POWER OUTAGE

In new TV se­ries Pow­er­less, we meet the un­sung he­roes of the DC Uni­verse...

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Red alert -

With so many su­per­hero sto­ries

dom­i­nat­ing screens these days, you might start to won­der what it’s like to be an av­er­age per­son liv­ing among the su­per­hu­mans cat­a­pult­ing them­selves be­tween sky­scrapers ev­ery day. It’s a ques­tion that writer Ben Queen used to cre­ate a whole se­ries, Pow­er­less. Set in the DC Uni­verse, it fol­lows a group of in­sur­ance claims ad­jus­tors who deal with the af­ter­math and col­lat­eral dam­age of con­stant su­per­hero bat­tles. “Frankly, how do you get to work in the morn­ing when you are deal­ing with su­per-re­lated crazi­ness like a tidal wave from Aqua­man?” Queen muses. “The ag­gra­va­tion of that seemed like a funny thing to ex­plore.”

De­spite the tongue-in-cheek ap­proach, Queen – who pre­vi­ously worked on short-lived le­gal sci-fi drama Cen­tury City – says DC Comics was whole-heart­edly on board from his first pitch. “They were very en­cour­ag­ing and opened up the candy store for us in terms of what we can ref­er­ence and what we can do,” he tells Red Alert. “Right now, when we ref­er­ence a char­ac­ter or an event, we want it to be some­thing peo­ple can re­late to, and laugh at. We’re us­ing less-recog­nis­able su­per­heroes, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deal with Green Lantern-re­lated in­sur­ance claims.”

That means, of course, that DC Uni­verse fans should keep their peep­ers peeled. “In ev­ery episode, there are ob­scure Easter Eggs for comic-book fans,” Queen prom­ises. “DC has been awe­some about it, from Big Belly Burger [a fic­tional DC fast food chain] to Lex Luthor’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, and beau­ti­ful Alex Ross draw­ings that dou­ble as pho­to­graphs on the cover of Rolling Stone.”

How­ever, Queen is quick to point out the se­ries is re­ally about the par­al­lels ex­pe­ri­enced by av­er­age he­roes, like Hud­gens’s forth­right Emily Locke who takes it upon her­self to wage her own bat­tle against their new man­ager, Del (Tudyk), who wants to deny more claims to win points from his CEO fa­ther. The rap­port among the cast is what so­lid­i­fied the con­cept for Queen. “We found these ac­tors and went af­ter them. We wanted them to be peo­ple you could love and get be­hind. So when Vanessa be­came avail­able, ev­ery­thing locked to­gether for our cast. Danny Pudi, we were lucky to get him be­cause he’s crazy funny. And Alan Tudyk is amaz­ing.”

A new­bie to tele­vi­son comedy, Hud­gens ad­mits she’s got a learn­ing curve when it comes to su­per­heroes too. “I didn’t grow up a big comic book per­son, so I have some home­work cut out for me, but I love [Emily] be­cause she’s stand­ing for the fact that you don’t need su­per­pow­ers to be a pow­er­ful per­son. She wants to help peo­ple. It’s her way of mak­ing the world a bet­ter place, one claim at a time.”

Pow­er­less will air on NBC in the US in 2017. A UK broad­caster is TBC.

In ev­ery episode, there are ob­scure Easter Eggs for comic­book fans

Danny Pudi’s Teddy is keen on clap­ping too.

Vanessa Hud­gens and Alan Tudyk: dress­ing smart even if they’re not su­per­heroes.

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