Director: Bryan Singer
Writer/Creator: Matt Nix
Fox’s new series The Gifted premiered last night, and we’re still wrapping our heads around it. The show, set in the same Marvel universe which hosts the iconic X-Men, features a suburban family whose lives are essentially turned upside down when their two teen children “come out” to mom & dad as mutants. In a world that hates & fears anyone who displays the “X-gene”, the family has to work fast to get to a safe place in the world, as they are hunted by a federal agency which is bent on capturing all mutants.
Starring Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker as the aforementioned parents, the show isn’t light on talent in the cast. Relative newcomers Natalie Alyn Lind and Percy Hynes White portray the family’s two teenagers, and their acting meshes quite well with the veterans in the cast, giving the family a more realistic feel (what teens don’t argue at the table?). The teens really showcased unique personalities in their characters, which also gave more life to their mutant powers: Andy’s (Hynes White) anger & inner turmoil manifested in a destructive telekinesis, where Lauren’s (Lind) protective & soft-spoken nature brought out a more shielding ability.
The direction, lighting, and settings are also what one would expect from a gritty story like this one. Showcasing softer, more simple moments in the characters’ lives, the lighting seemed to be brighter, and colors were a bit more vibrant. When it came time to bring in the action, however, stark shadows and muted grey tones were used to great effect. As the family was running for their lives through the city, even the walls of a parking garage seemed as if they would close in on people. Viewers were also treated to a few moments of neutrality in this roller coaster, as sequences involving the city’s courthouse and Reed Strucker’s (Moyer) fellow attorneys walked a balance beam between those light & dark tones.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you all that the show is without its faults, dear readers. The action in The Gifted, while impressively done with special effects, seemed a bit lacking. Sure, there were pretty epic scenes with the family escaping capture by the feds, and Andy’s powers manifesting in the destruction of a locker room; but there were a few scenes which felt like they could’ve benefited from a bit more subtlety, and less of a heavy-handed touch to them. The scene where a vending machine explodes after Andy can’t control his powers while being tutored by his sister? Well….that just seemed a bit tacked-on for the sake of blowing something up in the first episode (looking at you, Bryan Singer).
Overall, however, The Gifted is a fun show, with some great callbacks to the X-Men of yesteryear (listen for a specific ringtone). Is it perfect? No. However, for those of us who really want a Marvel superhero story on network TV, this is a great choice. With awesome acting, lighting & direction that feels like a full-scale movie, and enough action to keep viewers engaged, this show is definitely one to watch every week.
3.5 Stan Lee cameos out of 5