Scott D. Pierce: Can ‘Power’ join list of TV’s top 8 mob shows?

First Published      Last Updated Jun 06 2014 04:36 pm

Starz has "Power." But this new gangster series hasn't got a whole lot of its own energy.

The series centers on James "Ghost" St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick), a New York drug dealer who yearns to go straight and sees his new, ultrahip nightclub as the way to do that. But he's got a ruthless drug lord (Enrique Murciano), a brutal henchman (Joseph Sikora) and an avaricious wife (Naturi Naughton) standing in his way.

And a major effort by the FBI to bring down the ruthless drug lord may catch Ghost in its net.

This being Starz, "Power" is loaded with nudity, graphic sex and extreme violence — including disturbing torture scenes.

Oh, and Curtis James Jackson III — aka 50 Cent — is an executive producer and plays a small part in the series.

"Power" — which is a really terrible title, by the way — is filled with elements so familiar to the gangster-show genre they're clichés. And the law-enforcement characters are largely caricatures. What it has going for it is Hardwick, who turns in a compelling performance.

("Power" premieres Saturday at 7, 8:05 and 9:10 p.m. on Starz.)

It's hard to look good, however, when you're trying to channel everything from "The Godfather" to "Scarface," "GoodFellas" to "Donnie Brasco."

And, while there haven't been a whole lot of shows that centered on mobsters, there have been some that were/are really good.

8. "Brotherhood" (2006-08) • This drama revolved around two brothers. One was a politician who tried to do good; the other was a ruthless member of the Irish Mafia.

7. "Crime Story" (1986-88) • This period piece about the battle between a good FBI agent and a wiseguy included one of the great cliffhangers of all time, which centered on an atomic bomb test in the Nevada desert.

6. "Wiseguy" (1987-90) • This series about a undercover FBI agent infiltrating the mob used long story arcs — common in crime dramas today, but not in the late 1980s.

5. "Boardwalk Empire" (2010 -) • This compelling period piece about a gangster who controls Atlantic City during Prohibition is based on fact. And this adaptation of the facts is great TV.

4. "The Wire" (2002-08) • This was not a traditional mob show. It broke the mold in its portrayal of drug gangs.

3. "The Untouchables" (1959-63 ) • This show was ahead of its time and made Eliot Ness a household name.

2. "Sons of Anarchy" (2008 -) • Hands down, the best motorcycle-gang show ever. OK, not much competition there, but this is a seriously good series.

1. "The Sopranos" (1999-2007) • You didn't think anything else would top this list, did you? Despite the unsatisfying ending of the series, Tony Soprano remains one of the great TV characters of all time.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.