The second episode of a new series is notoriously trickier than a pilot. While a pilot needs to set up the world, characters, and basic trademarks of a new television show, the second episode introduces something just a important: how the show works week to week. It needs to set up the format watchers can expect in a normal episode by using the world and character the pilot provided. In many ways a second episode is a better indicator of a show’s potential than a pilot.
As a second episode Wayne Dream Team does well enough. It carries over what worked from the pilot (everything about Alan Tudyk) and improves upon weaker elements (basically Vanessa Hudgens’ entire character.) The plot is a simple enough one, something that (excluding the more fantastical elements that carry over from the DC comics side of things) wouldn’t be out of place on The Office. Emily (Vanessa Hudgens) attempts to manage her team of engineers without acting like the bad guy. Things get complicated when the team gets distracted from their current project by a fantasy-football-esque game. When Emily tries to solve the problem by going to the head of HR, Samuel Greene played perfectly unlikable by Michael D. Cohen, she accidentally gets the entire internet blocked (except for LinkedIn.) Things progress with zany hilarity as Emily tries to avoid the scorn of her workers. All of that, literally every word, could be an episode of The Office if you replace Emily with Michael and Samuel with Toby.
The uniqueness comes from the peripherals. The fantasy-football type league is actually centered around superheroes (how many buildings can Superman stop from tumbling over, how many cruise ships can Crimson Fox save?) The project Emily’s team is working on is an umbrella to protect the user from falling rubble, a product of the near constant superhero battles that plague the DC universe. All of this works, as do nearly all of the characters. Alan Tudyk as Van Wayne remains the stand out (as he is so often wont to do,) while Christina Kirk as Jackie constantly threatens to steal every scene she’s in (I’m still convinced she’s actually Crimson Fox. Has anyone ever seen the two of them in the same place?) A nice improvement is with Emily’s character. She was a blank slate last week, a foil for all the other fun characters to bounce off of. This week she has much more of a personality, albeit a very lonely one with a constant need to be liked.
The trick here needs to be the balance between the workplace comedy and the fact that these characters live in the same world as Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. They need to blend seamlessly and right now they aren’t. The writers go back and forth between the two ideas without ever fully meeting in the middle. I felt that last week’s pilot did a better job of merging the two together. But Powerless is made up of a very competent team and with the right direction I’m sure they can pull it off.
Superhero Spotlight: We got a cameo from Prince Evillo, a villain who opposes The Legion of Super-Heroes from the 30th Century (staring such heroes as Reflecto and Colossal Boy! … Look it up.) The big shout-out came from a report detailing a jumble of DC hallmarks: a fight which ended with The Flash being imprisoned in the Phantom Zone by Synestro. That’s a comic I’d love to read. If you noticed any others leave a comment down below!
Final Score: 6.5/10
Honestly Alan Tudyk alone should be able to drag this up to the 8 range, but I’m lowering the grade to reflect that Powerless has much more room to grow before the overall show reaches that higher level.
+Emily’s character development
+Alan Tudyk, just in general. Between the Yeti Hunting and his All Chimpanzee production of Twelve Angry Men I’d love to get more insight into Van Wayne.
+”No one tells a Wayne where to pee.”
+”Oh my gosh that’s so sad. Is there footage of that?”
-Comic book and workplace comedy element too separate
-Average story that doesn’t stand out
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