CBS gets into the superhero game with Supergirl but does it fly on it’s own or does it pale under the might of the other super hero themed onslaught on prime-time?

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Supergirl is a new action-adventure drama based on the DC Comics character Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin who escaped Krypton at the same time as Kal-El. Aged 13 when she left and tasked with watching over her cousin as he grew up, her shuttle ended up lost in the time less phantom zone for 24 years before landing on Earth with an already grown up Superman. Growing up with foster parents and friends of Superman Fred and Sylvia Danvers (Dean Cain and Helen Slater…yes that Dean Cain), Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) is now a twenty-four year old working in National City as an assistant to the city’s most powerful woman Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart). It wasn’t until a freak “accident” that puts her sister Alex (Chyler Leigh) at mortal risk does she use her Kryptonian powers to rescue the citizens of National City.

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Supergirl has a lot going for it, starting with it’s impressive heritage of creators Allison Adler (Chuck, Glee, The New Normal), Greg Berlanti (Dawson’s Creek, Everwood, Arrow, The Flash), and Andrew Kreisberg (Arrow, The Flash). The show definitely have this odd feel though, being part feminine lead drama with a tough of neurotic humor combined with touches of super-hero action pacing. Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about reliving the terribly over-dramatic Smallville style character development, as right off the bat, Kara embraces her super status and goes of to be a hero.

But her over eagerness to be a hero, while a big part of her character, also seems to be the weakest part of the show. Her clear naiveté towards the ruthlessness of the world despite the hardships her cousin had faced leads her into some sticky situations immediately, and her over zealous enthusiasm leads her to reveal her secret in less than 12 hours to her co-worker Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan), an IT specialist at CatCo who clearly is in love with Kara. Of interesting note, Winn Schott plays a major role in the DC universe as the supervillan “The Toyman.” It’s unclear how that will play out on this series. Regardless, it’s completely insane that she would reveal herself to someone so quickly. Not even Batman told his secret identity that quickly, and I have to wonder how this will play in the future.

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The one thing it does though is eliminate a potential cliché story point of her hiding her identity to the guy she may or may not have a relationship with and the ongoing saga of the slow reveal of her truth. Despite this, it just doesn’t make sense and makes for some poor personal security decisions.

Annoyingly, we also have a second person in her life to play a potential love interest to complete the triangle. Famed photographer Jimmy Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) has left his job in Metropolis to take a job at CatCo. Though I’m not sure if this relationship would go very far as it’s quickly revealed he was sent by Superman himself to keep an eye on Kara. Additionally, casting Jimmy Olsen, who is known as a goofy unassuming photographer, as an unbelievably (and by that I mean unrealistically) hot model to be an object of Kara’s affection seems pretty weak and distracting to the audience, or at least fans of the universe in general.

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Some of the more distracting parts of the pilot revolve around the forced anti-patriarchal portrayal of super powered women in comics. During the costuming scene, it flaunts the ridiculousness of female superhero costuming with a clearly gross costume before settling on the more muted mini-skirt style costume sans the traditional bare mid-drift. In another scene later, her argument with her boss Cat Grant over the moniker “Supergirl” as opposed to “Super-woman” seems heavily forced towards the different detractors and defending itself against a possibly perceived sexist overtone. In reality, it just feels like it pulls us out of the flow of the episode to needlessly justify itself against an argument no one actually was defending.

At its surface, Supergirl seems like an interesting super hero show aimed to compete with the growing number of super powered based programs that have dominated the tv landscape in recent years, which I think is actually it’s least important trait. The reality is Supergirl at its core is a story of an perfectly-pleasant-in-every-way woman trying to rediscover her role in the world against a society attempting to keep her mediocre, but in the process, worriedly leaves the heroine as at best a formulatic “girl power” character, but at worst a too naive to be realistic character.

In the end though, Supergirl so far is a perfectly adequate affair that far more light hearted than it’s competition while she herself encompasses the perfect-girl-scout persona that mirrors her older-younger cousin.

Other Observations

  • It seems that the DEO (Department of Extra normal Operations) will be her support group in the series.
  • The Fort Rozz phantom zone installation is a Kryptonian prison. If such crashed on Earth, wouldn’t that have been pretty hard to cover up? Also, why wouldn’t Superman have rounded all of them up the last decade?
  • How is Kara qualified to fight anyone? Has she ever had any kind of fighting training?
  • When she said three people knew her secret, who were they? Sister, Parents, and Superman? Isn’t that four?
  • DEO took her down so fast it was hilarious. That was straight up Bruce Wayne style.
  • Why exactly did her sister have a sudden change of heart?
  • How does she afford an apartment like that?
  • Jimmy Olsen, known Superman confidant, shows up in National City and then suddenly there’s a new super hero around? That’s just too convenient.
  • “There’s no such thing as aliens” Isn’t it widely known that Superman is an alien?
  • Seeing Superman’s face was explicitly left out.