NBC, the network currently known for having all of those Chicago shows, is thinking maybe this superhero craze has some legs (just not if its Constantine). As such, it has given a green light to the DC comics series Powerless. But there’s a twist! It’s not a one-hour drama but a comedy series, one that deals with the minutia and fallout from the stuff that happens in the other DC series and movies — mainly, dealing with the damage (a recurring theme, as ABC is also developing Damage Control from Marvel).
“In the first comedy series set in the universe of DC Comics, Vanessa Hudgens (“Grease Live,” “High School Musical”) plays Emily, a spunky young insurance adjuster specializing in regular-people coverage against damage caused by the crime-fighting superheroes. It’s when she stands up to one of these larger-than-life figures (after an epic battle messes with her commute) that she accidentally becomes a cult “hero” in her own right … even if it’s just to her group of lovably quirky co-workers. Now, while she navigates her normal, everyday life against an explosive backdrop, Emily might just discover that being a hero doesn’t always require superpowers. The cast includes Alan Tudyk, Danny Pudi and Christina Kirk.”
Though it isn’t clear if any superheroes (or any well-known superheroes, at least) will actually appear in the series, it seems fairly unlikely. As far as the creative team behind the show, A to Z’s Ben Queen is set to write and executive produce alongside Michael Patrick Jann, who will direct the pilot.
In addition to Powerless, NBC is also picking up the comedy Trial & Error to series:
In this outrageous fish-out-of-water comedy, bright-eyed New York lawyer Josh Segal heads to a tiny Southern town for his first big case. His mission? To defend an eccentric, “rollercizing” poetry professor (John Lithgow, “3rd Rock From the Sun”) accused of the bizarre murder of his beloved wife. Settling into his makeshift office behind a taxidermy shop and meeting his quirky team of local misfits, Josh suspects that winning his first big case will not be easy, especially when his client is always making himself look guilty. “Making a Murderer” can be funny! The cast includes John Lithgow, Nicholas D’Agosto, Jamya Mays, Sherri Shepherd, Steven Boyer and Krysta Rodriguez.
These pickups are in addition to Drew Goddard’s The Good Place comedy series, as well as dramas Taken (with Luc Besson serving as a producer) and Emerald City, which will be a dark, twisted story set in the Land of Oz.
NBC desperately needs to revitalize its roster, and for awhile the peacock network was doing some pretty interesting things (with Hannibal and Constantine). But, while critically appreciated and a niche hit with fans, nothing has popped in the ratings for awhile. Though it has recently turned its sights to more live productions to bolster viewership (and gimmicks like throwing all of Aquarius’ episodes online early, or burning its comedies off quickly instead of week to week), nothing yet has really paid off.
So, instead of more creativity, NBC is sticking to TV shows out of movies or stories that are tried and true (it’s worked fairly well for them and their many Chicago series). Still, there’s a hope that even though the ideas aren’t necessarily new, the shows will bring something fresh and interesting to the TV landscape, and maybe even — in the case of Powerless — to the superhero genre as a whole.