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'Powerless' adds laughs to the DC Universe

As long as it doesn't rely solely on references to DC Comics lore, this sitcom could take off.

POWERLESS -- Pilot -- Pictured: (l-r) Danny Pudi as Teddy, Vanessa Hudgens as Emily, Christina Kirk as Jackie

NBC, Chris Large/NBC

Warner Bros Television debuted the pilot for its DC Comics-based comedy "Powerless," starring Vanessa Hudgens and Alan Tudyk, during Preview Night on Wednesday at 2016 San Diego Comic-Con.

In the show, premiering midseason on NBC, Hudgens ("High School Musical," "Grease: Live") plays Emily Locke, who works for Retcon Insurance, along with Danny Pudi ("Community"), who plays her friend and co-worker Teddy. Tudyk ("Firefly," "Con Man") is Del, their new boss and foil.

Retcon Insurance (love that name) deals with the aftermath of superhero battles, especially falling rubble and debris. The show takes place in Charm City, and it doesn't take long before we see just the kind of interaction with superheroes the company has to deal with on a daily basis.

My biggest takeaway from the show is how much stuff from the comics they've packed into just the first episode, starting with using covers from old issues of various DC Comics in the credits to introduce the cast, and the inclusion of two characters from the first incarnation of the "Super Friends" cartoon.

Fortunately, based on this pilot, it seems like they realized that in addition to comic book content there'd need to be actual laughs. After all, a weekly "I understood that reference" show could wear its welcome out quickly.

It does feel a little weird to see a workplace comedy set in a superhero universe, but I dig it. I laughed out loud more than once during the pilot, and pilots have to spend most of the episode setting up the premise, so that seemed promising.

Follow CNET's SDCC 2016 coverage here.

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