Marketed as “the first comedy from DC Comics,” NBC’s upcoming half-hour series Powerless has finally received a hard release date after being pushed back from this Fall: Thursday, February 2 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. Up, up, and away! Or not.
“It’s a superhero world. We just live in it.” is the perspective of its lead character, Emily Locke (Vanessa Hudgens), who at the show’s outset starts work as the Director of Research & Development for Wayne Security. Yes, that Wayne. It’s a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises that creates products that can help keep innocent people safe in a dangerous world full of supers, both heroic and villainous.
The character is said to be competent and confident with the drive to pursue making her big ideas for the company a reality … except as we know, expectations hardly ever match up with reality, especially in an office bureaucracy. A lot of the buzz has it considered akin to The Office or Parks & Recreation but in a world full of famous superheroes like Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Batman, Supergirl, etc.
Based on that, we can expect it to be something like a comedy of errors, especially with great comedy actors like Christina Kirk, Danny Pudi (Community’s Abed), and Alan Tudyk (who’s done a LOT of great comedic voice work but is easily recognizable as the pilot “Wash” from Firefly and Serenity).
All in all, the concept sounds like a breath of fresh air considering the gritty AF tone of the DC movies and the often self-serious nature of the CW shows.
This is the second attempt at collaboration between DC and NBC after the failed Constantine experiment, but perhaps comedic superhero satire will land better with viewers than a straightforward supernatural procedural struggling to define itself.
This is something of a return to classic NBC, as the network used to put all of its “Must See TV” comedies in their Thursday primetime slots — like the aforementioned Parks & Recreation and The Office — before switching to exclusively dramas in 2015. But these days Fox, ABC, and CBS all outperform NBC on Thursdays.
It’s a curious choice for a network whose most successful programming these days comes from the likes of Blindspot, The Blacklist, and Chicago Fire. It leads one to wonder if over the next few years, Powerless will run a course similar to what happened with Supergirl in its jump from CBS to the CW. As of right now, Powerless is squarely set in a DC Universe where Batman, Superman, and other members of the Justice League (which may or may not be a thing in-show) fight crime and save the day — but this DC Universe is neither the Snyderverse nor the Arrowverse. It’s its own -verse.
In Supergirl’s tenure on CBS, the network’s core viewership was undoubtedly confounded by the presence of Supergirl playing on the same channel as The Big Bang Theory and Criminal Minds. Rather than let the show die, the CW had the brilliant idea of scooping it and bringing the Kryptonian into the fold with Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow. If the smashing ratings of the recent four-part crossover event “Invasion!” was any indication, this is a model that can work really, really well.
Injecting some comedy into this bevy of superhero programming we’ll be getting next year on both the big- and small-screens will certainly be refreshing, but we’ll have to wait until the Powerless premiere on Thursday, February 2 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern to see if they stick the landing.