WHERE TO WATCH:
WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
A supernatural event causes a group of Victorian women to have 'unusual abilities', they band together as they face enemies that come at them from different sides.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
Simply put – The Nevers is a lot. The first four episodes of the season, that was made available for the press to watch, pass by in a flurry of names, faces and events in an attempt at world-building that left me both confused and intrigued. The series is both unlike anything you've seen before but also influenced by many things that you've seen before.
The Nevers is set in Victorian London (the 1890s) and tells the story of a strange event that alters the abilities of many women. What the strange event was, we don't know, and who is behind it, we don't know either but the show is definitely setting up these questions as mysteries.
There are a number of players that are involved: there is Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) a widow who can see into the future that runs an orphanage for women who have been 'touched'. There is Penance Adair (Ann Skelly), Amalia's right hand woman and a member of the Touched who is able to manipulate electricity in order to create inventions to help the Touched with controlling their abilities or defend themselves. The orphanage is funded by the wealthy aristocrat Lavinia Bidlow (Olivia Williams). And then rounding out the main cast is Lavinia's brother Augie (Tom Riley) who has a special connection with the Touched, his friend Hugh Swann (James Norton) an aristocrat who is attempting to open a sex club with Touched workers, Lord Massen, a politicial figure who is scheming against the Touched, Dr. Edmund Hague (Denis O'Hare) an American doctor performing experiments on the Touched, and Maladie (Amy Hanson) an unhinged member of the Touched who is on a killing spree.
These are only some of the main characters, each episode keeps on adding new characters with different motivations and intentions, and nothing is fully-revealed about any of the characters either, so we don't really trust them. So it is like playing one big game of Cluedo, across five different boards and trying to keep track of all of them.
Before the release of the series, creator and showrunner Joss Whedon was accused of workplace harassment amongst other accusations by Ray Fisher and Charisma Carpenter who had worked with him on Justice League and Angel. Whedon then exited the project and was replaced by Philipa Goslett as showrunner. However Whedon's influence is evident throughout the first couple of episodes, especially the pilot, which he wrote. Despite the setting, one can easily draw comparisons between The Nevers and some of Whedon's other female-led action series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dollhouse, even Firefly.
Whedon really loves a good ensemble piece (he also directed the first two Avengers films) and you can see that is what he was going for in the creation of the orphanage and all the moving parts in the series. The orphanage reminded me of the X-Men, the way that there were different people from different backgrounds with different gifts working together. However, because there are so many characters, most are underutilised and I have to hope that the rest of the season tells their stories more, however, I don't see how they will have any time.
Easily my favourite part of the first few episodes are Laura Donnelly and Ann Skelly, who play Amalia and Penance. They are both compelling characters who support and encourage each other, and their friendship is just adorable. The chemistry between the two lead actors seems to bleed off the screen. I also really enjoyed James Norton's performance as Hugh Swann. It's very flashy but he makes a meal of it and it's fun to watch.
Despite how stuffed the first couple of episodes are, I found myself enjoying the story more each episode. The action sequences are very choreographed and are entertaining to watch, there is one in a lake in episode 3 that was immediately my favourite. I do hope that the team can get over their initial storytelling hiccups and can tell a concise narrative by the end of the season.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: