Ways to watch television online continues to grow with the PlayStation Network joining the mix.

Consumers can now use their PS3 and PS4 game consoles to watch the new detective/superhero series “Powers,” which launches Tuesday, March 10. It can be watched online via store.playstation.com or on PS3 and PS4 through the PlayStation store.

Season one of the series — based on the graphic novel by Brian Michael Bendis — follows the lives of two homicide detectives, Christian Walker (Sharlto Copley) and Deena Pilgrim (Susan Heyward), who deal with cases involving super-humans.

This is a world where people with powers are as plentiful as the Kardashians. Copley’s character was one of those superheroes but his abilities were stolen.

Executive producer Charlie Huston says that while the series is the latest in productions based on comic book characters, “Powers” is different because it focuses on what it would be like to live in a world where the superheroes were big parts of pop culture.

“If they were real, they would be the most famous celebrities. We would still have Beyonce, but there would be a hierarchy,” Huston says. “Superman would trump all of that. They would have the same foibles as regular people. We love the whole idea that you have an extra strata to the heroes.”

The show doesn’t look at a world where only the good guys have abilities. Just like in the real world, there will be a certain amount of the population who are up to no good and use their abilities to commit crimes.

It’s taken an almost superhero effort to get “Powers” on the air. The graphic novel started 15 years ago and there were immediate talks about turning it into a movie or TV series.

A test episode was shot for FX, but it didn’t generate enough interest to get the project a green light for production. Additional scripts were written over the next three years.

Another pitch was made. Sony executives suggested that its PlayStation Network was looking for a program to launch its network. After all of the efforts, the show finally found a home.

“And in the end we didn’t have to tailor it in any way because its on the new network. All we are doing is making the best TV we can,” Huston says.

The series is shooting in Atlanta on a budget that doesn’t compare to the money thrown at comic-book movies like “The Avengers” or “Man of Steel.” And yet, the show steps into a world that is as full of superheroes as the Marvel or DC universes.

That’s why the show will be a mix of old-fashioned detective work and the modern mythology of the characters as created by Bendis. Being an online series allows the producers some unusual freedoms, such as not having to build in spots where commercials would be placed.

Also, the language is more in line with what you might here in a real police department rather than the PG version of network TV. There’s also some blood and gore in future episodes.

All of this was appealing enough to get Eddie Izzard to sign on to play Wolfe, a criminal so bad and powerful he spent the last two decades in a special prison for those with unusual powers.

Not much is revealed about his character in the first episode.

“He stays enigmatic and a curiosity but we do get to understand the enigma of him,” Izzard says in a telephone interview before heading out on a world tour that will bring him to Fresno in June. “What I was trying to do was show that this was not a man with a lack of moral compass. It’s just that if you are animalistic you don’t have a compass. Animals don’t do what they do because they are evil. They just do it.”

Izzard also liked that his character was once a mentor to young people with powers. An examination of how that changed will reveal more about why Wolfe is such a threat.

The show also examines the star power those with special powers have and the absurdity of how they are followed and worshiped.

Izzard, who is also doing a comedy tour and several movies either filming or getting ready to start, was willing to take on “Powers” because of the complex nature of the character and story.

Contact Rick Bentley: rbentley@fresnobee.com, (559) 441-6355 or @RickBentley1 on Twitter.


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