Powerless: Did NBC Bet on a Wayner? – TV Review

*** This will be as spoiler-free as possible. It’s more of a recommendation***

Let’s start with the one thing I say the most in TV reviews: Judging an entire season or series on just one episode is like judging an entire book on just one chapter. It’s stupid. But I do like to chime in after a show’s pilot to see if there’s enough to keep us coming back. Now that I’ve seen Powerless ep. 1, will I keep watching?

If you don’t already know, Powerless takes place in the DC Comics universe – Arrow, Flash, Supergirl – but chooses to take the sitcom-ish, lighthearted approach. The show centers on a Wayne Security office tasked with creating safety products for a populace constantly in danger of super villains or falling debris. It’s a 30-minute format offering cheeky nods to both DC heroes and baddies.

From the jump you’re following Vanessa Hudgens’ character, Emily, who’s heading to her first day at her new job in Charm City. Her boss, played by fan-favorite Alan Tudyk, is irritating and shallow as is most of her newly helmed staff. Right away you’re going to see faces you recognize from other comedies and – if you’re like me – you’ll be expecting a hilarious good time. I mean, finally, a super hero comedy!

Emily leads a team tasked with creating a company-saving device as Wayne Security is slipping behind its Lex-branded competitors. So with little lead in, the show gets right to it. Now, if you’ve been following Powerless’ journey from conception to creation you know it’s been reworked and the pilot has been reshot, but is what we have now better than what was originally offered? I didn’t see that first pilot, but I have some issues with the current one.

It feels like what NBC wants is a DCU meets Parks & Recreation workplace comedy filling a void left by the other, more serious, DC-themed shows. It offers a great cast, really good production value and a clean, quick 30 minutes. But I was really left feeling uninterested and a little bored. Sadly, the show does almost nothing to exploit the strong cast. Writing being the main issue, none of the characters get fleshed out despite spotlighting the headliners throughout the show’s opener. Everything felt rushed.

The humor is stiff and generic focusing on one-liners and obvious cliches instead of thoughtful, clever innuendos. There’s no diversity between any of the non-Emily characters in what they’re tasked to do on screen. For a show based on the absurd, it’s humor is painfully below average. Running right along side the show’s creators reluctance to embrace the situation is their tongue-and-cheek inclusion of the DC elements. You could take all the hero stuff out and it would still just be an Office knock off. Instead of diving headlong into the superhero aspect, it’s somehow secondary in a show whose name is literally based on heroes with powers.

Pass or Play?

Despite a strong cast, Powerless is also a bit aimless. DC fans have plenty to watch and sitcom viewers will find their funny elsewhere. I really appreciate the concept and had high hopes for this series, but based on its initial offering, I have to say PASS.

I’ll give it another few episodes and post an update if my opinion changes, so stay tuned!

But by all means, be your own judge, it’s just a half hour after all. Powerless is on NBC, Thursdays @ 7:30 CST

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About The Author

Michael Pellegrini

Michael is a classic example of a child trapped in an adult's body - and I use the word "adult" very, very loosely. With interests ranging from comic books and movies to theater and fine art, Mike has followed humble journalistic beginnings that have led to interviews, reviews, news write-ups and opinion - though it's ever changing - pieces covering those same interests. All of that brings us here, to a site where a community of like-minded geeks can inform the rest of the world on the topics we adore. And on the personal side of things, Michael squeezes time for his lovely wife and house full of dogs between all the comic reading and video game playing.

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