NBC’s “Powerless” Flies a Little Low

Now, I’m a self-professed Marvelite, but that being said, I don’t hate the DC stuff.  Despite my preference, at the end of the day, I’m a comic book guy.  If DC tanks, it could eventually lead to fatigue in the genre, which could be bad for Marvel.  Healthy competition breeds a strong marketplace, and DC’s success is success for comic fans everywhere.

NBC’s new show, Powerless, is DC TV’s first foray into comedy, which is quite the stretch when you consider how drab and dark their movies have been recently.

The show takes place in Charm City, which is a newly created location for the show but sounds like every other lame-sounding city in DC (Star, Central, Fawcett, Hub, Coast…you get the idea), at a satellite office of Wayne Enterprises, run by Bruce Wayne’s cousin, and focusing on normal people that are themselves satellites of the superheroes that people really care about.

Basically, it’s a premise designed to use the names of big name heroes and the cameos of heroes nobody’s ever heard of in order to get a few laughs.  The only problem is, most of the jokes fall a little flat.

That isn’t the fault of the cast.  Vanessa Hudgens plays the lead as likable-enough small-town dreamer Emily Locke who moves to Charm City to take a new position with the aforementioned company.  The company’s purpose is to create technology that protects people from and/or limits the amount of collateral damage caused by superhero fights.

Her team of misfits includes Danny Pudi (Community), Ron Funches (Undatable) and Jennie Pierson (Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23), each of which have their own little quirks that makes them almost interesting.  Pierson is mean, Funches has his innocence and Pudi, in a surprise twist, is the straight man.  It’s odd to say that being the straight-man is a quirk, but if you’ve ever seen Community, you understand.  Sadly, I’m not sure Pudi works as the straight man, either.

Overall, it reminded me of the short-lived show Better Off Ted but with Superheroes…and not nearly as funny.

Don’t get me wrong, the show isn’t terrible.  It was entertaining…it just wasn’t all that humorous.  Now, this was the pilot episode, which has a specific job of setting up the premise and introducing the main characters.  Pilots aren’t always great.  They don’t have to be.  They just have to hint toward potential.  After all, Community, my favorite comedy series of all time, didn’t have the funniest pilot.  It did, however, have a certain endearing quality to it that Powerless didn’t seem to possess.  Here’s hoping the next few episodes will be enough to redeem the series and give it some longevity.

I want this show to succeed because, last I heard, ABC is developing a similar premise in Marvel’s Damage Control, though it’s been over a year since we’ve heard anything about it.  If Powerless doesn’t prove at least a modest success, we may never get Marvel’s take on a sitcom, which is certain to be better.  Say what you will about the MCU, Marvel can bring the laughs.  If you want superhero comedy, look no further than Guardians of the Galaxy.

Powerless airs Thursdays at 8:30 (7:30 CST) on NBC.

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