Wednesday, April 5, 2017

FX TV Review: Legion (2017)

Legion (2017) - Created by Noah Hawley; Starring Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Katie Aselton, Jean Smart, Jemaine Clement.

By Kenny Howell

If the little Marvel logo didn't pop up in the credits of Legion, you wouldn't even know this is a series from the comic book power.

Legion is unlike anything that has ever been on TV, delightfully confusing, amazingly imaginative, and probably the best new show on TV.

Legion follows a minor X-Men adjacent character of the same hero name, but here we know him as David (Dan Stevens). When we start, he is in a mental institution, because he has been a schizophrenic since he was a child. He falls in love with a fellow patient, Sydney (Rachel Keller), but some outside forces are interested in him. He is being interrogated about his life because they believe, rightfully so, that he has mutant powers, maybe the strongest they have ever seen.

David has been led to believe that he doesn't have powers, that it is just a part of his disease, and for the first episode or two, we have no idea what is real, whether he is schizophrenic, or something more extraordinary. Of course, as a viewer, we do know that he is a mutant, but the show does play with the notion that he might not be. It is so mind-bendingly crazy, that you have no idea what is going on. A lot of people have tuned out because of that, but I think that is a grave mistake. From there, Legion goes deeper and deeper inside Matthew's tremendously powerful brain, and it is a mighty weird place.

Legion first catches you with its aesthetics, the look of is just astounding. It looks like Stanley Kubrick's version of the future, but maybe actually takes place in the 1960s (the show is cagey on when it is). It's a clean look, complete with characters with orange and yellow track suits, just gorgeous. Then the fun with the surroundings begins as we go into Matthew's brain, and creator Noah Hawley knows just how to push that to its limits. Rooms change sometimes within the same scene, things are used in different ways, a man lives in an ice cube with a ladder that leads up to it that you need old timey scuba gear to get in and out of (I swear it makes sense, sort of). It's a visual spectacle of the highest order.

Dan Stevens, steps out of his Downton Abbey and completely disappears into this character. His manic demeanor perfectly mirrors the craziness that is this show. Add to that a supporting cast that is willing to go to the places Hawley wants to go, and you have an experience that is something like we have never seen before.

The entire first season of Legion is now streaming on Hulu.

Rating: ****

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