TV Show Review: Legion
Starring Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, and Jeremie Harris
Created by Noah Hawley (Based on the Marvel Comic by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz)
Wednesdays at 10PM on FX
My Rating: *****/5
In this day and age, the comic book TV series has become every bit as prevalent and well-made as the comic book movie, and FX has continued that level of quality with the series “Legion.” While adapting this Marvel series is a lot to live up to based on the comic’s legacy, Noah Hawley has crafted one of the best series on FX since his adaptation of the Coen brothers’ classic “Fargo.”
The series follows David Haller (Stevens) as he is being contained in the Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital. While many believe Haller has been schizophrenic since childhood, his experiences while committed instead show the awakenings of his mutant powers. With the help of fellow patients Sydney “Syd” Barrett (Keller) and Lenny “Cornflakes” Busker (Plaza), Haller escapes from the compound and goes on a journey to master his growing powers in a dark and mind-bending experience that makes it one of the best shows on FX right now.
Although the comic book of the same name by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz is one of the more cultish spinoffs of the “X-Men” universe, Hawley’s approach to the material captures the feeling of dealing with mental illness far better than many other works of fiction that are explicitly about these conditions.
The series also boasts a highly distinct visual style that compliments Haller’s role as an “unreliable narrator.” The production design combines elements of period styles from the 1960s with modern flourishes. “Syd” Barrett is named for the late guitarist of Pink Floyd, and the facility at Clockworks has a new HDTV despite the patients all being dressed in ‘60s-style clothing and hairstyles. Haller’s journey is also shown in a haunting opening from infancy to adulthood set to “Happy Jack” by The Who.
While the series could go in any direction from the pilot, “Legion” has already established itself as one of the most promising shows of 2017 from the word go. Be sure to keep an eye on where the journey goes over the course of this year, since Hawley has easily done the lineage of the comic justice with this series.
Review by Steven Pryor