“Donuts” has the best chance of making it because of the interaction between Hirsch and Jermaine Fowler, who plays a street-smart artist who lands a job at the doughnut shop.
There’s potential with “Powerless” as it looks at the real-world effects of having superheroes battling in the city. The first episode just doesn’t flex enough muscle.
Here’s a quick preview of the new comedies.
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“Superior Donuts” (8:30 p.m. Thursday)
The series starts with a strong pedigree, as it’s based on the 2008 play of the same name written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts. The comedy unfolds in a doughnut shop in a gentrifying neighborhood in Chicago.
Fowler not only stars in the show but is also a producer and one of the writers. His background is in sketch comedy but he brings a long history of appreciating the situation comedy format.
“I was raised on watching sitcoms. I watched sitcoms since I was a kid, so I love long-form comedy. I got into sketches in high school, and I was raised on YouTube at one point. So that’s the machine. You do short-form comedy,” Fowler says. “But my heart always (was) in performing the sitcoms.
“So doing the show was just my dream. I’ve always wanted to do it. I love acting. I love writing.”
And he’s writing for Hirsch, an actor who was part of one of the most critically heralded comedies of all time, “Taxi.” He agreed to be part of the new comedy because of the strong writing.
The series also features Katey Sagal, who had her own sitcom success with “Married … with Children.” She got the script for “Superior Donuts” while making a guest appearance on “The Big Bang Theory” as Penny’s mother. Hirsch, who was on the episode playing Leonard’s father, encouraged Sagal to do the series.
“Powerless” (8:30 p.m. Thursday)
Ever wonder what happens to all those people who try to live their lives while superheroes and villains destroy half the city? It’s up to the team at Wayne Security, a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises, to keep them safe.
Vanessa Hudgens plays a wide-eyed optimist newly hired to run the project development wing. This is the first series regular role for Hudgens since she danced and sang her way to stardom with the “High School Musical” movies.
“I love workspace comedies. ‘The Office’ is my all-time favorite show, and ‘Parks and Recreation,’ and they are both on NBC. So when I found out NBC was doing another half-hour workspace comedy, I was, like, ‘Oh, that would be an amazing thing to be a part of,’ ” Hudgens says. “Then adding DC Comics as the backdrop for the show, I just knew that it would be something completely original.
“What’s really neat about doing art and performing is doing something that hasn’t really been done before, also something that’s lighthearted that will just be kind of an escape for people.”
Her character and the rest of the cast will be dealing with the effects of superheroes, and a few obscure champions from DC Comics will make an appearance. Don’t look for any of the major costumed characters, because many are tied up with series on another network or film franchises.
There are also a lot of rules when dealing with established heroes. If an episode calls for only Batman’s hands to be in a scene, only Ben Affleck could portray those appendages because he’s the current Caped Crusader.