Powerless (NBC) pilot preview: Is DC comics’ first comedy any good?

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Created & executive produced by Ben Queen (A to Z, Cars 2). Directed by Michael Patrick Jann (A to Z, Little Britain USA, Reno 911!). For NBC, Warner Bros. Television, DC Comics & BQ Productions. 35 pages.

Description: Emily Locke works at the worst insurance companies in America, in the universe of DC Comics where superheroes do exist and cause a lot of collateral damages. How is it like working for a normal, powerless person in a world of superheroes and villains? It’s hard, really hard. You have to be strong, really strong. And that’s the beauty of it. Isn’t it?

With Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical, Spring Breakers, Sucker Punch), Danny Pudi (Community), Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Suburgatory, Dollhouse), Christina Kirk (Manhattan A to Z)…

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I really didn’t expect it before reading, but I enjoyed way too much Powerless script. And I’m not a DC Comics universe nerd. In fact, I don’t watch any of their shows on a regular basis (but I tried them all). That means this comedy is not specifically made for DC Comics die-hard fans. It’s for everyone. And by everyone, I mean everybody who enjoy upbeat workplace comedies NBC is famous for, from The Office to Parks And Recreation and recently added newbie Superstore. In fact, Powerless shares a lot with Superstore and it would totally make sense to pair them next season. Both have cute latinas for leads (America Ferrera & Vanessa Hudgens) and an interesting social subtext about work nowadays with a hint of feminism. And both are very funny, but Powerless may have the upper-hand on this. At least pilot vs. pilot. So, fear not: NBC is the right place for this show and the series order looks like a formality to me, even though it will be expensive, a lot of special effects are required.

Of course, we get the inevitable and necessary implied references to DC comics’ characters but nothing a novice wouldn’t understand and they are never too many. Just the right amount. By the way, there’s a description of the main titles (that could change) where we see classic panels from DC including Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman… all of them saving the day, but we quickly pop zoom past them, focusing on the civilians in the background while introducing the show’s cast. Smart idea. Efficient. The first sequence starts with Crimson Fox (I googled her, that super-woman is something!) battling a super-villain, Jack O’Lantern ( I googled him too, less impressive if you ask me). And they’re using a train full of civilians to make their point. Inside of it, there’s our heroin, Emily Locke, who has had enough of superheroes (she tells us about it with a voiceover, sorry voiceover haters) and that’s when SHE saves the day for everyone in the train with a brilliant speech and becomes a hero herself, at least for one day. It’s a wake-up call for Emily, who’s now determined to show to her whole office and especially her new crazy boss she’s not the nice little girl they all think she is. She’s on a journey, she won’t shut up and she won’t back down. Take that, Supergirl!

The story doesn’t take place in Metropolis or Gotham or National City but in the little town of Charm City and most of the action happens at the office building and Big Belly Burger, the McDonalds of the DC Universe, right at the corner. We meet Emily’s colleagues and they all make a pretty good impression, especially Teddy (Danny Pudi), Emily’s best friend, and Jackie (Christina Kirk), 45, a woman who really needs to get laid but she’s only interested in super-heroes. She even fantasizes about Aquaman. She’s all wet when she thinks about him (see what I did there?). Anyway. There are also Marvin & Wendy, twins who finish each other’s sentences but they always do it wrong. And there’s Dell Heller (Alan Tudyk), the new boss, who is some sort of human super villain. Except he’s worse. Everything that comes out of his mouth is offensive and that makes him super funny. He’s a caricature of a boss and make totally outrageous decisions, like buying standing desks for the employees and take away their chairs, so they have to stand up all day long. Told you there was a social subtext. Here it is. And it works. You can only relate to it. Oh and there’s Marco, Del’s assistant. Let’s just say he is a potential love interest for Emily. And it’s not a good news for Teddy, who’s probably in love with her in secret. Office love stories, people. Powerless is the whole package.

Powerless is a very promising workplace comedy that happens to take place in the DC Comics universe and that’s what makes it different and special, but most of all it’s a really funny half-hour piece of television that everybody can enjoy. And for NBC, being just that is already a powerful force. 

14 comments

  1. Bianca says:

    Lulla, so you think this show will be peared up with superstore next season? I mean i think nbc wants to have an hour of good fun every week like they had with the office and parks and rec. And this two show could be it! The return of nbc comedy!

  2. Gerald says:

    Any chance you might review Cruel Intentions and Time next? Those two are the only pilots I’m looking forward so far…
    Thanks!

    • Lulla says:

      Except, she is! Her mother is from Manilla. She has spanish ancestors… She played “Gabriella Montez” in High School Musical, “Cereza” in Machete Kills… Do I need to say more?

  3. Bianca says:

    Daamn! I’m so happy! I had my doubts, a lot of doubts. I didn’t like cars 2, and so I thought that the people involved (except for the actors) where kinda mediocre. But now you got my hopes up! (:

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