*This review may contain some spoilers*
This show has a strong concept, and shows signs of making something great out of it, but there’s too much time wasted going nowhere and setting up season two.
I have not read the “Runaways” comic books, but I know the general concept: A group of high school friends learns that their parents are all super-villains, so they kids go on the run while discovering that they have abilities of their own. The cadre of evil parents includes wizards, mutants, time-travelers, mad scientists, aliens and crime lords. The show takes many liberties with this concept, some for the better, many for the worse. Here, the parents are doing unspeakable things, but are generally normal people with a few dark secrets. The more fantastical backstories are replaced with more realistic traits. Crime lords are now just former Crips, warlocks and time-travelers are just tech geniuses. With the Marvel films already establishing that magic and time-travel exists, it’s disappointing to see this not explored on a smaller scale.
The story moves quite slow at times as the children very slowly try to discover what their parents are up to. Despite the show being called “Runaways” and being based on a comic called “Runaways” about a group of kids who run away from home, they don’t even runaway until the end of the last episode. The show sets up quite a few mysteries, but by the end of the season, very few questions are answered. While it’s a good choice to leave some things to be discovered for later seasons, they overdo it. There’s almost nothing that gets fully explained by the final episode. It feels like there’s no true conclusion to this season. They don’t defeat the villain. They don’t save the world. They barely even come together as a team.
There’s not much action, and only a handful of moments do they get a chance to use their special skills. Even when they do work together, they don’t really establish many threats that feel as if they would have to work as a unit to triumph. And the one time they do look like they do need to join forces, they don’t.
The story focuses on the parents just as much as it does on the kids, especially in the early episodes. They have their moments, but their histories are so mysterious it’s hard to truly understand their motives. They also spend a few episodes dealing with love triangles. It’s never really that interesting and it doesn’t have a payoff. (There’s already enough going on with all the kid’s multiple love triangles.) I would’ve enjoyed if they were really villains, and not just making bad choices. Bad guys who think they’re not evil can be compelling characters, but instead they all seem to regret their choices.
The acting is fine. There’s not any real standout, but everyone adds enough nuances to make their characters come to life. The dialog can be really corny at times, but they work in some a few strong heart to heart moments.
“Runways” has a lot of potential, but they try too hard to ground things in reality. The show takes it’s time getting where it needs to go, but unfortunately, that journey won’t be completed till next season…or maybe longer.
Season’s best episode: “Kingdom” (Episode 5): Some backstories shed light on the parents, hints of what the future holds and the Runaways finally working together in all their glory.
Season’s worst episode: “Refraction” (Episode 7): Everybody makes weird choices, and the Pride’s relationship drama becomes the focal point.
**1/2 out of *****