With so many new shows premiering this upcoming season, it can be a daunting task to pick and choose what is worth watching … and more importantly, what won’t be canceled after only a few weeks of airing. That’s why I’m here to help you wade through what seems like an endless list of new series. I’m on the ground at San Diego Comic-Con for the Preview Night screenings of Riverdale, Powerless, People of Earth, Frequency and Time After Time to give you my snap judgements of these five new Warner Bros. TV shows. I’m watching them all so you don’t have to! Let’s take a look at NBC’s attempt to break into the comic book world: Powerless.
I love superheroes. Anyone who knows even the smallest detail about me knows that I love superheroes. Marvel, DC Comics, TV shows, movies … I don’t discriminate. I watch (and love) it all.
But I’ll be honest: I was a little wary of Powerless, NBC’s first foray into the superhero action. The premise sounded fine, great even: Vanessa Hudgens stars as a young insurance adjuster specializing in regular-people coverage against damage caused when superheroes and supervillains treat the city like their own personal battleground. Powerless tells the story of regular people living in a superpowered world, and how you don’t have to have special abilities to be a real hero. It’s a story we definitely don’t get to see in all the big Marvel and DC movies and TV shows. And the cast is stacked: Hudgens, Alan Tudyk (who got applause from the entire ballroom when he first appeared onscreen), Danny Pudi—so many comedic powerhouses under one roof.
But it wasn’t the premise or cast that was giving me pause, it was the fact that Powerless was a half hour comedy on NBC. We’ve all been burned by NBC before when it comes to comedies. Either the shows are terrible and get renewed for no explicable reason, or they’re incredible and smart and hilarious … and those are the ones that get canceled. But much to my surprise, Powerless is a bright spot in a sea of darkness.
From the hilarious one-liners (and some pretty inappropriate jokes by NBC’s standards), to the DC Comics easter eggs and name drops (I noted Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Brainiac, Lex Luthor, Justice League, and Big Belly Burger just in the pilot alone), to the sheer delightfulness of the heart in all the characters, there’s nothing to condemn here. Even when the special effects can look a little, well, lacking (to put it nicely), it doesn’t take away from the joy that the rest of the show gives you.
And surprisingly, some of the biggest laughs come not from the superhero humor, but from the regular old office humor. If you’ve ever worked in a cubicle, had a tense relationship with a boss who just doesn’t understand life in the bullpen, have ever looked forward to Bagel Day in the office, then you’ll appreciate so many of the jokes sprinkled throughout the pilot (and hopefully for the rest of the season). And as for Hudgens’ love interest on the show? Let’s just say that was the biggest shock of them all … in the most positive way.
The last note I took during this screening, in all caps: I LOVE THIS. Fans of comic books, office comedy, rom-coms or just having a good laugh, Powerless is for you.
Image: Warner Bros. TV