One part Batman and one part Mary Tyler Moore. That’s how NBC’s Powerless is being described, and this pilot episode gave us just that.
The start of Powerless 1×01 dives right into explaining the world of the show, Charm City. It’s a made up city; it doesn’t exist within the comic book or cinematic world, though it is very much like any other superhero/villain-inhabited municipality.
We meet Emily Locke (Vanessa Hudgens) on her way to her first day at Wayne Security, and learn her desire to help people and move to the big and exciting city (cue in The Mary Tyler Moore theme song).
And right away any superhero fan, such as Emily, has something to cross off their bucket list. While riding the train to her first day of work, a nearby superhero and villain fight causes the train to fly off the rails only to be saved in the last minute by Crimson Fox!
Emily eventually makes it to the office and meets her boss Van Wayne (Alan Tudyk), the unimportant cousin of Bruce Wayne, along with the employees she’ll be supervising. Although it turns out she is the fifth supervisor to be hired, she tries to make the best of it.
Then everyone is fired.
With a combination of Emily’s upbeat personality, Teddy’s (Danny Pudi) zesty pronunciation of colors’ technical names (sangria!), as well as the supportive, and sometimes reluctantly supportive, characters, the team at Wayne Security put their brains together and are able to invent a Jack-alert in the very last minute which leads them to get to keep their jobs!
Powerless has a unique perspective that no other recent comedy has possessed. It has the traditional workplace comedy setup within the untraditional setting of a comedic comic book world. What comes with this great beginning is the hope of a new version of the beloved Community.
Here are some of what Powerless did in 1×01 that they should continue to do in 1×02 and onward!
Have story lines and characters that wouldn’t work in a movie
We can probably guarantee (showrunner Patrick Schumacker confirms) famous DC characters, such as Batman, Superman, The Flash, or Arrow, will not make a guest star appearance. However, that doesn’t mean there can’t be good cameos of other comic book favorites, smaller perhaps quirkier heroes or villains. That being said…
Don’t name-drop for the sake of name-dropping
Although they work for Bruce Wayne (AKA Batman), the show should not lean on the superheroes. Yes, Powerless takes place in a comic book world, but the title of the show is Powerless! It should always be focused on our Wayne Security employees.
Quirky and/or unique shows tend to have a loyal fan base, but unfortunately do not usually air for long. We saw that with Community, Pushing up Daisies, etc., but what Powerless has that the others didn’t have is branding. Although they seem to be going the route of non-traditional superhero shows, it does not mean it doesn’t have a broader audience of superhero and comic book fans. Hopefully when you factor in the superhero tie-ins, Powerless will have a better chance at being a quirky show with longevity!