Powerless: Wayne or Lose – Alan Tudyk and Vanessa Hudgens (Review)

 Powerless - Season Pilot

Powerless on NBC feels a bit like “reality” mixing uneasily with the comic book verse of Batman, Superman and all those caped heroes who frequent Gotham City, Metropolis and so on. “Wayne or Lose” follows Emily on her first job at an insurance company run by Bruce Wayne’s cousin Van.

Centering primarily on a world where “normal” people are in constant danger of being hurt when super heroes and super villains engage,  Powerless and its female protagonist feels like an extension of the audience.

Emily is, in essence, us; she represents our “everyman” existence but she is in a world where super heroes are a fact of life. Where Ms. Locke comes from, super heroes are flyovers only and never stop in to battle evil. Now in her new job, they are common enough to be mundane.

Hudgens is the “hayseed” who travels to the big city to make a change. She wants to leave big footprints wherever she works and the insurance company gives her a chance.

Emily is the only one impressed by all the super activity going on in the big city. On the subway, when the Crimson Fox saves the train from crashing and killing numerous innocent citizens, only Ms. Locke finds the incident exciting.

Her new company’s think tank and developers are only copying other products and changing the name and colours of their versions. Emily comes in and tries to motivate the bunch but unfortunately they have seen it all before. Four times before in fact.

Locke confronts Wayne when she learns that there were four predecessors who all left. Although Emily is less upset when she finds that they left after being injured as bystanders to a super battle. It seems that her position at Wayne Security will be short-lived.

Van learns that his cousin has fired them all and he will be absorbed into the Gotham branch of the company, something Van has dreamed of. Emily pulls out all the stops and invents, with the help of her team, a product completely different from the competition’s.

At the end of the episode they learn that Batman has used a variation of their super villain warning system and they are all excited. Emily has been accepted, somewhat, and it looks like she will be staying on at the company.

Powerless, despite featuring the more than capable Alan Tudyk, Danny Pudi and a grown up Vanessa Hudgens, is more cute than funny. NBC have opted for a humorous take on the comic book craze by poking gentle fun at the premise of super heroes and super villains endangering innocent civilians.

It may work, although the network have stated that they will not be entering the same DC verse as CW; with Supergirl, Arrow and The Flash. This series is focusing mainly on the Gotham/Batman verse and creator Ben Queen (Cars 2, Drive) is gently easing the audience into this new verse.

With a hero known as the Crimson Fox and a villain called Jack-O-Lantern this was not a promising start to an offshoot of the Wayne family caped crusader. There is a mention of the Joker and in teasers for the show it appears that Emily does date one of the Riddler’s henchmen but this feels like a pallid nod to the “real deal.”

With the blackly comic Gotham already poking fun at the genre with its prequel story of the legend of Batman, this feels like a G rated knock off, somewhat akin to the products that Van’s apathetic insurance company have blandly copied in the series.

Powerless may well turn out to be a barrel of laughs. However the pilot was not overtly funny. It relied instead upon unlikeable two dimensional characters and Hudgens’ “Pollyanna” performance for a few chuckles. Tudyk was pretty much wasted in the premiere and considering his penchant for comedy could have brought a lot more to the role.

NBC have brought us a cute-sy type comedy that needs to up its game if it wants to succeed against the competition. The vastly superior, and damned funny, Superstore may well lead a few viewers to this new show but unless things improve, they will not stick around.

Powerless  airs Thursdays on NBC. Head on over and see what you think. Will this be a hit for Vanessa Hudgens and Alan Tudyk or a miss?

Cast:

Time After Time: Yes, Yet Another Time Travel Show (Review)

FREDDIE STROMA, JOSH BOWMAN

ABC have entered the overflowing time travel game with Time After Time, a downsizing of the 1979 film starring Malcolm McDowell and David Warner in the leading roles of Wells and Jack the Ripper. This introduction of yet another time travel series could well have potential viewers shaking their heads, but this is not on par with the current shows on offer.

For a start, the film, which was a cracking story with some excellent performances, provides the series with a good template to start with. It also benefits from moving the action forward by a good 38 years, or nearly four decades. The pilot works overtime to make this time machine journey arrive in a modern and topical USA. Trump is seen on the big screen television in the hotel bar and cell phones add an interesting facet to the tale.

In essence, Wells introduces his friends to his time machine. As they poke fun at the writer his friend Dr. Stevenson, aka Jack the Ripper is busy killing yet another London prostitute. Stevenson arrives one step ahead of Scotland Yard who are conducting a house to house search.

Anyone who has seen the 1979 film will know what happens next. Stevenson uses Wells’ machine to escape to a future time in New York. Not having the key, the time traveling device returns to Wells home. The writer then follows Stevenson to the future.

As pilots go, this one is full of clever bits and some pretty impressive acting by the leads. Genesis Rodriguez is alluring, endearing and plucky, in turns, and Stroma, along with Bowman, are beyond brilliant in their respective roles.

The Brit actors do a cracking job bringing their interpretation of the roles played by McDowell and Warner in 1979 to the small screen. Show creator Kevin Williamson, the man who teamed up with Wes Craven to create the wildly popular Scream franchise,  has given us a villain and a hero that we can sink our teeth into.

Stevenson is thrilled to find that the future is violent and full of promise.  Wells is horrified that his friend is a murderer who used his contraption to escape being caught back in Victorian England.

Time After Time looks brilliant. Director Marcos Siega is running a taut ship for the pilot and the quality of the production feels more like a film than a weekly television series. The sets are spectacular and the quality of the camera work is reminiscent of the cinema.  This new series screams big screen from the very first frame.

Unlike NBC’S Timeless, or the Netflix offering of Travelers, Time After Time  is not about preserving history or trying to fix a problem in the past that affects the future. This series is more personal and intimate.

Sure Timeless has a team chasing a villain but it all amounts to a much broader brush stroke. It is a group of people fighting to defeat an evil organization versus a single man trying to catch a killer across time.  The two shows may well be a tad similar in their plot devices but the ways and means differ enormously.

Time After Time is set to air in early 2017 with ABC not yet revealing a premiere date. Looking at the show’s pilot episode however,  one thing is certain, whenever the series arrives it will definitely impress.

Cast:

The Mick: Pilot – A Better Version of “Uncle Buck” (Review)

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Perhaps the only grumble about the “early” season premiere of The Mick could be that most of the gags had been telegraphed quite clearly with all those hysterical teasers. Looking at the pilot objectionably, however,  it was still very, very funny. This  female “Uncle Buck” version is much better than the awkward ABC iteration where Mike Epps played the title character.

The opening segment, where the aunty goes through the supermarket using products directly from the shelf, up to and including shaving cream and a razor for her “pits,” ends with a liberal helping of Johnson’s Baby Powder on the old nethers. As she leaves the store, a homeless chap with a trolley is handed five beers from a six pack.

The self satisfied smirk on her face says it all as Kaitlin Olson walks out of the camera’s view.  Olson proves that she is not afraid to suffer for her art. In all reality those leaps over the vegetation at her sister’s mansion  was done by a stuntwoman. However, indulging in slapstick comedy, which includes those painful pratfalls, ain’t, as they say, easy.

Just ask Chevy Chase.

The Mick  manages to do something that the ABC Uncle Buck remix could not. It removes the parents completely and allows full interaction between the aunt and those snotty rich kids.  The pilot tells us that we were always right about those overly privileged “spoon in the mouth” children.

Entitled and with loads of attitude, two of the three youngsters are annoying and full of themselves.  Sabrina (Sofia Black-D’Elia) is the Kendall Jenner “lookalike” who takes on her aunty and loses the first two rounds. 

Thomas Barbusca is Chip, the middle kid with an exaggerated sense of self, who wants to sue everyone. Jack Stanton plays Ben, the youngest of the three and, thus far, the nicest of the bunch.

Sabrina has her cigarettes stolen by her aunt and later is slipped a mickey to keep her from going to a party.  The gal who can handle her liquor caves in after being given “five different sleeping medications.”  The scene ends with her being carried to her room.

Chip is given the world’s worst advice on how to handle his nemesis at school. This scene is one that anyone watching the teasers will remember. It is still funny, regardless of the spoilers, and this says something for the quality of the script and the actors.

The housekeeper, Alba (Played by Carla Jimenez.) gets her fair share of comic moments and the interaction between the housekeeper and Olson’s character is spot on.

The Mick promises to be one heck of a funny show.  Olson is brilliant and clearly not afraid of making herself look less than attractive. Those wine-stained and swollen lips, with eyes to match, are incredibly funny. Especially when combined with the whole straighter than straight delivery.

A lot more of the story was revealed in the pilot. We get a better idea of who Olson’s character is and this does look to be a splendid take on the Uncle Buck formula, sans John Candy.

FOX have given us a show that is not afraid to have the “grownup” drug her teenage charge to keep her at home. (The implication was that the “absinthe” was in fact NyQuill.) The same woman gives the younger brother incredibly bad advice on how to handle his bully.

Telling the youngster to pull the other boy’s pants down and point out his tiny “pecker” is wildly inappropriate. It is, however, damned funny. The punch line is that the bully is not “tiny” and not the least intimidated by Chip’s attempt at humiliation.

The rich kid’s lament that he is lucky not to have been beaten by the bully’s member is also funny to the extreme. The young actor’s delivery is spot on.

The Mick is full of that brand of irreverent humor that is so funny when applied properly.  Olson and her co-stars look set to deliver a show that will keep the audience in stitches.

The show premieres on Sunday, 1 January in the new year. Stop by and check this one out. You will be glad you did as Olson and the rest of the cast rock.

Conviction: Haley Atwell Plays American Justice System (Review)

HAYLEY ATWELL

Hayley Atwell goes on to prove there is life after Agent Carter by starring in the new ABC crime drama Conviction. The show that delves into the American justice system to right wrongful convictions airs 3 October this year.

It is a curious series and as part of the fall schedule offers a different look at crime.  Atwell plays  Hayes Morrison, the daughter of a former first lady who is still in politics. (Hillary Clinton anyone?) She is a topnotch lawyer who spends too much time getting in the newspapers for all the wrong reasons.

The pilot episode starts with Morrison in jail for cocaine possession and the D.A. forces her to go after wrongful convictions to clean up his record. She is beyond reluctant and fights Wallace, and her mother, every step of the way.

The first case is a football player convicted of murdering his girlfriend. Initially it looks like the evidence is stacked up against him. However, as the new team begin to check the facts it looks like the young man was railroaded.

None of her assembled team particularly care for Morrison and the feeling is mutual. As the investigation delves into the crime and the evidence, however,  the group begin to bond.  Everyone brings something to the table and eventually the truth is uncovered.

Conviction has  brilliant cast. Atwell is always good value as a performer. Although her stock American accent falters here and there in its execution.  Emily Kinney proves that she can act in something other than The Walking Dead.

Eddie Cahill provides just enough gravitas to his role and Shawn Ashmore proves there is life after The Following.  Merrin Dungey is the “cop” on the team and she brings a certain amount of truth to her character.  Manny Montana gives good angst and determination as Cruz.

The new show is a combination of CSI and soap opera. Team members all seem to have either a subtext, hidden agenda or a dramatic backstory to be learned later.

Even Kinney’s character, who has yet to have a lot of relevant screen time, has a secret that Morrison knows about.

There is quite a bit of forensic testing going on from Cruz and Larson. Investigations in the woods, where the victim was found shot, work well and later the pig experiment mirrors real life forensic science.

A lazy cop, a mother who read her dead daughter’s diary and a newly determined Morrison are all part of this case.  It all comes together in the end with a snap, crackle and pop despite a few false starts and stops along the way.

It will be interesting to see if a crusading and privileged lawyer will catch on with audiences. Atwell is a more than capable actress and if anyone can pull off the silver spoon heroine act, she can.

The formula of Convicted may need to be tweaked here and there but overall it does entertain. At the end of the first episode Hayes Morrison’s cautious enthusiasm is catching.

Atwell and her costars bring a lot to this wrongly convicted table and overall, despite the leanings towards a soap opera subplot, Conviction looks pretty good.

The show airs Mondays on ABC starting 3 October.

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The Tick: Amazon Superhero Spoof Attempt (Review)

Logo for The Tick

Amazon have released their own live-action version of superhero spoof The Tick. This will be the second attempt at bringing the Ben Edlund comic to television, not counting the animated series. The first time out, The Tick featured Patrick Warburton in the blue suit.

That one lasted nine episodes.

The time up, Peter Serafinowicz (Shaun of the Dead “It’s  four o’clock in the f**king morning,” Guardians of the Galaxy “What a load of “A” holes.”) is the blue garbed superhero. He is all teeth, long-winded rhetoric, super strength  and a very upbeat attitude. Pretty much like the comic really.

For a pilot about The Tick, he does not have as much screen time as his new sidekick, Arthur (Griffin Newman) aka Mothman in the comics. In this iteration of the verse, Arthur’s suit is less white and has shorter…ears. He may not be mistaken for a bunny in this show. 

As pilots go, this one starts off pretty good. The exploding, just above ground level, of the alien spacecraft above Tunguska, Siberia “back in the day” to The Tick’s voice over as funny and impressive.

 “Your reindeer are on fire.”

“Sh*t.”

This is a promising start.

It features Whoopi Goldberg in an Oprah-like cameo interviewing Superian;  a superhero who is battling  The Terror (played by the superb Jackie Earle Haley). Do not attempt to recognize Jackie, his character is too heavily made up. 

Arthur Everest (Griffin Newman) is a weedy, bespectacled chap who had a run-in with The Terror when he was a child.  The interaction was caught on camera and it made him famous. He is investigating the super criminal and has a sister named Dot, played by Valorie Curry (The Following, House of Lies).

The Tick and Arthur meet at a villain stronghold and  the meek man is arrested for trespassing.  We are treated to a flashback of his father dying underneath a superhero aircraft brought down by The Terror and some of his minions.

Arthur has a “tic” already. His eye blinks when he is nervous or stressed. Dot is not pleased with his arrest and she realizes that he is tracking The Terror again.

In the pilot The Tick meets Arthur, gives him the moth suit, which is bulletproof and will allow him to fly, none of which we see this time out.

This is a world where superheroes have been around since 1908 (Remember Tunguska?) and the public take them as fact.  The pilot episode is quirky and not quite laugh out loud funny. Thus far it is , however, weirdly amusing.

Serafinowicz comes across very well as the overly verbose super being, in a blue suit with antenna, but at times is seems…creepy. Certainly The Tick is not the sharpest tool in the shed but what he lacks in brains he makes up for with “everything else.” (His words, not ours.)

Apart from the animated series, The Tick has not fared well on television.  Patrick Warburton (who is an executive producer on this new series) did not overly impress as the first “live-action” version of The Tick in 2001.

Fans of the comics, or the 1994 animated series, do not like live action apparently. Or it could be that it is too difficult for them to make the transition.

It could even be too soon.  With Marvel and DC battling at the box-office and small screens of the world for attention with “real” superheroes, perhaps this is a parody out of place. Maybe in a few years time when comic adaptations outnumber “regular” TV shows The Tick may fare better.

However, the opinions of disgruntled fans aside, The Tick is amusing and looks to have  a lot of promise. Wally Pfister (Transcendence, Flaked) directed this pilot and he does a excellent job with the episode. 

The pilot of the show is streaming now on Amazon. It is free to watch and they want your feedback for this possible new series. Head over and check it out.