Powerless Series Premiere Review

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By: Haylee Fisher (@haylee_fisher)

In a television landscape saturated with superhero shows, Powerless stands out on premise alone and is a distinct counterpart to the darkness and brooding often associated with the medium.

Powerless is DC Comics’ first foray into comedy, and it’s a campy one at that. In a world where superheroes battle in the middle of the city, our cast of characters has become immune to the appearance of and subsequent destruction caused by those fights, almost feeling like they’re a borderline nuisance. To everyone except Emily Locke (Vanessa Hudgens), the newest hire at Wayne Security, that is. Wayne Security may develop tools to protect innocent bystanders from superhero collateral damage, but Emily has been tasked with whipping the R&D department into shape, taking them in a new direction, and inspiring them to create a new invention to impress upper management, namely Bruce Wayne.

However, Bruce doesn’t make an appearance on the show, but his cousin Van Wayne, played by Alan Tudyk, does. Tudyk is hilarious – but when is he not on point? – and while some of his jokes are a little predictable (in one scene, he says he’s a “big picture guy” and then literally stands next to a big picture of himself), viewers will still find themselves laughing at his seemingly never-ending mission to get his cousin on the phone.

Though Tudyk’s character has the Wayne name, he’s not the lead. Hudgens arguably possesses that title and while her character’s sunny, optimistic disposition never wavers, Hudgens overacts those characteristics, playing Emily with said bright-eyed wonder that could stand to be taken down a few notches. Hopefully she’ll settle in to the character more as the show goes on.

Rounding out the cast are Danny Pudi, Ron Funches, and Christina Kirk, the hapless, annoyed team Hudgens has been hired to lead. In the beginning, they’re almost hostile toward her, but time will tell if the teamwork displayed at the end of the episode was just a fluke or if they’re actually on the way to building a relationship with their new boss.

Powerless clearly endeavors to stand among NBC’s previous workplace comedies like The Office and Parks and Recreation, but while its premise is clever, the concept isn’t fully realized in the pilot alone. But like those prior shows, maybe it will need a few episodes to find its footing. With comedic powerhouses in Tudyk and Pudi, though, hopefully doing so sooner rather than later won’t be a superhuman task and Powerless can become another feather in the cap of the DCTV lineup.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


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