Friday 7 June 2013


Strange... but true: I've always liked Marvel's POWER PACK.  There: I said it.  I thought the book's first couple of years was far better than the concept deserved to be.  Later - of course - it degenerated into a succession of power-swaps, gratuitous (sales-booster) appearances by other Marvel characters and a succession of tie-ins with whatever was Marvel's latest crossover event.  I'd long ago stopped reading but when they announced the book was canned, I was relieved.

Surprisingly, just as the title was waning, Marvel's one-time owner (and still a business partner) tried to sell a PP TV show and actually shot a pilot episode.

This article, from STARLOG spin-off COMICS SCENE issue 20 (cover-dated August 1992), covers the making of that - ultimately unsold - one-shot.  The Canadian shot pilot was originally produced as a perspective series for NBC's Saturday morning schedule (the network was in the process of shifting from animation to tween-friendly live-action) but was then pitched to local stations when the peacock net passed.

According to the usual online sources, the pilot did subsequent air several times on FOX although that looks a little TBC.  Certainly a bootleg copy is in circulation as I acquired a copy several years ago.

It's not a bad little show, best described as a mix of THE RED HAND GANG and MY SECRET IDENTITY (a similar show which might have helped kill the appeal of a second syndicated teen super-power series for local stations).  The producers do play fast-and-loose with the formula but to no great detriment.  The relatively small budget meant a New York City locale was out-of-the-question and the kids powers were also made more budget-friendly.  Also jettisoned were the matching costumes but - honestly - that's no bad thing.  Not only would they have looked daft but I don't think we really want to see kids running around in lycra costumes!

One other change was making the Power parents aware of their offspring's powers (their origins are explained - via voiceover - at the top of the show) whereas - in the comic - keeping them secret was a major plot-point.  I assume the producers were skittish of the idea of kids keeping secrets from their parents in a show primarily pitched at a young audience.

The performances were all reasonable and the young cast do what they can with the thin material.  The haunted house plot seemed a little off-message for what was being pitched as a superhero show and I found myself wondering whether perspective buyers were confused as to whether they would be buying a superhero show or a supernatural show.  The scares are - predictably - virtually non-existant but at least the whole thing is played straight.

The pilot - unsurprisingly - never reached British TV although the comic strip will be familiar to anyone who read Marvel UK's RETURN OF THE JEDI weekly (serialised reprints filled 90-odd issues and only ended when the title was cancelled) and THUNDERCATS (where the reprints - beginning again at the beginning - appeared from the first issue until being ousted by the merger of THE ADVENTURES OF THE GALAXY RANGERS).

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