The Nevers, hailed by The Los Angeles Times as “HBO’s next great fantasy series,” is now streaming on Showmax, with two episodes available to watch now and a new episode coming every Monday.
Billed as “The Magicians meets Bridgerton” by Refinery29, The Nevers drew over 1.4 million viewers to its premiere, the best-ever debut for an original series on HBO Max.
The Nevers kicks off in August 1896, with Victorian London rocked by a supernatural event that gives certain people – mostly women – abnormal abilities, from the wondrous to the disturbing. It falls to mysterious, quick-fisted widow Amalia True (Olivier Award winner Laura Donnelly from Outlander) and brilliant young inventor Penance Adair (Ann Skelly from Vikings) to protect and shelter this gifted new underclass, known as the Touched, behind the iron gates of Saint Romaulda’s Orphanage, while fighting the forces of… well, pretty much all the forces.
Monte-Carlo Golden Nymph nominees Olivia Williams (An Education, The Ghost Writer) and Eleanor Tomlinson (Poldark, The White Queen) play orphanage co-founder Lavinia Bidlow and songbird Mary Brighton respectively, with Screen Actors Guild nominee Pip Torrens (The Crown) as the formidable Lord Massen and Teen Choice nominee Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Into The Badlands) as the crafty Declan ‘Beggar King’ Orrun.
The Nevers’ ensemble cast also includes three-time Emmy nominee Denis O’Hare (American Gods, True Blood); BAFTA nominee James Norton (Grantchester, Happy Valley); BAFTA Cymru winner Tom Riley (Da Vinci’s Demons); BAFTA Scotland nominee Kiran Sawar (Black Mirror, The Capture); Zackary Momoh (Seven Seconds, Doctor Sleep); and Elizabeth Berrington (Sanditon, Good Omens, In Bruges).
The Nevers drew controversy late last year when Oscar-nominated series creator Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) – who directed the first three of Part 1’s six episodes – exited the show amid allegations of abusive behaviour and professional misconduct going as far back as Buffy. Philippa Goslett, who co-wrote How To Talk To Girls At Parties, has taken over as showrunner, and, with five year contracts for the likes of Williams, The Nevers remains a long-term project for HBO, whose fantasy and science fiction track record includes Game of Thrones, Watchmen, Westworld and True Blood.
After all, they have a lot to work with. “This is a show whose setups and payoffs and complexities are almost endless,” says Emmy-nominated executive producer Jane Espenson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica). “The Victorian era was this incredibly important time where everything was changing. The car had come along, women’s lives were changing, and communication was starting to be instantaneous.”
“This show has so much to say on the idea of compassion and how we connect to each other as human beings,” says Donnelly, whose character Amalia experiences a ‘rippling’ that gives her glimpses into the future. “The people who don’t hold the power are having to fight for equality, and it just seems to be so in context of the world that we’re in right now.”
While the shadow over Whedon has dampened some of the reviews, Variety calls The Nevers “an engaging page-turner of a show;” TV Guide “a clever, action-packed thrill ride;” and The Los Angeles Times “a joy to watch and a thrill to follow.”
The first season of The Nevers is being released in two parts, the first of which is six episodes. With filming still constrained by the ongoing pandemic, the release date for Part 2 of the first season is yet to be announced.