October 2, 2017

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “The Gifted”


THE GIFTED:  Monday 9PM on FOX – In the Queue

FOX’s THE GIFTED exists in the X-Men region of Marvel’s mythology, which in corporate terms means that it (along with Fantastic Four) belongs to 20th Century Fox rather than Disney.  Fox has been more adventurous in its part of the superhero terrain than Disney, experimenting successfully with the neo-western Logan, the R-rated comedy Deadpool and the head trip Legion.  The Gifted is a more conservative piece of work, but it’s been put together with some care, and it’s certainly far superior to the fall’s other Marvel series, Disney/ABC’s awful Inhumans.

Another contractual point:  people with superpowers may be Inhumans on ABC, but on FOX they can be mutants.  As is usually the case in the X-Men universe, the pilot for The Gifted, written by series creator Matt Nix (of Burn Notice) and directed by X-Men honcho Bryan Singer, presents us with a government that has cracked down on mutants in a way that’s definitely supposed to bring to mind undocumented aliens and other oppressed groups.  Reed Strucker (Stephen Moyer) is an official in the bureaucracy that exists to track and imprison mutants, so imagine his surprise, and that of his wife Caitlin (Amy Acker) when they learn that their their teens Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) and Andy (Percy Hynes White) are mutants themselves.  Lauren is a telekinetic, and Andy is apt to go into full-on Carrie mode when faced with bullies.  Since Reed knows how the government treats mutants, he immediately puts the family on the run, where soon enough they come into contact with some more seasoned mutants:  Polaris (Emma Dumont), with magnetic powers; Blink (Jamie Chung), who can open portals in space; Eclipse (Sean Teale), who can emit blinding light; and tracker Thunderbird (Blair Redford).

That’s as far as the pilot takes us, and the hour is promising if not thrilling.  Moyer and Acker are solid actors with a strong background in supernatural hokum, and Singer gets the most out of the pilot CG budget, as he keeps things whirling.  We can’t tell from the episode whether these superpowered characters will be interesting beyond the fact that they have special abilities, or if the intent is to have more of a plot than our heroes constantly being one step ahead of the authorities.  The Gifted could be fun in the way of the Greg Berlanti DC adventures on CW, or it could settle into a callow and repetitive mode.

The path is clear for moderate success in the ratings.  The Gifted has been paired with Lucifer, which has had surprising stickiness with viewers (although it feels like it should be the 9PM show as the more adult of the comic book sagas), and it doesn’t face any direct competition from CBS’s sitcoms or from The Voice and Dancing With the Stars  Even CW will be airing one of its rare non-DC hours, the new military drama Valor.  If The Gifted can deliver, it promises to be a diverting piece of escapism; if not, it will barely be missed amidst all of its genre on the air.



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."