Tag Archives: NBC

Powerless: NBC’s new un-super-powered comedy is clever, fun, and a nice surprise in general

I didn’t have high hopes for Powerless, to be honest. I don’t watch many half-hour sitcoms anymore at all, and this one had a couple of big changes in development that made the finished product something other than what I initially got moderately excited about when I first heard about it. Predictably, much of the pilot episode–bad-puntastically titled “Wayne or Lose”–was already spoiled by the trailers leading up to it, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the show overall well-constructed, slickly produced and consistently funny, with a well-chosen cast that has good chemistry right out of the gate. It’s what I imagine might happen if circa 2008 Zooey Deschanel had a baby with an obscure DC comics title, but in a good way.

Spoilers ahoy!

Vanessa Hudgens plays likable ingenue Emily Locke, who arrives in Charm City bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready for her first day as the head of R&D at Wayne Security. Hudgens does a great job of selling Emily’s wide-eyed excitement about the city and her new position, but her sunny optimism is tempered by real ambition and a deep-down belief in herself and her ability to make a positive impact on the world. Emily’s determination to be better (a motto she writes in permanent marker on a whiteboard) is something I genuinely appreciate as a personal and professional goal in my own life, and the show it’s a motto that feels real and achievable. Sure, Emily may have gotten it from the enormous Bruce Wayne-authored business bible she carries around with her for half the episode, but I rather think it’s one of the few motivational tools she has that really is all hers. I certainly hope so, since it’s written in permanent marker.

Emily’s sunny disposition is obviously not shared by the rest of the Wayne Security team. Boss Van Wayne (Alan Tudyk in excellent form) just wants to be transferred to the Gotham City offices and jumps at the opportunity to “fail up.” We learn that Van’s assistant, Jackie (Christina Kirk), started off very like Emily but has been worn down by the work environment. Danny Pudi, Ron Funches, and Atlin Mitchell round out the R&D department as Teddy, Ron and Wendy, respectively, and they too have spent enough time having their ideas dismissed and dreams crushed that they aren’t exactly welcoming to Emily, who (it turns out) is their fifth new boss in the last year. This obviously isn’t an altogether original setup for a workplace/fish-out-of-water comedy, but it’s a formula that works and the DC universe setting is enough of a twist to keep me interested.

Speaking of the setting, it’s really smartly done, and there are a ton of great comic book and genre references for longtime comics fans to catch and for less fannish folks to google after the episode. The use of obscure-ish heroes and villains like Starro, Jack O’Lantern, and Crimson Fox works well to firmly place Charm City (invented for the show) in the DC universe of the comics, but also firmly separate from everything else currently in production for film or television in the DC universe. Other details–like Adam West’s voiceover in a Wayne Security commercial for Joker anti-venom or Emily’s father being played by the 1978 Superman‘s Jimmy Olsen, Marc McClure–will be even less obvious for casual viewers but more delightful for serious fans of the genre and obsessive googlers like myself.

In the, end, though, there’s not much (yet, at least) about Powerless that is particularly unique or groundbreaking. It’s got a diverse cast, but that’s pretty bare minimum these days. It’s got a quietly progressive message, but it remains to be seen if that is nurtured into something more than a milquetoast slogan on a whiteboard. There’s a good deal of feminist potential here, but female friendships and mentoring relationships must also be nurtured and grown to really count for much.

Still, this is a promising first episode, smart and funny without being cynical, sunny and sweet without being cloying. Two weeks into what might be the apocalypse (and is a depressing time to live through regardless), Powerless has turned out to be exactly the sort of lighthearted thing I want to watch, especially now that the first season of The Good Place is over.

And speaking of The Good Place, do yourself a favor and go watch it immediately if you haven’t already.

 

I’m so embarrassed for everyone involved in Heroes Reborn

Oh, man. So that happened.

Wow.

I know we all loved the first season of Heroes back in 2006, but we also all remember that seasons two through four were pretty terrible. And I know, I know, writer’s strike or whatever, but you can’t reasonably attribute all of the show’s problems to that. Mostly, it was just three-quarters badly written.

But regardless of the reasons for the original show’s issues, Heroes Reborn is a reboot/sequel that literally no one was asking for. It’s pretty obviously a cynical attempt on the part of NBC to capitalize on what little goodwill people had retained for the original show. But I watched it anyway, because I’m a sucker.

Heroes Reborn is bad.

It’s an ill-conceived idea in the first place, burdened as it is with the history of the original show, but Heroes Reborn takes its badness to the next level in several ways.

  1. Noah Bennet (Jack Coleman) is the only main character from the original show, and his story line in Reborn is boring. After some kind of obviously staged terrorist attack in Odessa, Texas, Noah has some of his own memories erased, and so far all he’s done is find this out. Neither he nor we, the audience, have any idea what is going on, but we also don’t have much reason to care, either. He’s kind of trying to find out what happened to his daughter or something, but even he doesn’t seem to care that much.
  2. New teenaged hero Tommy (Robbie Kay) has a kind of cool power, but his story is weighed down with a bunch of mind-numbingly dull teen angst bullshit. We spend most of the first two episodes learning about Tommy’s high school bully and Tommy’s crush on the bully’s girlfriend.
  3. Married couple Luke (Zachary Levi) and Joanne (Judith Shekoni) are on a revenge quest that is both evil and stupid. This is complicated by the increasingly obvious fact that these two characters absolutely loathe each other. I don’t understand how this couple ever made a child together, and I don’t know what they think they are going to accomplish by murdering every mutant they can find. I suppose it makes sense that Joanne might just be completely unhinged after her son’s death, but I don’t know why Levi sticks around since he isn’t totally on board with all the murder they’ve been doing. Which brings me to…
  4. It’s hard to buy the idea that people with super powers are an oppressed minority being hunted and killed/imprisoned with impunity. I mean, sure most of the super powers are probably not world-changing, but enough are that you’d think it would be pretty easy for these folks to take care of themselves. Even if I accept the idea that the government or some kind of shadow organization might be able to mess with mutants, I think a couple of middle class suburbanites with some small arms would have a tough time against a room full of super heroes.
  5. Everything in Japan is the worst. Both Miko (Kiki Sukezane) 0and Ren (Toru Uchikado) look like anime characters, which is just plain silly, but the major sin here is the whole thing with Miko’s father’s video game. This doesn’t even remotely make any kind of sense, even in a world with super heroes. It’s totally cut off from all the rest of the story so far, and after two episodes there’s still no hint as to how this part ties in to everything else we’re seeing. The very worst part, though? The piss poor computer graphics for the game world. It’s just sad.

There’s some other stuff going on with some people at a casino or something and a guy with a luchador mask, but these story lines are actually so boring that I don’t have anything to say about them. Also, there’s some girl being mysterious and ominous with the Northern Lights and a hole in the sky. That can’t be good.

I just can’t bring myself to care.

Heroes Reborn promises a “new phenomenon” but with terrible music?

First, we got this “Where are the heroes?” teaser, in which apparently the whole world wants to know:

It manages to be both boring and confusing, for a couple of reasons. First, if you haven’t already watched Heroes (and stopped watching after the first season) you probably won’t really be on board with the whole “Where are the heroes?” thing. Second, they’ve got what sounds like a children’s choir covering Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” in the background, and I don’t think anyone has unironically liked Metallica since the mid-90s. Is NBC really serious with this?

It appears so, because just a couple days later we got a proper trailer, sort of:

Still with the Metallica (I mean, really? REALLY?), but this time with a bunch of quick shots of people doing stuff, a teenage boy saying something extremely cliché, and a look at Hiro Nakamura’s face that is just long and lingering enough that it makes me think that they’re using Masi Oka’s involvement to sell the show but that we might not actually see much of him when it airs.

Honestly, I’m just not sure exactly who they’re trying to sell this show to. I know the first season of Heroes was excellent, but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that it needed a reboot. Or a sequel. Or whatever this is, since the trailers are pretty light on story details. I suppose it feels like they’re trying really hard to bring in older fans of the original show, but a long look at Hiro’s face and a cover of a twenty-five-year-old Metallica song just aren’t working for me.

Probably, I’ll watch this regardless, but so far I’m unimpressed.

Premiere date is September 24.