It is notable that Gotham is set in the recent past. There are no smartphones. Cellphones, sure, but they don't even seem to have WAP. These leads to certain plots that can be told, without GPS, without being able to google on the go and where even payphones have't been ripped up and replaced.
In the pilot scripts that we have been looking at recently, from Fear The Walking Dead to Scream to Lucifer to Preacher, smartphones, tablets, social media have all figured prominently, integral to the plot, thoug absent in the original versions. This is the world we live in. New media, gossip websites, superheroes going viral. On and domain dealers Fabulous will be happy that the domain powersthatbe.com gets some online attention. Had one offer and 120 hits over 3 months, it will probably be increasing very soon….
And it's how the pilot script to Powers, based on the comic by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Van Oeming published by Image Comics and Marvel Comics, opens too. With Johnny Royalle saying the word "power", while Calista looks at her phone in a pop-up nightclub "Here And Gone" and seeing a gif of a meteor exploding in the sky, destroyed by a superhero. Hmm, maybe it'll be a Vine by the time it makes it to your Playstation.
You may recall the comic book series, opens with the six year old Calista being rescued by ex-superhero-turned cop Walker from a kidnapping, and then investigating the death of Retro Girl. Royale is number one suspect and Calista turns out to be a Retro Girl reincarnated, taking on that role. Um, spoilers.
Well, the TV pilot sees a teenage version of Calista as a Retro Girl fangirl being tempted by Royalle in his club and hooking up with the Superman analogue Olympia – Powers being sold as a sexually transmitted disease. And rather than dealing with the death of Retro Girl, we have the death of Olympia right from the get go, from what appear to be Royale's drugs and a rather traumatised Calista. Oh and Royalle still teleports but everyone thinks he's dead. His henchmen, the Simons, are still identically the same person. And there's an autopsy scene that doesn't need to use a blowtorch, but at mentions the possibility that some do…
But I'm getting ahead of myself. One big structural difference is also see Walker's superhero history right from the beginning, rather than a gradual revelation, with images of his role as Diamond in his apartment, and being discussed by others in his life.
As for police in the precinct, they are named after comic book creators, old timer Adlard, young lazy Mac, groupie cop Argento, morose Zabriski, fitness nut Chaykin and his second, Golden. From the comics there is also the charming Detective Kitter. Oh and Dina Pilgrim, described as a pint sized riot grrl, replacing Walker's partner the late Brian Stockley, and Captain Emile Cross.
There are some moments, some lines, right out of the comic book. Kutter and Pilgrim in the comic have an initial falling out over her size, in the script it is over some under-the-breath sexual harassment, but the result is the same.
The pilot gives us a teenage comic book artist, and son of the late Brian Stockley, Krispin Stockley, to emphasise where this show came from. Bet they get Oeming to do his art. We even get a bit of crosstalking between Walker and Brian's late wife, Bendis style, that shows a history there too. Quite the dynamic. There are also strongs regarding the relationships between a father and a child, and the people who take those roles… including a certain Wolfe in a little more over the top security lockdown that in the comic.
And he has a lot more hair.
This is a cop show, but one that drags the underbelly and history of the city it operates it. Much murkier and less cartoony than Gotham, even as it has super powered characters, and the pop culture that accompanies it. As with Preacher, much of the structure has changed, the stories being told are different, or are told differently, but the central characters seem pretty much identical, handled in a respectful fashion, with all sorts of beats taken straight from the comics. Oh and Deena Pilgrim is just as foul mouthed as she was in the original.
So, like Preacher, even the most committed Powers fan isn't going to know what's going to happen next…
Not bad. Not bad at all. No monkey sex yet though. We've got time.