Powerless S01E04 Review “Emily Dates a Henchman” (Spoiler free)

Originally posted to Facebook on 2/24/17

I decided to write a proper review! I am open to (and requesting) feedback on my review and my writing style, and I’d love to hear what other people thought of the episode as well. Thanks guys!

Review of episode 4 of Powerless. “Emily Dates a Henchman” (no spoilers)

First, the big question, did this episode continue the big upswing in quality of episode 3 “Sinking Day”, or did it return to the flatness of the first 2 episodes. Well, neither really, but much closer to the former. This episode wasn’t as good as the last one, but it was still better than the ones that came before. This is somewhat understandable, considering *how* good episode 3 was.

This episode contained two stories, the main one being the titular discovery that Emily is dating a villainous henchman. The B story followed the male characters in their quest to meet Batman. The biggest issue with this episode was a lack of stakes in either plot. While both had several opportunities for humor (which they successfully took), there wasn’t much in the way of character growth or forwarding of greater plot. In last week’s “Sinking Day”, one of the best parts was that, in addition to the good comedy, there was a lot of growth for Alan Tudyk’s Van Wayne, as well as the furthering of his friendship with Emily. This week’s episode lacked that. The closest we get is in the men’s arc, which gave us a chance to see Tudyk interacting with Danny Pudi and Ron Funches’ characters in a way that wasn’t the typical boss/employee shtick. This will hopefully lead to stories and interactions that go beyond standard corporate comedy fare and more into the family dynamic that was seen in later seasons of Parks and Recreation.

While the Batman arc ended somewhat anticlimactically, it did tie in very well to the ending of the henchman arc in a fun, unexpected way. Also, the tone of the show is still being dialed in, with different characters treating the show with varying levels of camp vs seriousness. The female characters especially have been unsteady in how they’ve been playing it, and I’m not sure if that’s due to writing, acting or both. Vanessa Hudgens has been sitting on the lighter side of serious the whole time, but that’s likely due to how her character has been written. Christina Kirk is the closest thing this show has to a no-nonsense character like Ron Swanson or Captain Raymond Holt (Parks and Rec, and Brooklyn 99 respectively), but she lacks the gravitas and conviction that veterans Nick Offerman or Andre Braugher bring to their roles. Hopefully with more time and sharper writing her character will either grow a direction that best suits her performance or her performance will grow to suit the character she’s being written as now. Jennie Pierson’s character, Wendy, is the weakest of the bunch, but that’s likely due to her not being given much to work with and therefore she is forced to go full-camp in order to squeeze every second of screen time into something memorable, at the cost of it being something necessarily good.

On the male side, Pudi and Funches have been more camp than serious, but at least they’ve been sticking to it. Their dynamic is fun to watch and less reminiscent of Troy and Abed, but closer to “characters Troy and Abed would play” if that makes sense. And Tudyk, likely due to experience, is hitting a fantastic blend of camp actions but played seriously, which grounds the comedy despite having some of the more ridiculous bits. It was interesting this episode to see all the men interact, given their different approaches so far. It had the possibility of causing some dissonance but actually worked quite well.

All in all, a good episode. And though it didn’t hit the highs of last week’s, it’s still a good sign that the show is settling into a positive rhythm that spells good things for the show’s future.

Rating: B-

New mid-season shows

Originally posted on Facebook on 2/17/17

Sam’s thoughts on TV shows (since there’s nothing else to do while I’m sick).

Holy shit, Powerless.

I was really hoping that show would find its groove soon after its first 2 episodes were middling at best, but I never expected the turnaround to be so quick. Episode 3 was very good. It really hit the tone I was wishing for (Better Off Ted with superheroes). Not only was the tone and comedy world’s better, but we finally began to learn about the characters. Danny Pudi is still one of the least developed, but that’s ok, because every generic line he is given he plays up with an Abed-esque devotion to camp. Alan Tudyk’s ‘Van Wayne’ character was allowed to shine some and show that he is not just the “buffoon boss” trope, and actually does things right (in amidst his buffoonery). Overall a very solid episode that I hope will open the door to more great episodes to come.

On the other end of the TV spectrum is APB, a cop show with a twist. The show follows a billionaire industrialist engineer (totally not Tony Stark) who, after a tragic accident (again, not Tony Stark) decides to put his good looks, charm, and most importantly wealth and gadgetry towards helping the people of his city (ok, he’s basically a rip off of Tony Stark). But rather than building a suit like his clear inspiration did, this character decides (though tv hand-waving) to privatize a police district in a rough area of Chicago. Upgrading this squad with top notch gear and equipment, and giving it’s citizenry free access to the titular APB smartphone app, he sets off to clean up these streets. He uses several “inventions of the week” and his close partnership with one of the detectives who gives him lessons from how cops operate without resorting to high tech gadgets.

Overall, I felt that the show had an interesting premise, and 2 episodes in, I feel it delivers on that. Not unlike the early seasons of Person of Interest (I comment only in the early seasons, since that’s all I’ve seen, through no fault of the show), it starts off strong and hits the ground running. The dialogue can be a little rote sometimes (especially when they get into technobabble), but the main character is as charming as can be in this role (or at least how charming someone who isn’t RDJ can be), and the tech is fun to watch in action. I’m hooked so far, and will likely continue to be as long as the little flaws get ironed out over time and don’t become gateways to larger issues.

Initial impressions of NBC’s Powerless

Originally posted to Facebook on 2/13/17

Soooooo……Powerless. I’m trying to put into words my opinion of this show. The premise is good. Sort of Better Off Ted but set in the DC Comics universe. And the performances are good. But in these first two episodes, the writing just isn’t good enough. To the point where it feels like they are trying to make the most accessible, broad comedy they can. It all falls sort of flat, and while there have been a few funny moments, nothing has made me laugh out loud (especially having just come off of rewatches of greats like Arrested Development and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia). I really hope it starts to tighten up and find its voice soon, especially since I will be watching each week regardless because it is a comic book related show starring Alan Tudyk and Danny Pudi. Come on, that’s basically targeted right at me. I’m just saddened to discover that if they are going to target me so specifically, they aren’t bothering to focus on the writing.