‘Powerless’ holds potential
Superhero movies and tv shows have become more and more popular in recent years. “Powerless,” a new series from NBC, takes this concept in a new direction. The sitcom airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. and focuses on the story of ordinary citizens living in the calamity caused by the epic clashes between heroes and villains in the DC universe.
Vanessa Hudgens stars as Emily Locke, the optimistic small town girl who moves to Charm City to start a new job working for Wayne Security, a company owned by Wayne Enterprises (yes, that Wayne). Wayne Security is a company dedicated to making the world safer for non-heroes by inventing gadgets that may help them avoid the dangerous collateral of superhuman battles. For example, in one episode the team attempts to develop an umbrella that will protect the holder from debris from falling buildings.
In her new job as Director of Research and Development, Emily encounters an eccentric and egotistical boss, Van Wayne (Alan Tudyk), a cousin of Bruce Wayne, who is more concerned with his personal status and family name than the company’s happenings. Along with Wayne, she meets a jaded design team—Teddy (Danny Pudi), Ron (Ron Funches) and Wendy (Jennie Pierson)—that don’t seem to care about their jobs.
Emily attempts to pique their interest, and get them to actually do work, by encouraging creativity and being a stern yet fair boss. They reject her attempts at regulation and instead mostly just do whatever they want. This dynamic leads to the fun and hilarious hijinks that’s expected in most sitcoms.
The show is only five episodes in but already promises to include interesting story lines about the trials of being a mortal in a world full of beings with extraordinary abilities. It’s unique premise opens a door to a fascinating world previously unseen by fans of the superhero genre.
The fact that it’s a comedy rather than a drama makes it all the more entertaining. It allows the series to focus on the more lighthearted side of the often overly dramatic DC universe and, coupled with its focus on the unremarkable, give it a freshness that viewers who are tired of the same superhero stories retold with new characters will appreciate.
However, “Powerless” is not immune to the downsides of situational comedies. For one thing, the characters can come off as one dimensional. Often times one part of their personality may be over exaggerated, causing them to appear superficial. And the show occasionally relies on the cheesy jokes or flimsy plot that stigmatizes sitcoms. So far the series has not veer too far into this territory, but it’s not hard for this type of show to go there.
“Powerless’” focus on the day-to-day of living in a superhero’s world is a welcomingly different take on a popular genre. Occasional superhero references and cameos keep the show interesting without overshadowing it’s main purpose. While, like many sitcoms, it has its lapses, it’s zany antics will appeal not just to DC fans, but to all.