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The world belongs to those with superpowers; the rest of us are just living in it. That’s the clear sentiment of NBC’s midseason sitcom Powerless, which just so happens to take place within the DC Comics Universe. Starring Vanessa Hudgens as an employee at an insurance agency handling claims from the destruction caused by superheroes, the series takes your average workplace comedy and adds a little something extra into the equation – like casual mentions of Green Lantern, Hawkman, and Lex Luthor, along with train derailments caused by fireballs. That’s not something you’re going to see during the commute to the Scranton offices of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.

The trailer’s opening scene sets the tone for the series, suggesting superheroes are sometimes the cause of and solution to most superhero problems. But as the series is told from the point of view of the titular powerless denizens just trying to make it to work without being blasted to smithereens, the series also seems to suggest that living in a world obsessed with superheroes can sometimes be a drag. The powerlessness felt by Hudgens’ Emily Locke is then translated into an ongoing struggle inside her office, as Firefly‘s Alan Tudyk makes the sort of bottom line-focused demands typically made of incoming new management as a way of demonstrating their…well, power.

But the series isn’t just office power struggles and meta-commentary on our superhero-saturated media, there’s also a strong supporting cast of office drones led by Danny Pudi, Kate Micucci, and Christina Kirk – who gets a great line about Aquaman to close the trailer out – hinting that the series will be a pretty funny workplace comedy that just so happens to have comic book characters running around in the background.

POWERLESS — Pilot — Pictured: (l-r) Atlin Mitchell as Crimson Fox, Vanessa Hudgens as Emily — (Photo by: Chris Large/NBC)

The trailer makes certain to reference as many characters from DC’s line-up as possible – even using a graphic featuring Batman and Superman that looks suspiciously like an advertisement for Batman V Superman – but that’s not just smart from a marketing standpoint; it’s the entire point of the show. After all, when your job involves debating whether damage caused by Wonder Woman is an act of God or a gray area because she’s a demi-god, then who wouldn’t be talking about superheroes all the time?

Powerless won’t be on NBC’s schedule until midseason – unless the network needs to fill some space sooner after the fall season begins – so it is going to be awhile before there’s more of the series to see. So far, it looks as though executive producer Ben Queen (A to Z) has the makings of a solid workplace comedy – one that has just enough of the right element to attract those who might not typically gravitate toward network sitcoms. Time will tell if marrying these two elements will make for a winning formula, and if so, we can expect to see ABC’s Damage Control sooner rather than later.

Powerless will air on NBC as a midseason premiere. We will have more details for you as they are made available.

May 20, 2016

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