If you're a multi-billion dollar entertainment company, it seems the hottest thing to do these days is produce original television. Sony is the latest to jump onto the Netflix bandwagon, announcing today that it will produce an adaptation of cult comic book series Powers as its first series. It will likely be exclusively available to PlayStation owners and "of premium cable quality," according to Deadline. That means high production values, 10 episodes per season and plenty of cursing, violence, and nudity.
This is welcome news for any and all fans of Powers, a title that seemed custom-made for television but struggled for years in development hell at FX. Set in a world where superpowers are common and costumed heroes patrol the streets of Chicago, it's centered around two not-super detectives who investigate crimes relating to those with powers. The guy, Christian Walker, used to be a costumed superhero before losing his abilities, and the gal, Deena Pilgrim, is his new partner.
Sony optioned the book, written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Michael Avon Oeming, way back in 2001. A pilot was filmed for FX in 2011 starring Jason Patric and Lucy Punch (fans clamored at the time for two cult TV stars whose shows had recently concluded, Kyle Chandler and Katee Sackhoff). It wasn't picked up, but new scripts were written and the project was still being considered by FX as late as 2013. Sony has now migrated it over to this new initiative.
At first glance, it seems like a smart call. There's increasingly little different between buying a PlayStation or an Xbox, outside of price (the PlayStation is $100 cheaper) and a few exclusive game titles. Sony is likely hoping this will help swing a few comic book fans over to their device. If Powers the show is actually good, this could be the opening of a new front in the console wars: now it won't just be who has the Titanfall or Uncharted games, but who has the best original TV programming. Because don't think Microsoft isn't planning the exact same move.
The real question is, how much is too much? Networks like E!, Bravo, Amazon, Pivot, and countless others are producing scripted shows for the first time. Next we have game consoles. At a certain point, people are not going to pony up multiple monthly subscriptions and buy special consoles just to watch certain TV shows, and the barriers between smaller and smaller "networks" might have to fall down. But not just yet.