Powerless S01E01: Wayne or Lose
Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Danny Pudi, Alan Tudyk, Ron Fuches, Christina Kirk, Jennie Pierson
Director: Mark Buckland
Writers: Ben Queen, Neel Shah, Sabrina Jalees, Patrick Schumacker, Justin Halpern
A review by Gregory Brothers
In a world filled with countless superhero and comic book based television shows, Powerless is the newest DC entry. The show was first mentioned back in the spring of 2016 and then almost immediately pushed back and sent for various retooling as screening audiences gave opinions of the initial pilot. The final version of the show takes place within a company that creates products to help everyday citizens live in a world where superheroes and supervillain battles are as common as superhero’s with moms named Martha.
Episode one, titled Wayne or Lose, first introduces us to Emily Locke (Vanessa Hudgens), as she makes her way to her first day of work at Wayne Security. On the way there Emily is amazed and in awe to seee her first superhero battle, while the other citizens of Charm City continue with their day more annoyed by the inconvenience then in awe or fear of what this battle means for them. This theme continues as Emily arrives at work explaining her tardiness and is met with the same nonchalant attitude when her new co-workers see that she survived the encounter.
While Emily’s wonderment of her new city and being around superheroes means, we are introduced to her co-workers who are a little more jaded by the current state of superheroes, including their recent trend of fighting each other. The smart, yet cynical, team consists of Teddy (Danny Pudi), Ron (Ron Funches), and Wendy (Jennie Pierson). The team became well known for the invention of their Anti-Joker Serum which reversed the effects of Joker Gas. However, in recent years they have only been able to manage to invent new colors of their signature product. Part of the reason for the state of the team falls directly on the management of Wayne Security. Van Wayne (Alan Tudyk) has one goal for his division of the company and that is to invent something that gets the attention of his richer, more well-known cousin Bruce, so that he will be promoted and can move to Gotham City.
When dealing with a show set in a world filled with superheroes there must be some suspension of disbelief. Add in the fact that Powerless is a comedy and it makes it very easy to up the over-the-top scenarios to a level that would make it unwatchable. Thankfully the writers are able to find a nice balance where the comedic element blends nicely with the superhero world.
Whether it will continue beyond the pilot is still to be seen, but for at least the pilot, Powerless is focused on the view and feelings of Emily as she adjusts to her new job and town. Her wonder and amazement of Charm City and all its super powered inhabitants provides a very different view than that of the jaded citizens and co-workers around her. Those differences allow for the writers to strike a nice balance to where we are not overwhelmed with either dialogue that comes off as to fanboyish or that comes of too cynical.
One of my main concerns is how to keep the show from getting stale. You can only have so many episodes where the main idea is coming up with new inventions to keep the company making money before the viewers are going to move on. Finding ways to expand the personalities and the scope of the show are going to be important for the show’s success. If you worry about the morals of would be heroes, then you might question the fact that Bruce Wayne owns a company that is making money from protecting citizens from the results of vigilante crime fighting.
Watch It! The Powerless pilot does what pilots are supposed to do. It introduces us to the main characters and gives enough of their personality that you know what to expect from them in the future. I found myself laughing at several of the one liners in the pilot while also cringing at some of the more painful scenes. While we will not be seeing any of the big-name DC characters anytime soon in the series, the use of D list characters provided some nice Easter eggs that hopefully will continue in the future. A good base has been built here for what could be a funny and fresh approach to what life living with super powered people is like. Hopefully future episode will build upon those positives while tweaking parts that were awkward. For now, check Powerless out and enjoy a more comedic take on the superhero world.