HBO's The Nevers a Victorian X-Men

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The Nevers S1P1

The best way for me to elevator pitch HBO's The Nevers is "The X-Men if they first appeared in Victorian England."

The premise of this series is that there was "an event" -- a ship of some kind that appeared like a giant dragonfly flew over and "sprinkled" sparkles over the city. Some of these were absorbed into people who began to exhibit powers or traits they could not control. That day happens a ways ahead of where the series starts, where these people who have been "touched" by the phenomenon, and different sectors of society. The purists, led by Lord Massen (Pip Torrens), see them as an affront to God's creation and would have them hanged. To Lord Hugo Swan (James Norton), they are a commodity for his house of debauchery.

All Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) wants to do is help them and keep them safe, in the orphanage she has established. But keeping the Touched safe is a challenge when there are others who use their abilities for petty crimes or, worse, for wanton murderous mayhem. That's where we meet Maladie, an madwoman who speaks in non sequiturs, seeks to kill angels, and has a mysterious connection to Amalia. (Amy Manson, who plays Maladie, truly dominates the screen in every scene she gets.)

Amalia's ability is that she frequently gets glimpses of the future -- where she will be, what she will be doing. Her partner, Penance Adair (Ann Skelly), is an engineer, gifted with the capacity to feel the flow of electricity and where it wants to go, allowing her to invent contraptions before their time. (Although some of these have a tendency not to work quite right; "Only a prototype" is said frequently enough to be the show's catch phrase.) Together they look after Touched men and women like Myrtle (Viola Prettejohn), who understands English, but can't speak it -- despite having every other language jumble out of her mouth when she tries to speak; Primrose (Anna Devlin), a little girl who's a good 12-feet tall; and Lucy (Elizabeth Berrington), whose alien song speaks to all of the Touched and serves as a beacon to draw them in.

This Blu-ray release contains the first six episodes of the first season. Normally, I prefer my home video sets to be complete seasons, but the story ends on quite a satisfying note -- still a "to be continued" setting, to be sure, but not an immediate cliffhanger waiting to be resolved. There have been murders, and they might have been committed by Maladie. Or they may have been committed by someone trying to stir up hostilities against all the Touched. Working to solve this murder is Detective Frank Mundi (Ben Chaplin), a man without any special powers but with a keen observant eye and a dominating force of will. 

The final episode on this set is a bit jarring, but it's also the most important as it gives an explanation (of sorts) as to how Amalia came to be who and where (and even when) she is, while exploring the alien vessel buried deep underground. Fans of oddball superheroes and steampunk will revel in the spectacle an story of The Nevers.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0