Premiering on February 2nd, 2017, Powerless is unlike any other show based on the DC comics Universe. Mostly because it’s a comedy while the vast majority of live-action, Prime Time TV series in the last forty-two years have been dramas. From 1975’s Wonder Woman to 1993’s Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman to 2001’s Smallville and finally all the way to the current lineup of DC Comics based shows, Arrow, The Flash, Gotham, Supergirl, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. All of them have had one thing in common. They were all dramas to varying degrees of light and dark. And they were all an hour in length if you count commercials. Powerless is a thirty minute comedy. Critics weren’t as thrilled with it though. Rotten Tomatoes only gave it a 60% Fresh rating and other critics said the show has potential but the pilot didn’t show that potential and while the premise was great, it’s execution wasn’t.
The reason for that is because the original pilot was scratched in favour of another, once the series’ creator, Ben Queen left the series over creative differences. The original pilot had been shown at San Diego Comic-Con 2016, and it apparently gained better reviews than the broadcast version did.
When I first saw the trailer for the series, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I mean, I’m not really into comedies like Community, Modern Family, and New Girl. So when I heard that DC Entertainment, and Warner Bros. Television was developing a comedy set in the DC Universe, I didn’t think it was going to work. And right up until I watched the pilot I didn’t think it was going to work. Mainly because they were really selling it hard on Vanessa Hudgens and she’s not an actress that I particularly like. Mostly because of the whole teen idol thing that she had going on in the mid-2000’s because of High School Musical and her relationship with Zac Efron. The much publicized relationship between her and Zac Efron. Anyways, I didn’t have confidence in a series not developed by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg, starring Vanessa Hudgens, and it being a stupid comedy like Community and Modern Family. I say stupid because I don’t generally find that kind of humour to be funny. I’m not saying that Modern Family isn’t a good show. Because it can be a very good show when it wants to be. I’m just saying that generally, it’s not my kind of humour.
However, when the pilot episode of Powerless was over, I discovered that I’d enjoyed it while I was watching it, and when it was over, I’d still enjoyed it. For four reasons. The first is Alan Tudyk as Bruce Wayne’s cousin, Van Wayne. The second is how they actually talk about the DC characters by name, without the vague remarks and references that fill the Berlanti shows. They only mentioned Batman once, near the very end, but, no fewer than six times did they mention other superheroes. Superman was mentioned, Batman was mentioned, as were The Joker, Lexcorp, Wonder Woman, and I think Green Lantern was mentioned as well. We also saw an extremely obscure DC character, Crimson Fox, a member of the Justice League Europe team from the 1989 comic book series of the same name. The third is that this show, unlike the majority of TV shows these days, actually has an opening credits sequence, using old comic book covers including Action Comics #1, and Batman #455. They also used covers from Green Lantern, The Flash, and Wonder Woman though I don’t know which issues they used as I’m not as familiar with those books as I am with the Superman and Batman covers they used, and the ones they did use weren’t memorable ones and weren’t used in documentaries and other behind the scenes videos. The final reason is that Adam West appears in the episode’s opening sequence as Bruce Wayne in a voiceover capacity. That was truly amazing.
Honestly, I got more of a ’60s Batman vibe, with a little hint of the Super Friends cartoons, from this series than I did anything else. Visually it’s very different from those series, but tonally it very much feels like it could either be set in modern versions of the Adam West Batman Universe, or the cartoon universe of the Super Friends shows. Regardless, it was refreshing from the dark, gritty Universe of the other DC shows, especially the darkest of them all, Gotham.
Overall I really enjoyed this episode. The series has potential but we’ll see what the ratings look like in the coming weeks. Because if the ratings are low then NBC is going to cancel it. I hope it doesn’t get cancelled though, because this is exactly the type of superhero/comic book TV show that we need in today’s world. And I am pleasantly surprised that DC Entertainment went this route with a live-action TV show, considering how they went with the other live-action TV shows, and movies. I highly recommend that you watch this episode.