It looks like NBC is still struggling to find its superhero show. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 11 years since Heroes first premiered and there has not really been a home run super hero show since. The last foray for NBC was the butchered Constantine, and to nobody’s surprise it was cancelled after one season. Enter, Powerless, another show taking place in the DC Universe and a huge 180 from Constantine.
The plot centers around Emily Locke (played by Vanessa Hudgens), a bubbly, optimistic, wide-eyed new R&D Director for Wayne Security in Charm City (which looks nothing like Baltimore). Her job is to develop products to help the average citizen safely survive the destruction and mayhem caused by battles fought between superheroes and villains. Alan Tudyk plays her boss Van Wayne, who is desperate to go work with his cousin Bruce in Gotham (just in case you didn’t know, he is an actual canon character).
Did I mention that this is supposed to be a comedy? It’s an important note to make about this show. Powerless represents a little levity that many of us could use from the more serious side of shows such as Arrow, Gotham and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The problem is, the opening show is just not that funny. Sure, it’s common for some (heck, actually most) comedy pilots to not be that good at the start, but this one really struggles out of the gate to find its place. The comedy in this pilot is all over the place with ”wanna-be” zingy lines and attempts at deadpan humor, most of which fails spectacularly. Some of the sight gags are worth a chuckle or 2, but most of it is forgettable.
I think what really works against this show is Hudgens herself, who seems like she is the square peg going into the round hole. Her acting seems to be a bit forced and grating as she interacts with the rest of the cast. I didn’t feel for her character at all being in the situation she’s in, trying to make this ragtag crew into a team.
Maybe it’s wrong, but I was actually more cheering for Jackie, (Christina Kirk) who is Emily’s assistant. Even though she is a fangirl, she just looks to be on edge.
Being that this is a DC property, there was one other upside. That was the appearance of another obscure character: Crimson Fox. We’ve seen her previously on Justice League Unlimited, although her power set has been changed for her spot on Powerless. No further word has been made about any other canon appearances by other DC characters, however.
It’s going to be hard to give this one a chance, as this was honestly one of the longest half hours of television I have ever watched. Here’s hoping that if this lasts, maybe the writers can figure out where they want this show to go and work on the humor. It wouldn’t hurt for them to also add a bit of a darker edge when it comes to what they do. Also, Powerless needs to avoid the mistake of trying too hard to make call-outs to characters who may never appear. It’s already enough that you have TV shows that take place in universes where we will never see the main characters, but it’s a detriment when you try to slide them in and tease audiences as well.
Maybe ABC is making notes, should they ever push ahead with Damage Control.
This gets a 1.5 Kryptonite glass panes out of 5