This article is about the TV series. For other uses, see Nevers (disambiguation).
American science fiction drama television series
The Nevers is an American science fictiondrama television series created by Joss Whedon for HBO. The series is produced by HBO and Mutant Enemy Productions with executive producers including Whedon, Philippa Goslett, Doug Petrie, Jane Espenson, Ilene S. Landress and Bernadette Caulfield. The series premiered on April 11, 2021. The first season will consist of 12 episodes, split into two six-episode parts, with the second half debuting in 2022.
The series is set in VictorianLondon and follows a group of people, mostly women, known as the Touched, who suddenly manifest abnormal abilities. Among them are Amalia True, a mysterious and quick-fisted widow, and her best friend Penance Adair, a brilliant inventor. The series received a straight-to-series order from HBO in June 2018, after a bidding war with other networks and streaming services including Netflix. Laura Donnelly was the first actress to join the series in April 2019, with the rest of the cast joining in July 2019.
The Nevers is described as "an epic science fiction drama about a gang of Victorian[s] who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world."
- Laura Donnelly as Zephyr Alexis Navine / Amalia True: One of The Touched, with the ability to see glimpses of the future. The most irresponsible, spontaneous, and psychologically broken hero of 19th-century London, and a danger to the British elite. She is dedicated to her cause and never turns down a drink.
- Ann Skelly as Penance Adair: Amalia's best friend, and a Touched with the power of 'seeing' electrical energy patterns and a skill for inventing. She is both religious and heretically progressive.
- Olivia Williams as Lavinia Bidlow: A rich spinster supporter of the Touched, and patron of the Orphanage where many of the main characters live.
- James Norton as Hugo Swann: An aristocratic pansexual young man, who owns a private club and specializes in extortion.
- Tom Riley as Augustus "Augie" Bidlow: A kind gentleman bird watcher, Lavinia's brother and secretly one of the Touched.
- Pip Torrens as Lord Gilbert Massen: A former military man and strong supporter of the British Empire, and very skeptical regarding people with extraordinary powers.
- Denis O'Hare as Dr. Edmund Hague: A brutal American surgeon who is experimenting on the Touched.
- Rochelle Neil as Annie Carbey, aka Bonfire Annie: A criminal with the ability to generate balls of flame.
- Amy Manson as Maladie / Sarah: An unstable member of The Touched living underground. Originally known as Sarah, Maladie is not only in charge of a band of renegades, but is on a killing spree. Maladie also disguises herself as Effie Boyle, a deceased journalist. Manson is credited with the pseudonym Margaret Tuttle when Effie appears.
- Zackary Momoh as Doctor Horatio Cousens: A West Indian physician. Amalia was there when he discovered his own power to heal. He collaborates with her, and the Beggar King.
- Eleanor Tomlinson as Mary Brighton: A failed singer who has a big surprise ahead of her.
- Nick Frost as Declan Orrun, aka The Beggar King: Charismatic and brutal, Declan is in command of London's low-level criminals. Sometimes he works with Amalia and her cause – and sometimes he is just as happy to sell them out.
- Elizabeth Berrington as Lucy Best: A former thief from an extremely poor upbringing who can shatter whatever she touches.
- Viola Prettejohn as Myrtle Haplisch: An omniglot who can understand any spoken language although her own words come out in randomly shifting languages that she cannot control.
- Anna Devlin as Primrose Chattoway: A sixteen-year-old girl who is ten feet tall.
- Kiran Sonia Sawar as Harriet Kaur: A Scottish Sikh who lives at the orphanage; her breath turns things into glass. She dreams of being a lawyer.
- Ben Chaplin as Inspector Frank Mundi: A large and gruff policeman with a strong sense of morals. He has a reputation for violence and heavy drinking.
- Ella Smith as Desirée Blodgett: A prostitute who causes others around her to pour out secrets when they are feeling strong emotions.
- Vinnie Heaven as Nimble Jack: A young thief and member of the Touched who is notorious for breaking and entering and is capable of creating floating disks that can be used as shields or as stepping stones for accessing high places.
- Martyn Ford as Nicholas Parbel “Odium”: A henchman of the Beggar King and a Touched whose body repels water; however, this prevents him from bathing.
- Mark Benton as The Colonel: a follower of Maladie and a Touched with a power of persuasion.
- David Garrick as Winemar Kroos: a follower of Maladie and a Touched who generates bullets from his right arm.
- Rupert Vansittart as Lord Broughton: a member of Massen's coordinating group.
- Andrew Havill as Douglas Broome: a member of Massen's coordinating group.
- Timothy Bentinck as General Pecking: a member of Massen's coordinating group.
- Nicholas Farrell as Prince Albrecht: a member of Massen's coordinating group.
- Tim Steed as Lord Allaven Tyne: a member of Massen's coordinating group.
- Domenique Fragale as Elisabetta "Beth" Cassini: an Italian immigrant and Touched woman whose turn allows her to make objects levitate.
- Zain Hussain as Aneel: a member of the Touched and a friend of Harriet.
On July 13, 2018, it was announced that HBO had given the production a straight-to-series order. Joss Whedon would serve as a writer, director, executive producer and showrunner for the series. The series landed at HBO after a bidding war with other networks and streaming services including Netflix. Whedon explained the title at Comic-Con 2018:
They, themselves are not called that [The Nevers] in the show. It's a phrase that's meant to evoke a sort of reaction to their oddity, to what is considered unnatural. The idea that you should never be like this, you should never have existed. Something is not the way it should be, and you don't have the right to have whatever weird power or ability that you have. And that idea, that some people are not of the natural order, is fascinating to me. I don't agree with it. But to me, it's one of those things where you take something negative, and you wear it as a badge of honor, basically. Certain things could never happen - they're happening. And the people they're happening to are taking their place in the world.
Cast and crew
In April 2019, Laura Donnelly was cast in the starring role of Amalia True. Whedon spoke about her, "Laura Donnelly has charisma, wisdom and an anarchic precision that not only captures Amalia but defines her. She's fierce and she's funny – and I need both for the journey ahead." In July 2019, twelve actors were added to the cast, including Ann Skelly as Penance Adair, Olivia Williams as Lavinia Bidlow, James Norton as Hugo Swann, Tom Riley as Augustus "Augie" Bidlow, Pip Torrens as Lord Massen, Denis O'Hare as Dr. Edmund Hague, Rochelle Neil as Annie Carbey, Amy Manson as Maladie, Zackary Momoh as Doctor Horatio Cousens, Eleanor Tomlinson as Mary Brighton, Nick Frost as Declan Orrun, and Ben Chaplin as Inspector Frank Mundi. One month later, Elizabeth Berrington, Viola Prettejohn, Anna Devlin, Kiran Sonia Sawar, and Ella Smith were all cast in main roles Lucy Best, Myrtle Haplisch, Primrose Chattaway, Harriet Kaur, and Desirée Blodgett. Also in August, Martyn Ford was cast in there recurring role of Nicolas Perbal, also known as Odium.
In the fifth episode, the character Effie Boyle is introduced. Effie is revealed to be one of Maladie's victims, with the Effie seen in the episode being Maladie herself in disguise. In order to create the illusion of Maladie posing as Effie, Amy Manson used makeup, wore a fat suit and then the look was altered in post-production using Computer-generated imagery. In an attempt to fool the audience, a fake name "Margaret Tuttle" was added to IMDb as the actress playing Effie. Executive producers include Bernadette Caulfield, Jane Espenson, and Doug Petrie. Espenson and Petrie, who worked with Whedon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, will serve as writers.Laurie Penny is also part of the series' writing staff.Gemma Jackson serves as production designer.Academy Award winner Christine Blundell served as the hair and makeup designer. She said that inspiration came from modern-day punk in order to help with the visual world of the series. In June 2021, HBO announced that Andrew Bernstein had joined the series as an executive producer and director.
On July 4, 2019, Whedon announced that principal photography had started, with filming occurring in London. In July 2019, it was reported that scenes had been filmed at Trinity Church Square, and in the New Wimbledon Theatre area. In August 2019, scenes were filmed at Chatham Historic Dockyard in Kent. In late January 2020, shooting took place at Joyce Grove, an Oxfordshire country house estate in the Jacobean style. The building will double as The Orphanage. Due to the lack of studio space in London, HBO worked with Adrian Wootton, CEO of Film London and the British Film Commission, to find warehouse spaces and old industrial spaces in which they could base the production.
The series completed production on the first five of its ten-episode order before production was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Filming resumed in September and production was completed by the end of October. In February 2021, Bloys confirmed that the first season would consist of 10 episodes that would be broken into two airing blocks, due to the production shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The season's episode count was then extended to 12 episodes.
Production on the final six episodes of the first season began in June 2021 in the UK.
Speaking to the break in the release schedule between episodes six and seven due to production issues, HBO and HBO Max chief content officer Casey Bloys stated, "And there was kind of a natural narrative break at six. So that was the thought then was to air six episodes. So at least we had something to put out there for subscribers and fans." Bloys also said that Goslett and her team of writers are working through the second batch of scripts now and "we'll get a better sense of timing" when those will air as "the weeks go on." In March 2021, it was clarified that the first season was extended from 10 to 12 episodes, with the second part of the first season also consisting of 6 episodes. Vanessa Armstrong of Syfy.com wrote that star Laura Donnelly thought the script for the series' sixth episode was "so bonkers" that she "initially thought that they got sent the wrong script."
On November 25, 2020, Whedon announced that he was stepping down from the series citing various reasons for his decision in "this year of unprecedented challenges." In a released statement he explained that the taxing nature of working on such a project during the global coronavirus pandemic had taken a toll on his energy levels, and confirmed rumors that he would be officially exiting the series. On January 28, 2021, British screenwriter Philippa Goslett was announced as the new showrunner. In response to the accusations of workplace harassment against Whedon on his prior projects, Bloys stated that "we had no complaints or no reports of inappropriate behavior" regarding his work on The Nevers. Nevertheless, Whedon's involvement was not acknowledged in the marketing of the series, although he was still properly credited for his work. Afterwards, series regular Denis O'Hare, who portrays Doctor Edmund Hague, noted that he was unaware of the misconduct allegations aimed at Whedon at the time and said that the whole cast was worried about the continued filming of the first season. O'Hare did praise Goslett, calling the new showrunner "the exact right choice" and "I think there's some writing staff that's remaining the same. Whenever they're changing a writer, let alone a showrunner, you don't know what's going to happen to your character."
The Nevers premiered on April 11, 2021, on HBO and is set to consist of 12 episodes, split into two 6-episode parts. The series' official trailer was released on March 23, 2021. The second half of the first season will premiere in 2022.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the series has an approval rating of 50% based on reviews from 64 critics, with an average rating of 5.82/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Despite strong performances and stellar production design, The Nevers struggles to stitch its slew of intriguing components into a solid show." On Metacritic, the series has a score of 56 out of 100 based on 26 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Ed Cumming of The Independent gave the series three stars out of five, calling it "overstuffed junk shop of ideas" and disliked too many "themes of alienation and acceptance unfold amid horse-drawn chases, expensive special effects, high-society orgies, corset brawls, and wainscoting aplenty."BBC Online's Scott Bryan called it "just a bit too weighted down." Wenlei Ma of News.com.au said The Nevers is "a distillation of Whedon's best and worst filmmaking impulses. It needs someone with a more disciplined eye to cut half of its many dangling threads and subplots."
In a positive review by Lorraine Ali from the Los Angeles Times, she wrote, "The Nevers is a joy to watch and a thrill to follow. Supernatural realism, complex storytelling, fantastical powers and topical realties meet in this smart, suspenseful and colorful production. A litany of nuanced characters keeps this otherworldly tale grounded. Suspenseful sleuthing and action-packed battles move the story along at a rapid clip. And all the lush scenery and ambitious wardrobe along the way". Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter gave it a more mixed review, writing that the series is "in desperate need of focus, and as episodes progress, more and more characters are added and the connection to the richest thematic throughline becomes increasingly tenuous". However, Fienberg praised Whedon's directing, as well as the production design and costumes.
Ben Travers of IndieWire criticized the series, saying "The Nevers' inconsistencies can make for a maddening viewing experience — sending you from the edge of your seat to sprawled out on the floor, trying to find your eyes after they rolled out of your head — and far too many parts make zero sense whatsoever," however Travers went on to say that he would continue watching it and that even though Joss Whedon left the show during production, he had left his mark on it. A three-star review on The Guardian called the series "mess, within and without" and compared it to Enola Holmes and Penny Dreadful. Darren Franich of Entertainment thought "True" made the series much more interesting, saying "the sixth episode of The Nevers is the troubled HBO drama's best hour yet", but also noted that this development in the plot may have come too late.
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Imagine the X-Men (or, should I say X-Women) in Victorian society and you get The Nevers. In this case, Joss Whedon gives the viewer an incredible new world with fascinating characters dressed in fabulous costumes. On 8/3/1896, for some reason, mostly women received extraordinary abilities or biological anomalies, depending on your perspective. They were “touched,” but by God or by the Devil? Like the X-Men, some in society want them eliminated, some want them protected. Although not a direct parallel to Charles Xavier, benefactor Lavinia Bidlow is in a wheelchair. Not all of those with “gifts” are “good guys,” as Maladie is currently on a killing spree. Introducing twenty new characters is never simple, and The Nevers is no different in that regard. Still, I can’t wait for Episode Two.
The Nevers is a six-part series shown weekly at 9:00PM on Sunday nights. Shown below is the “prototype” motorized three wheel vehicle shot out of the back of a stagecoach chased by bad guys with shotguns. That scene alone was worth the proverbial price of admission. Penance Adair’s “superpower” is that she is an “inventress.” Though much more sophisticated, her gadgets remind one of Robert Conrad and The Wild Wild West TV show of 1960’s.
Ms. Adair is the best friend of Amalia True who runs the Orphanage. Amalia has the ability to see snippets of the future “sometimes more confusing than enlightening.” She also can kick butt. Together, they must gather the “touched,” not “so they will be safe, but so they will be less lonely. That will be a start.” It’s never quite fair to rate a show after but one episode, but “intrigued” is my impression. I give The Nevers a 4.0 Gavel start, much higher than the critics 52% Rotten Tomatoes rating with the viewer 7.0/10 IMDb score somewhere in the middle.
Amalia and Penance receive the call to help Myrtle Haplisch, who can only speak in foreign languages. They interrupt Shock Troopers attempting to kidnap her. Foiling the crime, they wonder why would someone try to kidnap Myrtle, and if she’s the first. Meanwhile, Lord Massen and the government watch the “touched” with great concern. Aware of Maladie’s killing spree, just what is the extent of the threat? Horatio Cousens has the power to heal, but afraid to be labeled a voodoo doctor. Hugo Swann runs a private club, The Ferryman’s, who sole purpose seems to extort his customers, perhaps including “partner” Detective Mundi. Lavinia Bidlow supports the Orphanage because “it’s time society accepted the ‘touched” are amongst us.”
Direct from Outlander, Laura Donnelly provides the skill and mystery that is Amalia True. While Penance Adair, acted by Ann Skelly, may appear a little ditzy, never underestimate her intelligence and loyalty. From priest on Grantchester to pansexual and sex club owner, James Norton makes the huge transition to Hugo Swann. Fans of Poldark will recognize Eleanor Tomlinson as Mary Brighton. Her song tells “the touched” they belong here. Consistent with a production of this quality, this is just a few of an impressive cast.
Notably, the dialogue is top-notch. For example, Lord Massen is “the last line of defense against the scourge of modernity.” Did allegations of misconduct cause HBO to remove Joss Whedon from The Nevers in November 2020? Does that influence opinion of the show?
“The visuals dazzle and the action scenes thrill on a show that’s part X-Men and part Doctor Who.” Chicago Sun-Times
“It would fit a tidy narrative if The Nevers was terrible . . . but it’s not. The rollicking pilot, which Whedon wrote and directed, is the most unexpectedly entertaining, hour-long TV joyride so far this year.” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The verdict of the critics is decidedly mixed. It’s your turn. Or, as they might say in The Nevers, “what’s your ‘turn’?”
‘The Nevers’ Debuts to Best Ratings for Original Series on HBO Max With 1.4 Million Viewers
- 12 April 2021
- by Tim Baysinger
- The Wrap
HBO’s newest series “The Nevers” drew 1.4 million viewers across all platforms, including HBO Max, on Sunday night. That matched the overall premiere viewership for last summer’s HBO series “Lovecraft Country.”
Those views are spread out between the linear HBO channel, including Sunday night replays, as well as streaming service HBO Max. On HBO Max specifically, “The Nevers” had the best opening for an HBO original series, surpassing both “Lovecraft Country” and “The Undoing,” the latter of which went on to be HBO’s most-watched series of 2020.
The finale of “The Undoing” drew 3 million viewers in November, HBO’s biggest audience since the Season 2 finale of “Big Little Lies” in 2019.
“The Nevers” is set in Victorian England, during a time when London is beset by the “Touched” people (mostly women) who suddenly manifest abnormal abilities — some charming, some very disturbing. Among them are Amalia True (Laura Donnelly), a mysterious,
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Why The Nevers Reviews Are So Bad
Expectations were high for Joss Whedon's new Victorian sci-fi drama, The Nevers, but the series is being considered a miss with critics.
HBO's The Nevers has the instant appeal for being a sci-fi drama, but the Joss Whedon series falls flat with critics based on the poor reviews. Whedon, who directed the series debut, as long as a handful of other episodes in the series, has since stepped down as showrunner. Still, there were high expectations for what was initially advertised as a Victorian superhero series. After debuting on April 11 through HBO and HBO Max, The Nevers fails to justify the hype.
HBO received the rights to The Nevers after winning the bidding war involved with Whedon's original series. The show itself centers on a gang of Victorian women who discover they have strange abilities. These women (referred to as the "Touched") find themselves caught up in a special mission that has the power to change the world. Aside from renegades with other supernatural abilities, the Touched are forced to deal with threats ranging from petty criminals to those with stronger forces at the ready.
Related: The Nevers Powers Explained: Every Touched Person’s Turn
While The Nevers features a notable cast including Laura Donnelly, Ann Skelly, Olivia Williams, James Norton, Pip Torrens, and Denis O'Hare, the show has been clouded in controversy surrounding Whedon's involvement with the HBO series. Despite stepping down due to personal reasons stemming from pandemic-related issues, ongoing workplace harassment scandals connected to Whedon have affected his reputation. The original creator's name wasn't used in marketing material leading up to the April debut. It's unclear how much of the scandals have affected the perception of The Nevers going in, but it may not have mattered. The series currently holds a 52% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while the audience score is just a notch higher at 57%. The ratings on IMDb and Metacritic are not much better, with a consensus describing the plot as muddled and lacking focus. While The Nevers' ensemble cast gives the show a lot of room to work with, critics claim there's an overwhelmingness with the number of subplots. Here's what some of the more negative reviews had to say:
Had the series slowly fleshed out its core premise and introduced its characters with better purpose, perhaps “The Nevers” could have avoided its own “turn” into nonsensical hooey. For every beat that strikes the right tone, there’s at least one that’s laughably over-the-top or utterly indecipherable. Too many early action scenes fail to articulate the stakes (or even who’s fighting). Too many performances chew the scenery so ferociously you can see hear it in their slobbering British accents. Too many plot holes expand beyond control, and too many “turns” undercut their characters.
Even at this relatively early point, though, The Nevers is a show in desperate need of focus, and as episodes progress, more and more characters are added and the connection to the richest thematic throughline becomes increasingly tenuous. In familiar Whedon fashion, deaths are leveraged for hollow emotion and every time there's an opportunity to find new layers in the characters we know, the show gets distracted by something shiny, new and usually less interesting.
But even if Whedon still had the pristine cult-icon image from the turn of the century, The Nevers would still be a disappointment. It has many of the elements you would expect from a Whedon show, and on a greater scale than any of the older ones, but some pieces only occasionally come into focus. Others leave you wondering why they’re around at all.
There might have been a way to salvage such an unwieldy plot, so that a show whose dialogue, production values and acting (especially Donnelly’s lead performance) are above average for Dickenscore could at least hold viewers’ attention, the way the even-sillier Irregulars does. But the incomprehensibility of storytelling that barely allows time for us to register a character’s existence before moving on to a new set of faces, ensures that The Nevers is rarely fun.
Though there's a failure in being drawn to certain characters, some critics and viewers are praising the performance of the cast for what they were given to work with. The direction of the story might be a negative aspect, but there seems to be an appreciation for the visuals and costumes depicting the 19th century London setting. Obviously, there's still time for the HBO series to flip reception, and many are intrigued by the chaos and twists. That said, here's what some of the more positive reviewers point out:
Los Angeles Times:
The Nevers is for anyone who loved Penny Dreadful or Harlots, WandaVision or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This period drama about the persecution — and power — of the marginalized goes wide on genre appeal, while homing in on painfully contemporary themes. And it’s full of riddles designed to keep us hooked.
It’s a world rich with compelling characters, narrative possibilities and actors up to the task of making their parts sing. [Laura] Donnelly and [Ann] Skelly are especially good as the show’s central odd couple, their friendship anchoring “Nevers” as its mysteries unfurl and the stakes get impossibly high.
Whedon arguably nailed the setting and fantasy immensity when it came to the development of The Nevers. Still, it remains to be seen if the story gets on track in later episodes after Philippa Goslett took over. The series certainly has genre appeal on its side; it's just a matter of building a cohesive plot while utilizing characters that viewers grow connected to. The first six episodes of The Nevers season 1 will run through mid-May, while the remaining four episodes in the future. However, if the reception remains negative, viewers might not want to stick around for the second batch.
More: HBO Max: Every Movie & TV Show Coming In April 2021
The Book Of Boba Fett Proves Disney Has A Star Wars Prequel ProblemAbout The Author
Kara Hedash is a features editor and writer for Screen Rant. From time to time, she dives into the world's most popular franchises but Kara primarily focuses on evergreen topics. The fact that she gets to write about The Office regularly is like a dream come true. Before joining Screen Rant, Kara served as a contributor for Movie Pilot and had work published on The Mary Sue and Reel Honey. After graduating college, writing began as a part-time hobby for Kara but it quickly turned into a career. She loves binging a new series and watching movies ranging from Hollywood blockbusters to hidden indie gems. She also has a soft spot for horror ever since she started watching it at too young of an age. Her favorite Avenger is Thor and her favorite Disney princess is Leia Organa. When Kara's not busy writing, you can find her doing yoga or hanging out with Gritty.
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