Third-episode verdict: The Gifted (US: Fox; UK: Fox UK)

The Gifted

In the US: Mondays, 9/8c, Fox
In the UK: Sundays, 9pm, Fox UK

It’s best to think of The Gifted, Matt Nix’s X-Men-free X-Men drama, as the edited, slower, lower budget highlights of a whole bunch of X-Men movies you’ve already seen. Allegedly a look at the X-Men universe from the point of view of lesser mutants once the X-Men and Brotherhood of Mutants have buggered off, it sees mum and dad Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker on the run from the authorities (Coby Bell) when they learn that their two teenage children are mutants. To stand a fighting chance, the family has to tie up with the ‘mutant underground’, which is full of young mutants with their own soapy issues.

Nix could maybe have spun this is an exciting new direction, just as Noah Hawley did with Legion, were it not for a couple of odd choices. The first is to split up Acker and Moyer at the end of the first episode, leaving Moyer to spend all his time with Bell. They do not for an exciting pairing make and rob the show of one of its few points of difference. It also leaves Acker spending her time looking worried about her family while a bunch of whiny other mutants worry about their boyfriends or girlfriends.

The second problem is that he’s populated the show with mutants whom you’ve seen before (eg Blink) or have powers you’ve seen before (eg Polaris, daughter of Magneto). The result is that pretty much everything is a retread of the movies, just with everyone running away rather than squaring off for a fight.

It’s not all a loss. Everything looks great, although by episode three, we’re down to pick-up truck chases on empty Canadian country lanes. There’s usually something novel in each episode. It’s also good to see Acker and Moyer starring in something again and the supporting cast of pretty young mutants are reasonably credible.

But it’s just so mundane. It retreads so much old territory while adding so little. And in a schedule full of superheroes, with more to come (eg Black Lightning), that could well be a fatal mistake.

Barrometer rating: 3

The Barrometer for The Gifted

  • Just caught up with this show. I love Acker, and I’m glad to see Matt Nix is working with something a shade less dark than Complications, and using a bunch of his friends from Burn Notice. I really hope the show does well, and since I’m not watching a bunch of the superhero shows going on, maybe it will feel fresher to me. 🙂

    • I’ve probably burnt out on superhero shows, it’s true. And at least it’s better than APB

      • JustStark

        Will future generations look back on super-heroes as being to the 2000s and 2010s as westerns were to the fifties and sixties?

        • Probably. It would be hard not to. They probably won’t go away though, just ebb and flow in popularity without ever really disappearing in their entirety

          • JustStark

            People probably said that about Westerns in 1959, though.

          • They did. And for a while they did go away, although Bonanza ran into the 1970s. But then you get an Unforgiven and then they’re back all the way through the 90s, die down a little in the 00s, then come back a bit more in 10s. Even just this year, we’ve got Godless and Tin Star’s basically a modern day Western.

            So I imagine superheroes will wane a bit within the next decade, then come back again the decade after, perhaps after the current generation start feeling nostalgic for the shows they grew up with as kids.