‘Powerless’ – ‘Wayne or Lose’ review
Emily Locke lands her dream job as Director of Research and Development for Wayne Security in Charm City, home to super heroes and villains and citizens fed up with the collateral damage of their constant fighting. Full of confidence and big ideas, Emily quickly learns that her aspirations far exceed those of her new boss and officemates, so it will be up to her to lead the team toward their full potential and the realization that you don’t need superpowers to be a hero.
It was with great trepidation I went in to my viewing of ‘Wayne of Lose’. ‘Powerless’ has had quite a journey to get to the screen. First announced as a workplace comedy based around lawyers dealing with the aftermath of superhero events the show is now a totally different entity. At some point the entire premise was changed to make the characters employees of Wayne Security who create technology to help protect us mere mortals.
The switch in premise definitely pushes this series from realist to hyper-realist. In many ways the change also makes sense. Had the characters been lawyers their interactions with characters would be very much after the fact. Working as they do now they’re able to be placed more within the action. That is witnessed in this episode by the appearances of Jack O’Lantern. Instead of representing his victims the Wayne Security gang are able to work on a product to help protect the citizens of Charm City.
Vanessa Hudgens feels a little lost in ‘Wayne of Lose’ her infections energy comes over a little forced. Emily has a convincing enough back story and there is enough depth to make her almost feel real. But the performance goes beyond the comic to more of a parody. Hopefully she is able to settle in and feel more comfortable as the series develops.
In many ways all of the characters in ‘Powerless’ are caricatures of how they would appear in the real world, that’s the nature of comedy. Between Danny Pudi, Alan Tudyk and Christina Kirk there are some really strong actors in the ensemble. Those three in particular feel comfortable with their characters from the outset. All three are able to put some personality in to their characters which really give the show a solid grounding.
Van Wayne is as close to a villain as ‘Powerless’ gets. He’s pompous and arrogant but somehow still comes off as likeable. It’s highly unlikely that Bruce Wayne will ever appear on the show. Instead of keeping him just off screen at all times ‘Powerless’ turns the misfortune in to great comedy. Van Wayne’s constant need for approval from his cousin is hilarious and easily a highlight of the episode.
Dialogue is punchy. Teddy and Jackie pull most of the great lines whilst Van Wayne acts very much like the only guy in the room. Emily suffers from being the audience eye in to this world so much of her dialogue is to push the story forwards.
There are very few quiet moments in ‘Powerless’. There is also very little emotional resonance. What often gives a comedy series its longevity is the emotional investment in its characters. Their own emotional development can also be key to success. With none of that in ‘Wayne or Lose’ it’s difficult to see what will make ‘Powerless’ last.
‘Wayne of Lose’ is not bad as far as pilots go. There’s a lot for DC Universe fans to enjoy with its great many easter eggs and nods but it suffers from being a little too slapstick. Sophisticated is not a word I could use to describe ‘Powerless’ but bad it not a word I would use either.
Checkout this preview of the pilot episode:
‘Powerless’ stars Vanessa Hudgens (‘High School Musical’) as Emily Locke, Danny Pudi (‘Community’) as Teddy, Alan Tudyk (‘Firefly’) as Van Wayne the much maligned cousin of Gotham’s own Bruce Wayne, Christina Kirk (‘Along Came Polly’) as Jackie and Ron Funches (‘Trolls’) as Ron.
Ben Queen (‘A to Z,’ ‘Cars 2’) serves as writer and executive producer. Director Michael Patrick Jann (pilot, ‘A to Z,’ ‘Children’s Hospital,’ ‘Reno 911!’) also executive produces. ‘Powerless’ is produced by Warner Bros. Television and based on the characters from DC.
‘Powerless’ airs on NBC, Thursdays at 8:30pm.