Sunday, February 5, 2017

Pilot Review: Powerless

Powerless (NBC)
Premiered February 2 at 8:30pm

It’s difficult to keep track of the number of superhero series and film franchises in production today. We’ve come to a point of such saturation that over a dozen sequels and reboots seem to come out each year, and Netflix has been launching four separate series over the past couple years that will all then converge in an epic team-up show. None of those efforts show any signs of stopping in the near future, so it’s nice to see something that, even more than the likes of “Deadpool,” represents a departure from the typical superhero story. Creating a universe in which train derailments and near-death experiences due to collateral damage from supervillain activities is a clever concept, and the focus on a security firm whose express purposes is to help lessen the severity of that collateral damage is cool. At this point, it seems more than a bit silly, and the show is far from what we might call mature. I like Vanessa Hudgens in the lead role as bright-eyed Emily Locke, who wants to accomplish something good and great despite Gotham-centric negativity emanating from a funny Alan Tudyk as Bruce’s cousin Van Wayne. The casting of Danny Pudi is a no-brainer, and I think he has the right energy for this role and for this show. I couldn’t figure out where I recognized Christina Kirk from, and upon discovering that it was as Big Bird in “A to Z,” I think that Jackie is a better part for her. I’m not sure how this series will function on a week-to-week basis, but this was an entertaining enough start to make me want to at least invest in a second visit to this half-hour series.

How will it work as a series? That’s the operative question – can this concept actually work when done again and again, or is there a certain point at which their inventions no longer have value or when they themselves might become the targets of the supervillains’ wrath. It could work before it gets old, I suppose.
How long will it last? I’ve read many puns about how this show’s start was “not so super” and similar things. While the ratings weren’t spectacular and the reviews haven’t been all that great, I think NBC would like to have their own superhot show in the mix and they’ll give it a shot to get going.

Pilot grade: B

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