×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘Marvel’s Runaways’ on Hulu

In its opening episodes, “Marvel’s Runaways” sketches out its story cleanly and with slick energy. The other three episodes sent for review are more or less efficient as well. But it’s perhaps appropriate that a drama about teens displays something of an identity crisis.

“Runaways” is based on a Marvel comic by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, and Vaughan in particular has an extraordinary ability to make you care about the characters in his graphic novels, even when the stories drag or when the people in them act like blockheads. And when “The O.C.” was firing on all cylinders in its early seasons, Josh Schwartz, who adapted “Runaways” with fellow executive producer Stephanie Savage, imbued the self-aware soap with emotional dilemmas and personal crises worth following, all while keeping the well-appointed proceedings moving at a brisk clip.

“Runaways’” energy level isn’t a problem, at least in the opening installments. But as the season heads into its middle section, meaningful clues about what many of the core characters are actually doing are few and far between. At one point in the fourth episode, one of the adult characters involved in a nefarious but vague intrigue says, “We’re almost there.” Where? What is it they’re actually aiming at, and why have they done what they’ve done? All in all, “Runaways” drops its plot breadcrumbs too sparingly, and thus the series lacks a narrative core around which it can reliably revolve.

That wouldn’t be a problem if some of the characters were more textured and compelling, but “Runaways” has so many people in its cast that no one personal journey rises above the rest. The cast is generally quite good, especially Rhenzy Feliz as the son of a rich couple who begins to suspect his parents’ involvement in strange doings. Lyrica Okano is similarly appealing as his grief-stricken, sarcastic friend, who suspects her equally wealthy family is involved in the same dubious activities. James Marsters of “Buffy” is cast against type — not as a witty bad boy, but as an abusive tech billionaire. But the writing for him and other adults lacks heft and dimension, and thus it’s hard not to feel that the actor is being misused, at least in the first four episodes.

“Runaways” sets forth reasonable versions of a few different TV staples: a teen soap about conflicted rich kids; a night-time serial about devious, attractive adults whose wealth is opulently displayed (each kitchen is nicer than the last); a genre-tinged drama about murderous activity amongst shadowy acolytes; along with a couple of superhero origin stories thrown into the mix. There’s an upbeat religious group that verges on being a cult, and it of course has some dark secrets it’s hiding. As if all that wasn’t enough, “Runaways” also boasts a sub-plot that brings “Jurassic Park” to mind. 

Its a slightly overstuffed melange of TV categories, and it’s fine that the show doesn’t necessarily choose one genre. But its melding processes would work better if it all had something flashier or more emotionally weighty at its center. An unexpected death in the past has brought many of the characters to a difficult place, and the cast handles those moments well. But a little more sass or humor would have helped divert the viewer from all the plot machinery. There are well-timed asides, but “Runaways” notably lacks the irreverence of some of Schwartz’s previous work, especially the zippy “Chuck.”

Ultimately, “Runaways” seems a little too tentative for its own good — which is weird, given that the drama is about wielding power, for both good and ill. 

Drama; 10 episodes (4 reviewed); Hulu; 3 episodes debut Tues., Nov. 21, weekly episodes thereafter. 60 min.

Cast, Rhenzy Feliz, Ariela Barer, Lyrica Okano, James Marsters, Kevin Weisman, Brigid Brannah, Gregg Sulkin, Virginia Gardner, Allegra Acosta, Annie Wersching, Ryan Sands, Angel Parker, Ever Carradine, James Yaegashi, Brittany Ishibashi, Kip Pardue, Julian McMahon.

Executive producers, Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage, Jeph Loeb, Brett Morgen, Alan Fine, Joe Queseda, Stan Lee, Karim Zreik, Jim Chory.

TV Review: 'Marvel's Runaways' on Hulu

More TV

  • A.P. BIO -- "Melvin" Episode 208

    'AP Bio' Canceled After Two Seasons at NBC

    “AP Bio” has been canceled at NBC. Series creator Mike O’Brien shared the news with fans on Twitter, writing that “This has been my favorite project of my life.” In the single-camera comedy, Glenn Howerton portrayed a disgraced Harvard philosophy scholar who lost out on his dream job and was forced to return to Toledo, [...]

  • James Holzhauer $2 million

    'Jeopardy!' Champion James Holzhauer Hits $2 Million Winnings Milestone

    This current “Jeopardy!” player has just won over $2 million on the popular game show. Who is James Holzhauer? The 34 year old professional sports gambler from Las Vegas has hit a “Jeopardy!” milestone by becoming only the second person in the show’s history to win over $2 million in regular season play. Holzhauer won [...]

  • Kanye West Shares a Memory of

    Kanye West Shares a Touching Memory of His Mother in Letterman Interview

    In a preview of David Letterman’s interview with Kanye West, which begins streaming next Friday, May 31, the musician’s wife Kim Kardashian West, tweeted a clip of him sharing a touching memory of his mother, Donda, who died in 2007 after a surgical procedure. While his wife looks on smiling, West answers Letterman’s question about [...]

  • CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism

    CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism Staffers

    CNN has laid off a handful of staffers from its health-journalism unit after deciding to place its health, climate and Southeastern newsgathering operations under a single aegis. ” As part of the normal course of business, our newsgathering team made a small restructure earlier this week that ultimately impacts 6-7 employees within CNN’s Health Unit,” [...]

  • Henry Ian Cusick

    'Lost' Star Henry Ian Cusick Signs With Buchwald (EXCLUSIVE)

    Henry Ian Cusick, best known for playing Desmond on the hit ABC series “Lost,” is signing with talent agency Buchwald for representation. Cusick also starred in the CW sci-fi/drama “The 100” and was most recently seen in the Fox series “The Passage.” His other notable television credits include “Scandal,” “24,” “Fringe,” “The Mentalist,” “Body of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content