This week saw the release of the latest live action television show to be set in the DC universe and inevitably some man-child with an unhealthy attachment to the men in tights and the fictional world they safe guard was going to pick apart every aspect of it.
So here I go.
Powerless is an action comedy staring Vanessa Hudgens as Emily Locke, a small town girl who gets a job as Director of Research and Development at Wayne Security (yes that Wayne) in Charm City. A city that co-showrunner Patrick Schumacker says they “totally made-up” which, given that they are already dealing with a world with multiple incredible fictional metropolises not to mention the actual real world cities also encumbered into the DC United States, seems needlessly ambitious.
A pilot episode of show made by Ben Queen was aired at Comic-Con 2016 and was met with mostly positive reviews, after that however Queen left the project triggering a rework of the premise and a total reshoot of said pilot and what we are left with I imagine will not be receiving the same high praise.
Given that this is the first episode I’m going to be working with what we were given in these first 22 minutes (spoiler alert, their not good) but there are plenty of shows who turned themselves around after a less than stellar pilot episode or even first season so don’t worry NBC, I’m going to go easy on it.
Staring alongside Hudgens we get a smorgasbord of comedic talent, none of whom get to particularly shine with the bland script they’ve been given that not only lacks lustre, but also jokes. Community’s Danny Pudi plays the chief design officer Teddy in what is almost a carbon copy of his character Abed from the aforementioned community college sitcom, expect without the charm and Alan Tudyk fresh off from stretching his comedy chops in Rouge One as K-2SO (a droid with no filter) plays their boss Van Wayne. Whinny cousin to the caped crusader’s billionaire alter-ego. And boy do they mention it. A lot.
Okay so for an action comedy series it’s not very funny, but what about the action I hear you ask. Well, there isn’t any. Or at least, not a lot. Now it would be totally unfair to compare the fight scenes to that of the well choreographed bouts in Arrow or the CGI to shows like The Flash and Supergirl who some how have managed to make super speed and flight look almost acceptable on a TV budget, but I do want to give a special mention to some of the worst green screening I’ve ever seen.
During the opening sequence we see our main character (Hudgens) on a train that is nearly derailed when the battle between two super powered individuals spills over onto the tracks, the fight itself actually doesn’t look that bad with some fairly believable CGI fire but what’s happening in the train carriage and whats happening outside are two separate layers so distinct it takes the viewer completely out of the action. And if your going to pitch yourself as an ‘action comedy’ simply having the action isn’t enough, it has to feel believable.
I do want to compliment them however on their world building. Although they seem a little hesitant to start putting faces to any big players in the DCU they certainly went in strong with the references, having the company talk about a ‘Joker Toxin’ antidote they manufacture and how they are trying to copy ideas from Lex Corp I for one am very pleased that we’re starting off in an already established universe. You either already know peoples backstories or you pick them up along the way, no origins. Something I think the major studios should take note of. And I don’t fault them for not wanting to go in hard and cast the big 3 right off the bat. If I were them I’d be hoping to be absorbed into the Flarrow-verse too. But if you listen closely you may hear a voice that true DC fans cannot miss.
Overall I will continue to watch this series for the time being, I think there’s a lot they could do with it and it’s interesting to see a new side to familiar stories. That being said I think this pilot is a swing and a miss sorry guys, 2 Batarangs out of 5. Please try harder.