Monday, October 6, 2014
A show about the paranormal, Powers is a show from 2004 that I am very nostalgic about! I saw it when it aired, back when I was a kid. Unfortunately, it's never aired since, to my knowledge, and despite the show's popularity, and good ratings, Powers was never renewed for a second season and beyond, and for some baffling reason, it's never gotten a media release of any kind! No videos, no DVD's, and no obscure Japanese laserdiscs!
Powers is about the titularly titled team of scientists and students who help people and investigate cases of the strange and unexplainable variety. They include Song-Li Harris (Amy Yamazaki), Mark Roberts (Adam Jessop), Professor Henry Powers (Rupert Holliday-Evans), and Dr. Mary Holland (Mandana Jones). Mark is both telepathic, and telekinetic, while Song-Li is empathically telepathic-She can read feelings, whereas Mark can read minds.
The plots to this show are very well written, as I'll get into greater detail about below. The characters carry the show well too. Mark and Song-Li are fun leads, with good character to them. While Mary, and the Professor aren't particularly fleshed out, they're still likeable, and make more-than-worthwhile additions to the team.
The acting is always good, my favourite performance being from Amy Yamazaki.
The score to Powers is superbly done, especially with the awesome main theme!
Another thing I dig about the show is that secondary characters are realistically skeptical. If they don't believe in telekinesis or the like, they certainly do after seeing it in action!
New Kid in Town
A country hotel is rapidly losing clientele after repeated incidents that seem to be caused by a ghost. Song-Li, a lonely young girl, is particularly 'tormented' by the spirit, as, unbeknownst to her, she has empathic psychic powers. Her exasperated father doesn't believe a ghost is present, and instead thinks that Song-Li is deliberately trashing her hotel room, for attention.
New Kid in Town is a serviceable premiere episode to Powers. It's not great, but it does its job well, introducing the series template, and its characters. The plot is decently written, but the story with the ghost is very abruptly concluded.
The acting is by far the best thing about this episode, most notably Amy Yamazaki.
This episode's only downfall is the subpar CGI for the plates being thrown around.
Family man David has been guilty all his life, ever since he accidentally caused an explosion at his family's quarry, injuring his father badly in the process. While his father has long since forgiven him, David can't bear to forgive himself, and he gets out of bed in the middle of one night and goes missing. After four days, the police have beeen unable to find out where David is, the only clue being the presence of his car at the old quarry. David's family call the Powers Project for help, and this case may need Song-Li's newly trained empathic abilities...
Missing is a highly entertaining and interesting episode, which almost manages to be a perfect sit, but is hampered by a pretty major problem. It's not so major that it's annoying, or that it ruins the experience, but it will probably make you groan. It gives such a ridiculous reason for the possibility for time travel! "It's well documented that stress can cause physical changes in people. If that's the case, it's quite possible it causes physical changes in the universe. The enormous guilt David was carrying could have caused enough stress to throw him back in time!". Wow! That's hilarious!
The secondary characters here are all likeable, and in the case of the kid, David's son, he's not only not annoying, but he's also pretty proactive!
Missing's ending is a great character moment between Mark and Song-Li, and it's very well done! It's my favourite part in an episode already brimming with neat ideas and great moments!
Shade in the Stone
Teenager Evan has always been interested in but ever since he and his great uncle dug up ancient Anglo-Saxon artifacts, he's been obsessed, even caught snooping in the museum the objects were given to in the middle of the night. The Powers Project visit Evan, to try and determine the cause behind his erratic new behaviour, but all Mark can telepathically gleam from his head is a repeated phrase from an old language...
Shade in the Stone is a nifty episode, and has a couple of creepy moments here and there! Overall, the story has a great atmosphere to it, especially thanks to the episode's scoring, which has a ye olden times tribal British feel to it.
I can't judge on the effects for the ghost at the end of the episode, as the low quality of the series on Youtube makes it hard to tell.
One problem I know I have with Shade in the Stone is its pre-credits sequence, which is way too short and undercooked. It just stops moreso than it ends.
We Are Not Alone
A young girl has been captured at a top secret government facility, and they believe her to be an alien. They call on the Powers Project for help in getting the girl to talk, and Mark and Song Li are successful, finding out the girl's name-Lex. They soon realize that Lex and others from her ship were only at the facility by mistake, despite the paranoid Dr. Felton's suspicions that they were hostile, and the two devise a plan to break Lex free...
Yep, aliens. This show has introduced legit real aliens! Thankfully, it does so in a way that's not only not forced, but makes you eager to know more. It never comes across as silly that the Powers Institute are getting embroiled in Area 51 type alien 'hijinks'
We Are Not Alone is a very enjoyable episode, and I really wish it was long! It's not too short, nor does it underutilize its concept, but rather it's so good that I wish it wasn't just 21 minutes long.
Jessica Fox (known for her main role in The Worst Witch series) does well as the alien Lex, and Tim Curry lookalike David Mallinson does a good job as the episode's 'villain' Dr. Felton, even if his character is a very stock-standard type.
The pre-credits sequence here is better here than last episode, but not by much, as it still feels too short.
Land of Nod
Young girl Erin has been having a disturbing recurring nightmare for the last few nights. She dreams she's with a kind old couple, William and Angie, and they're very friendly with her to begin with, but the dream always goes wrong, and William, inconsolably angry about something, always storms away. Erin's mother takes her to the Powers Project to see if they can help, as the dream is really taking its toll on her, and the team work out a plan-Let Erin fall asleep, send Song-Li in the dream with her, and let the two play out the dream all the way to the end, to try and solve the mystery behind it...
Land of Nod is not only my favourite episode of Powers-It's also one of my favourite stories ever! Due to the lack of availability of this series, it took eight years before I was able to see Powers again, but despite the passage of time, I still remembered many episodes clearly, Land of Nod most of all! Dreams are such an interesting concept, and this episode explores them very well, delivering an excellently written, and poignant tale!
The acting here is all great, especially from the secondary cast!
I especially like the effects for the dreamworld, in the respect that they make the proceedings feels naturally surreal, not weird in a forced way.
Things That Go Bump
A children's home is experiencing a bad haunting, with objects dangerously hurling themselves everywhere on multiple occasions. The resident is skeptical at first, believing the 'haunting' to be the work of vandals, specifically Kelly, an older teenager who ran away from the home after a big fight with her, and hasn't been seen since. The Powers Project are called in, and quickly realize that there might be a worse reason for Kelly's disappearance than her simply running away, and this haunting is not the work of mere vandals, but it might be orchestrated by Kelly's ghost...
Things That Go Bump is a pretty simple story, but it's well-written, and has some well-handled creepy scenes, as well as an interesting plot. Of course, it kind-of loses some of its impact when it's revealed where Kelly really is, but it's never poorly handled.
There's annoyingly convenient development at the very end which I found groanworthy and kinda nonsensical. It's ridiculously convenient, and a wholly unnecessary inclusion.
Is There Anybody out There?
In a small farming hamlet, a local man has supposedly been abducted by aliens. The whole event was recorded on a video camera, and a skeptical Professor Powers reluctantly lets the team go to the site to determine the truth behind the abduction. Are aliens truly involved, or is this a hoax? And who are the mysterious Cargill family?...
..They're aliens. The Cargills are aliens. It's so predictable and obvious, and the fact that their motivations are never explained make me not feel bad about spoiling this 'twist'!
This episode isn't great, but it's certainly enjoyable. I actually really appreciate one aspect of it-The fact that it furthers the alien arc! In my experience with shows like this, another show would've had the one-off alien episode, then never mentioned it ever again, but Powers had it as a recurring element! I wish we could've seen where it led had Powers not been canned.
The weak link to this episode regards the Cargills themselves. It's never explained in the slightest why they're on Earth, and that's partially detrimental to the plot.
I'll Be Watching You
A teenager named Ian has been having bullying trouble, and it was difficult for him at first, but an unknown force has been making Ian extremely self-confident, to the point that he's willing to go along with potentially dangerous dares to show off in front of his aggressors. The Powers Project are called to investigate Ian by his aunt Mel, and they soon discover the reason behind Ian's newfound confidence...And that it will fade away in three days, whether the now-reckless Ian likes it or not...
On paper, the concept of a guardian angel doesn't sound like it'd gel in a show like Powers, where everything's scientific rather than magical and supernatural, but I'll Be Watching You makes it work. The episode does imply that 'guardian angels' could be a form of psychic phenomena rather than a literal winged angel. Of course, it does also imply the opposite, but nothing specific, so you could think either option, depending on which you prefer.
Song-Li doesn't get much to do this episode, nor does she even appear all that much, but this is bearable, as this is more of a Mark-centric episode.
There is one possibly confusing aspect about this episode. When I watched it, I just assumed that the woman Mel was a counselor or teacher of some sort, but according to Wikipedia, she's Ian's aunt, which does make sense, but I'm not sure if the episode ever says she is. If it doesn't, that's a mild problem, and if it does, then I'm a dumbass.
Just as Shade in the Stone had music that was very fitting with its plot, so does I'll Be Watching You, with its angelic score.
The Powers Project are called by a friend of Mary's to help with his son Ben, who's dog Buster has vanished. Ben claims that he's seen Buster, and that he was at his house, along with a different family. His father naturally doesn't believe such an impossible story, but Mark and Song-Li realize that Ben is telling the truth, and the two quickly uncover where Buster's disappeared to-A parallel universe. Unfortunately, if matter from one universe stays in another, both will start to collapse...
Whether you think parallel universes are a scientifically valid concept on a quantum whatsit level, or if you think they're a laughably unfeasible idea, they can be highly interesting to watch/read things about so long as the story they're in is good, and The Uninvited is definitely that!
This is another episode that I wished was longer than 21 minutes, because its plot pulled me in so much that I could watch this as a whole movie!
When I was a kid, I used to think this episode ended on a pretty down note, but I think the implication is that the wormhole leading to the other universe was a random freak occurrence, only kept open because Buster went through it, and once everything from our dimension was brought back from the other one, the wormhole closes. It's either that, or the depressing thought that any dumbass could accidentally destroy all of creation by inadvertently wandering through.
This episode does have a pretty big problem, unfortunately. The effects for the dimensional disturbances are just video effects like colour filtering or fake static, and don't seem like things that are actually happening in the context of the show. It feels more like someone's just screwing around with the camera.
A man and woman are in a car crash, and while they're badly injured, a teenage girl walks from the crash, completely fine, and oblivious to what's just happened. She ends up being found by the police, who she tells her name-Toni. The mystery girl has no memory, and due to the strange powers she seems to display, the police call the Powers Project to determine who Toni is...
Just as Powers handled aliens really well, it also pulls off this episode's concept beautifully! And it does it in a neat way too, never taking a cliched route, or taking the easy way out! What is this concept, you ask? I'm not spoiling it!
One cliche Face Value seems to follow is having an uber secret evil organization looking to retake Toni for NEFARIOUS purposes, but this episode throws a curveball!
The acting here is especially good, and Florence Bell does a very good job as Toni! Her character is definitely well put together!
Just like The Uninvited, this episode has static-y effects, but they work a bit better here.
In the Loop
Aircrafts have been having baffling instrumental problems whenever they fly over a specific patch of land. Mark and Mary go to the farm where the land is on, and the find a family at odds. The father loves the area and wants to share it with others by making guest cottages, but his daughter Becky feels that this will remove a lot of what makes the area naturally beautiful. Unfortunately, the father's efforts do a lot more than clear trees when he bulldozes a giant stone, causing both his family, and Mark and Mary to be mentally flung several minutes back in time. While Mary is oblivious to the loop, Mark notices, and he realizes from a confused Becky that this isn't the first time this loop has gone around, and this family has been trapped in it for some time...
In the Loop is yet another episode of Powers with a very interesting concept behind it-Time loops! It handles the idea very well, providing a very intriguing plot. The constant looping of the episode's dialogue in the time loop thankfully doesn't feel repetitive, and is instead portrayed in a way that I really dug, with the way the loop is affecting everyone, no matter how hard people try and break away from it.
Another thing I really like about this episode is the very end. At first it seems like a cliched ending stinger, showing that the problem isn't really over, but instead, it shows the opposite, which I appreciate, for not being depressing, and for not being cliched!
Scientist Professor Dixon has brought in an experimental new device to the Powers Project for Mark and Song-Li to test out, called the Future Box. Taking data from how the subject is in the present, the Future Box shows a virtual reality of what they're future could be like. Mark is thrilled to find out that he's incredibly rich in the possible future he sees, but is warned by Dixon to not interact with the simulation, otherwise bad thing could happen to Mark mentally. Unfortunately, Mark's future self in the machine knows his younger self is there, and convinces him to show himself. Mark's body is now facing catastrophe, and a more personal problem comes when Mark finds out the ugly truth about his future self...
Future Box is one of Powers' most interesting episodes, and that is really saying something! There are some aspects of the Future Box device that don't totally make sense, but they're pretty easily forgotten. I won't say anymore, because I'm not spoiling a single thing about this story!
Behind the plot, the direction is the best thing about Future Box, as the episode is really only set in two different locations, one being a single room, and it pulls this off really well! As for effects, they're simple vanishing ones, and they look good, as you'd imagine they would, since making things disappear is one of the things CGI can really do convincingly!
The Future is Yours
It's Mark's birthday, and he's brought to a local football club, which has been loaned the FA cup, to help with its money troubles by bringing in onlookers. The Powers team meet a young teen named Tyrone, who they quickly realize has the ability to see faint visions of the future, and because of seemingly criminal actions he sees involving Mark, Song-Li, and the FA cup, Tyrone is very hostile...
I had interesting expectations with this episode. The last time I saw it was in 2004, and I remembered liking the episode, but being really annoyed by the actor playing the character of Tyrone, especially since he could have potentially been a new cast member had the show returned for a second season. Thankfully, when I rewatched the episode, I didn't find the actor annoying at all! Granted, I still wouldn't like Tyrone much as a main character, but only because the series has got enough characters
As for the plot here, it's a nicely well-written one, and even if Tyrone's powers do seem more on the supernatural side rather than paranormal, it's still a neat concept done well.
Powers is a fantastic show! There's not a bad episode in the bunch, in my opinion, and it really is criminal that there were never any more seasons. This was always a highly interesting series, with intriguing concepts, and great acting! It's all on Youtube, and while it is in low-quality, you can get used to that pretty quickly. I highly recommend checking Powers out if you're at all interested!...