of lost my point but what I really meant here was: I love Powers and I want to see it on screen. I don’t necessarily think it needs a big budget but it’s one of those properties that could go So Wrong if it it doesn’t look right. Looking right doesn’t necessarily mean big budget though.

     And now I’m talking in circles. 

  8. The Walking Dead is just better comic series & hopefully will be a better tv series on AMC.  And before the haters jump on me, I also read Powers. 

    Next article.


  9. Powers? Call me skeptical, but I just don’t see how the Power Pack family can support a show on TV…

  10. Walking Dead already has a clear audience (the horror crowd). I can’t say the same about Powers. I’m not sure someone who likes Law and Order is going to dig a Powers show, and I don’t think random guy who saw Iron Man is going to dig a Powers show either. 

    I’ve only read a little bit of Walking Dead, but I never really care about the characters because I know they are not long for this world (outside of Rick). I actually do care about Walker and Pilgrim though. This is another problem for Powers. If you cast the wrong two people as the leads, the show is pretty much doomed. On the other hand, if a character on Walking Dead becomes unpopular with the viewing audience you can just kill them off and replace them with new characters. 

  11. Now, about Powers the comic…