‘Powerless’ Is Totally Campy But Provides Much-Need Genre Levity
I can’t name a DC/Warner Bros. project quite like this! Shows like CW’s ‘The Flash‘ and ‘Supergirl‘ aren’t too dark but ‘Powerless‘ is cheerier than those. This reminds me of that signature NBC style of humor, which is always extremely hit or miss. By the time the pilot ends, all the DC references intrigue me and I find myself rooting for this team!
The show opens with an introduction to Emily Lock (Vanessa Hudgens) arriving in Charm City, where she begins work at Wayne Security. As the new director of research and development, her department finds ways to keep people safe. Emily also gets the task of having to provide a big idea to save this branch as well. It isn’t easy with boss Van Wayne (Alan Tudyk) being eager to leave for Gotham City or a team with no motivation.
Emily is the perfect character for the infamously bleak DC world. She’s filled with hope and comes off almost annoyingly positive to the negative workers of Wayne Security. Her interactions with Van Wanye’s secretary (Christina Kirk) have to be some of the best moments in this pilot. The show needs to provide more team-building with Vanessa Hudgens’ Emily and her crew. It would be a shame to see the talents of the hilarious Danny Pudi and scene-stealer Jennie Pierson go to waste.
I can see the show having a bad guy each week with the team making something to stop him and keep the people of Charm City safe but what’s the over-arching storyline? The pilot dives into Bruce Wayne, who finds this department irrelevant, wanting to shut Van’s branch but that gets a resolution by the end of the episode. I don’t see that carrying an entire season so let’s see where episode 2 takes the story.
“Now it’s all just super villains trying to destroy the earth or superheroes fighting each other for vaguely defined reasons”
-Van Wayne (Alan Tudyk)
Digging deeper into ‘Powerless‘, this is an exercise on scaling back the world of superheroes. We are getting a more grounded view of problems too small to see in huge Hollywood films. The day-to-day lives of people living in Metropolis or Gotham would be different if there was constant battles of good and evil. Having to see people deal with disaster that’s not on a massive global scale is relatable. Not only is it relatable but it’s fresh as this comes before Marvel’s version called ‘Damage Control‘ leaves development!
It surprises me on how deep this show gets into the DC lore. The comic book references are plentiful ranging from Van Wayne being Bruce Wayne’s cousin to LexCorp being a rival company. I would love to see one famous hero make it onto the show but I understand the rights to these characters can get wonky. Including DC’s Crimson Fox is a good start but let’s see if we can at least some B-List superheroes by season’s end.
What really wins me over is the stylized intro credits. Using classic DC comics is a good touch but it goes further with finding ways to put the cast into the frames. It’s awesome to see for comic fans and lets you know what ‘Powerless‘ is about.
This is NBC’s version of ‘Must-See” superhero TV!
The superhero genre hasn’t seemed this cheerful in years! The comedy writing can use work; some jokes fall flat or seem dated already. I’m also curious to see how far the premise will work for an extended time but I know it has potential to shine. If ‘Powerless‘ can improve on a serviceable pilot, this will be a hit!
The ‘Powerless‘ Series Premiere – “Wayne or Lose” aires Feb. 2 at 8:30pm on NBC!