Vanessa Hudgens is quite a refreshing face especially when she’s not trying to be sexy. She’s sexier now with more clothes on in NBC’s new superhero series Powerless. Yes, the name of the series is Powerless because the show isn’t really about superheroes but a bunch of ordinary guys in the office living in the midst of superheroes. From the get-go, the show is off to a good start, and if it improves after its current performance, there’s a chance it will go forward. It’s actually a 20-minute sitcom but without laugh-tracks.
Vanessa Hudgens is Emily Locke, a newly-hired R&D director for Wayne Security, a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises. The series is set in the DC Universe, and since it’s a separate TV network, the show may not be in the same universe as Arrow or Supergirl. They casually mention Superman and Batman as well as Lexcorp (their competitor), so basically, it might just be a separate universe. The show is set in a place called Charm City. (What is it with DC and fictional cities?) Basically, it’s a sitcom with superheroes and villains running around. It’s a new concept, and DC managed to beat Marvel to it. Marvel’s Damage Control is the same thing, a comedy series about the people that fix damages of superhero-supervillain encounters. In Marvel Comics, Tony Stark’s companies pay for the repair of damage resulting from these encounters, full or partial. Anyway, when Marvel’s own show will materialize is unknown or maybe it won’t.
Back to Emily, she meets her boss, Van Wayne (played by Alan Tudyk who played K2SO in Rogue One), cousin to Bruce Wayne and perhaps his complete opposite. Van Wayne is a real comic character who first made his appearance way back in 1962. Emily is tasked to motivate the R&D team to create new products for the company. The staff, however, is so jaded that they don’t want her around going so far as to invent a gadget to detect her approach. Emily finds out that she’s already the fifth person to take on the job and must deliver or make way for the 6th. She confronted Van who tells her his true goal which is to settle in a position in Wayne Enterprises in Gotham, feeling entitled as a cousin to Bruce. Then came the time when Van announced that Wayne Security will be dissolved and that he will be absorbed into the Gotham office. This forces Emily to try working with the team before the company is fully dissolved.
Emily tries and fails with the team who came up with mediocre or infeasible inventions. She seeks comfort in a similarly jaded Jackie who used to be as optimistic has her. Their talk is disturbed when the villain Jack-o-Lantern arrives to terrorize the city again. Emily got the idea to create an invention to track supervillains from their scent signatures by modifying the team’s Emily Tracker.
The team succeeds in remodeling the Emily tracker to track Jack-o-Lantern’s impending approach. Van doesn’t want to jeopardize his future at Wayne Enterprises and refuses to submit the product to Bruce but is forced by Emily by threatening to take his place if Bruce likes the device. Bruce liked the device and kept the company going but crushes Van’s dream of making it to Gotham. Later, the Joker being captured by Batman makes the news. Batman apparently used a similar device to track down the criminal unbeknownst to Emily and the team.
The show is quite funny even with the absence of laugh tracks. A sitcom in the midst of serious superhero action is quite cool adding comedy within the superhero genre. There are a lot of comedic one-liners from superhero films and series, but Powerless makes it official. This series pokes fun at the superhero genre and is quite aware of it. Alan Tudyk and Vanessa Hudgens were quite serious with their roles. Serious, as in they fit well with their roles and dialogue while the others are to be observed in the future.
“Powerless has a strong premise leaving room for improvement — and strong performances from a talented cast — but the show’s initial spark is dimmed by uneven execution and a lack of laughs.”
Apparently, what everyone saw on TV was a different thing from the pilot shown at Comic-Con 2016. Like Marvel’s Damage Control concept, everyone was supposed to work in an insurance company that’s supposed to hold heroes and villains accountable for damages but instead became a product R&D team in a tech company. The original pilot they say was better.
The show was funny on its first try. Gave this viewer a few chuckles and hopefully, a few laughs like The Big Bang Theory does. The next episode will probably tell us if it will stick.