July 17, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Power”


POWER:  Sunday 9PM on Starz

Although Starz has embraced the classy Outlander as the face of its original programming, recently giving it a 2-season renewal, the network’s bread and butter is Courtney A. Kemp’s  hip-hop crime saga POWER, which is by far its highest-rated original.  This season, Starz is using the 3rd stanza of Power to breach the walls of Sunday night pay-TV, historically the domain of HBO and Showtime’s big guns–and since their summer weaponry is limited to the lower-caliber The Night Of and Ray Donovan, the gambit may work.

The series itself remains moderately compelling, without being especially notable.  The theme for the Season 3 premiere, written by Kemp and directed by George Tillman, Jr, might be “I tried to get out–but they pulled me back in!”  James St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick), the club-owner and drug-trafficker better known as “Ghost,” spent much of the hour asking those around him to call him by his given name, as he tried to establish himself on the straight and narrow, but by the episode’s ending, he was calling himself Ghost again, three-quarters of the way back in the game.

Ghost’s main problem was that Lobos (Enrique Murciano), the cartel boss he tried to assassinate at the end of Season 2, didn’t die.  (It’s likely that Ghost went 0 for 2 and that Power Executive Producer and guest star Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s Kanan is less than dead as well, since he’s listed in the season’s acting credits.)  Lobos, not surprisingly, wanted Ghost wiped out, and he partnered with Ghost’s one-time BFF Tommy (Joseph Sikora, still the show’s firecracker), who had taken over Ghost’s drug empire and had his own resentments against Ghost.  Meanwhile, the Justice Department was painted as no less a snakepit than the drug trafficking world, as Ghost’s true love Angela Valdez (Lela Loren) coped with a superior who was secretly on the take to Lobos, and an ex-boyfriend FBI liaison who was stalking her.

As is often the cases with season premieres, the episode was something of a slow burn, the highlights being Tommy throwing some plastic-wrapped goons off a highway overhang, and the slaughter of Tommy’s own beloved dog, presumably by Lobos.  The rest was mostly scenes of people either scheming or warning others that people were scheming, with some time reserved for the uncomfortable break-up of Ghost’s marriage to Tasha (Naturi Naughton).

Power covers some of the same territory as Empire, without being as extravagantly fun.  The acting is intense, and Sikora and Murciano are always worth watching (as is Lucy Walters, as Tommy’s untrustworthy girlfriend Holly), but the characters don’t have a lot of meat on their bones, and Kemp’s plotting tends not to be in a hurry.  Episodes can seem like collections of glares and calculating looks without much forward movement.  There’s no question, though, that the show has found an audience, and those who are already committed will probably care about how clean Ghost can keep his hands, and whether he and Angela can implausibly find a future despite being on opposite ends of the law.  Power has enough of its title to keep the guns firing and the lights on.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."