TV Review – The Gifted (2017)
When I watched the first episode, I was honestly not impressed. At this point, we’ve had so many TV shows about super-heroes or people with super-powers. Some have been original. Others have been adaptations of comic books by either DC Comics or Marvel Comics. The output of which has really exploded over the past five to ten years. If one counts Netflix, there’s currently a dozen TV shows that have been produced since 2010 that have been adaptations of characters from DC Comics or Marvel Comics. Therefore, this one has a lot of competition, and comparing the first episode to the first episodes of any of those dozen, this series would rank in the bottom three.
The first episode can have a lot of pressure put onto it. It has to introduce the main characters, make us care about them and set up a compelling hook to keep us interested in watching the next episode if not the rest of the season. The first episode, written by Matt Nix (Burn Notice and APB) and directed by Bryan Singer (X-Men and Superman Returns), only does half the job in regard to those three points. I think it mainly fails in getting us to care because it has to rush through a lot of plot and characters. The first episode has eight characters and enough plot for two episodes, so it feels like it’s cramming.
Stephen Moyer (True Blood) stars as Reed Strucker, a prosecutor in Atlanta who specializes in cases involving mutants. If one is familiar with Marvel Comics, specifically its X-Men franchise, then you know mutants are people born with special powers. Many look human and can hide in plain sight. Others are born looking different. Some undergo transformations during puberty. The problem is that we’re not given enough time to feel what Reed’s job entails and actually see him doing it, but instead we’re immediately thrust into the plot of him being on the run without ever getting a true understanding of his life and his outlook prior.
Amy Acker (Angel) co-stars as Caitlin Strucker, the wife of Reed who works as a nurse. She’s also the mother of Reed’s two teenage children. She’s not the biggest fan of mutants, but when she realizes that her two kids are mutants, she will do anything to protect them. She’s a bit hysterical when all the action breaks out but she then becomes dedicated to fighting for mutants.
Natalie Alyn Lind (The Goldbergs and Gotham) plays Lauren Strucker and Percy Hynes White (Murdoch Mysteries) plays Andy Strucker. They’re the two kids. Lauren is the older sister to Andy. They’re both in high school now. She’s secretly had powers for three years, but Andy just develops his powers after being bullied. We’re very broadly introduced to them. Except for their powers, we don’t get much about them, and even their powers aren’t well defined.
The Strucker family is going to be a big part of the series, but the show brings in a rag tag group of mutants who live on the fringes. Some have escaped prison. We follow four of them who are part of a larger group in hiding. Actually, the group is reminiscent of the characters in The Tomorrow People, which had a far better, first episode than this one. We only get glimpses of these four and not enough to get us to care.
All that being said, the second episode really turned things around for this series. The first episode was a rush job, but, if nothing else, it did set-up a second episode, which nailed all of the needed aspects that a good TV series has to have and that’s mainly an emotional core that gets you to care about what’s happening. Nix’s script for the second episode also brilliantly commented on aspects in the real world, which the X-Men franchise has a history of doing. It had a decent level of action and good drama. That along with the diverse cast made me confident that it could be a series, not in the bottom three, but possibly top five.
Sean Teale (Skins and Mr. Selfridge) co-stars as Marcos Diaz aka Eclipse. Blair Redford (The Young and the Restless and Switched at Birth) also co-stars as John Proudstar aka Thunderbird. Jamie Chung (Once Upon a Time and Gotham) co-stars as Clarice Fong aka Blink and Emma Dumont (Bunheads and Aquarius) also co-stars as Lorna Dane aka Polaris. Coby Bell (Third Watch and The Game) plays Jace Turner who isn’t a mutant. He’s part of a government agency hunting mutants, but he along with the others, except Dumont, is an actor of color. It’s just great to see such a diverse cast and the second episode showcases them to a great degree that I hope the series continues.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Mondays at 9PM on FOX.