Marvel’s latest series doesn’t take place in their vast shared crossover universe. Instead, we have a timely television spin on the X-men. A leader of the mutant underground gets captured, while a man who helps prosecute mutants learns his children carry the X-factor gene.

Title: “eXposed”

Director: Bryan Singer
Writers: Matt Nix

Cast
Amy Acker as Kate Strucker
Stephen Moyer as Reed Strucker
Percy Hynes White as Andy Strucker
Natalie Alyn Lind as Lauren Strucker
Emma Dumont as Lorna Dane / Polaris
Jamie Chung as Clarice Fong / Blink
Blair Redford as John Proudstar / Thunderbird
Sean Teale as Marcos Diaz / Eclipse
Toks Olagundoye as Carla
Steffan Argus as Jack
Jermaine Rivers as Shatter
Dale Godboldo as Ted Baird
Joe Nemmers as Agent Ed Weeks
Jason Bremer as Sentinel Service Man
Paul Caraway as Sentinel Services Tech #1
Hayley Lovitt as Sage
Tony Maples as Scotty
Jeff Daniel Phillips as Tex
James Sterling as Mutant

Premise:

In some version of the convoluted and multifurcated X-Men timeline (both the X-Men and the Brotherhood receive passing mention), the government hunts down X-factor mutants. Imprisoned Clarice Fong escapes incarceration using her teleportation abilities. Key Mutant Underground member Lorna Dane/Polaris gets captured, and a government prosecutor, Strucker, tries to strike a deal with her. Unbeknown to Strucker, however, his own children have mutant powers, which will soon make the family fugitives.

High Points:

The pilot serves up what viewers would expect: this is the basic X-Men premise reworked for lower-budget series television, with equal amounts of action and social commentary. Marvel’s mutants have been used as a metaphor for a range of issues, and the show appears poised to explore them all, without becoming excessively preachy.

The spider-tech effects in the conclusion look impressive. The show’s creators clearly know that’s as important to their audience as the invasive federal agency, the Mexican wall, and the mutant-bullying.

Low Point:

For an organization created to deal with mutants, Sentinel Services initially seem ill-prepared. The episode repeatedly shows us that mutants resist being taken into custody, and we later learn the Sentinels have access to some very advanced technology. Nevertheless, the two idiots who try to arrest the Strucker kids simply walk up to their door and ask two anxious teens, whom they know or suspect have significant power, to come along with them. They also lack any kind of backup plan—or even backup—when this brilliant plan immediately fails.

Reed Strucker’s later comment that they did not have enough time to assemble a team falls a little flat.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 The series does nothing really groundbreaking with the X-premise (and the high school scenes recall Carrie more than a little), but it does them competently.

Effects: 5/6 The show, of course, operates on a much smaller budget than the X-Men films, but they have used that budget intelligently. The low-key effects work, and they saved for a couple of impressive moments.

Acting: 4/6 The acting varies, but the cast, which includes genre veteran Amy Acker, shows potential. Some of the dialogue/acting plunges a little too far into soap territory.

Production: 5/6

Story: 5/6 The show feels strangely old-school, with heroes on the run, a clear chapter of a story arc, and clear conflicts (internal and external).

Emotional Response: 4/6

Overall: 5/6 I doubt I’ll see the rest of this series for some time—- time being in short supply—- but fans of the superheroic who want a slightly more grounded approach than found in the popular, more overtly comic-bookish DC shows will want to tune into The Gifted.

In total, “eXposed” receives 30/42