Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Vanessa Hudgens is Super in Powerless

Review of the TV show, "Powerless."
Jennie Pierson as Wendy, Ron Funches as Ron, Vanessa Hudgens as Emily, 
Danny Pudi as Teddy  (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Warner Bros/NBC)

TV SHOW REVIEW

DC Comics has been taking a beating lately. While the company has been making money with it movies by Warner Bros., one of the biggest complaints is that the films are overly serious and squeeze all the fun out of them. That’s not a problem with NBC’s Powerless which doesn’t take itself seriously at all.

Powerless is the “lighter side of DC” that actually works within the comic book universe and yet be its own thing. The worst thing about the show is its title which doesn’t really mean much. You see, Powerless is a workplace comedy centered at Wayne Security located in Charm City. As a division of Batman’s…er…Wayne Enterprises, the company strives on creating new products to help the local citizens survive the various attacks on their city from super villains and give help to superheroes as well. Unfortunately, the company is either too slow to the party or another company comes up with a copycat product making Wayne Security virtually “powerless” to compete with them. Get it?

What the show lacks in a name, it shines with Vanessa Hudgens. Hudgens, best known for her roles in the High School Musical movies (and dating Zac Efron) proves that she just might have a future in comedy. She plays figuratively rose-colored glasses-wearing Emily who has just taken on a new job in leadership at the failing company without knowing that it is actually failing. She is absolutely sure that she will be able to make a difference there and that everyone will love her. She is in for a rude surprise.


Her boss is Van Wanye (Alan Tudyk), the jealous cousin to Bruce, whose office is located in Gotham City. Van doesn’t do much but takes credit for it anyway. Emily’s new employees are Wendy (Jennie Pierson) who clearly hates her, Teddy (Danny Pudi) and Ron (Ron Funches) who have a wait-and-see attitude toward their new leader. Emily tries to lean on Van’s assistant, Jackie (Christina Kirk) who used to be as idealistic as Emily once was, but she is no longer in the mood.

As you would expect, the show has lots of references to superheroes and villains. The “big” DC characters like Batman, Superman and the like do not appear on screen, but they apparently make phone calls. Instead, we are left with either made up or obscure characters like the superhero, The Crimson Fox who saves Emily (and her train full of people) while on her way to her day at work. “You don’t see that every day!” Emily says with glee. “Actually, you do,” states a fellow commuter.

Like its lead in show (Superstore) and The Good Place, Powerless is a sort of throwback to the silly sitcoms of the 60s and 70s like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie and The Munsters. Not every line is knee-slapping funny, but a good portion of the show is and it is Hudgen’s charm that makes the show.
Of course, this isn’t DC’s first foray into TV territory. Gotham appears to be performing well on FOX. Arrow, The Flash and the like have all performed well on CBS’s second tier network, The CW, but they haven’t done as well on the bigger networks. Supergirl appeared to have done well on CBS, but it either did not do as well as it should have or it was thought that the show would do better on the CW and along with the change came a much smaller budget and the loss of a TV star or two.

Judging from the premiere episode, Powerless is pretty family-friendly except for a few lines here and there that will probably go over the younger set’s head.

Will Powerless survive on NBC? If The Good Place and Superstore are any indication, then, yeah, I think the show has some real promise and if not, maybe it will end up on the CW too. Powerless debuts on Thursday, February 2nd at 8:30 p.m. on NBC.