NBC’s Powerless Is Super Refreshing

It’s a question we all debate: which superhero is the best? Superman, for his powers? Batman, for his gadgets? In the end, they all save the day…and  cost the city a small fortune in damages. So how do ordinary citizens cope? To answer that, NBC has created their newest comedy “Powerless.”

With an opening sequence depicted in the style of original, hand-drawn comic frames, including appearances by Wonder Woman, The Flash, and more classic super heroes, the show instantly welcomes newcomers as though they’ve just bought their first comic book. It’s easy to imagine – and hope for – future crossovers.

Enter Emily Locke, the wide-eyed optimist, who’s thrilled and a bit starstruck when her train is derailed on her way into her new job at Wayne Security. A newcomer to Charm City, she’s as green as the sweater she wears (a clever parallel from the writers) when it comes to dealing with superheroes.

Photo Credit: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC

Her inexperience of course comes from her upbringing. She grew up in a “flyover” state – a place where she only ever saw superheroes literally flying by – so inconveniences like stray debris crushing her car, or having to push back a meeting when the train is derailed, never really came up.

As the show’s do-gooder protagonist, Vanessa Hudgens can take credit for most of the charm in Charm City. The role is admittedly reminiscent of her early work in High School Musical, but has a witty maturity to it that makes Emily instantly likable…except maybe to her new co-workers.

Ron (Ron Funches), Teddy (Danny Pudi), and Jackie (Christina Kirk) make up Emily’s core team, all working for Van Wayne (Alan Tudyk) – yes, THAT Wayne family; Bruce is his cousin. Each with their own wonderfully sarcastic personality, the team clearly personifies the jaded weariness that Charm City residents, and likely real-world TV audiences, are feeling in a world of supers.

The crew brings Emily, and the show, back down to Earth a bit. It has a vague “Parks and Rec” feel, if Leslie Knope and her team were guardians of supervillain-rampaged cities instead of parks. Billed as “the first comedy from DC,” the show is true to form. The jokes are quick and biting, and each cast member can hold their own.

The daily task at hand? Creating game-changing products to help protect ordinary citizens from super villains, or superheroes fighting each other for “vaguely laid out reasons.” As is bound to happen in a city of superheroes, things go south often, forcing Emily and Co. to work together and prove she does (thankfully) have some sharpness in her teeth.

In terms of comedy, NBC’s Powerless could be a power player. The story and characters have all the makings of a classic show, but the show itself is very individual in its genre. NBC has successfully explored brand new concepts before – its breakout comedy “The Good Place” snagged rave reviews and a second season.

Following last year’s sudden saturation of superhero shows and movies, NBC’s foray into the DC universe is a refreshing angle, that welcomes the newbies, the jaded, and everything in between. Viewers won’t find the typical capes and tropes here. With Emily Locke and her new crew, Charm City –and NBC –might have the everyday heroes it needs.

“Powerless” premieres on NBC on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017 at 8:30 p.m EST.

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