Initial Impressions of Supergirl (TV series)

Unlike with some of my other reviews, I’ve only watched 3 episodes before deciding to do a review. (Ep 4 already aired, but I won’t get to it until this weekend.) So, since I don’t have a whole (or even half) season to base it on, I opted for the “initial impressions” thing. But, like everyone else commenting on the series, I do have a few observations — good and bad — that I want to get off my chest.

Supergirl - flying thru cityFirst, I would like to address a problem I noticed when the “Supergirl” trailer first came out and that I mentioned in a previous post. I had hoped they would have fixed it before (officially) airing the pilot, but they didn’t. In the opening voiceover (of the pilot, at least), adult Kara says “Twenty-four years ago, my planet, Krypton, was in serious peril…. Krypton’s destruction sent a shockwave that knocked my pod off course and into the Phantom Zone, a region in space where time doesn’t pass. I slept there for 24 years, until somehow I got here. When I arrived, I was still a 13-year-old girl….” Later, one of the villains that escaped the Fort Ras(sp?) prison, which landed on Earth the same time as Kara’s pod, says they have been hiding in the shadows for 12 years. This makes sense, since Kara looks to be in her early- to mid-20s. (Since Kal-El was an infant when he left Krypton, and he presumably did not spend more than a few weeks or months in the pod, he would be roughly 36-37 years old now.) BUT, what her voiceover *should* have said is “Thirty-six years ago…”. (Of course, this talk of ages & appearances also assumes that 1) all references to “years” are Earth-equivalent and 2) the extended lifespan for Kryptonians under a yellow Sun isn’t noticeable until well into adulthood.)

MINOR SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!

Two things bug me about Kara Danvers. First, I understand that she’s trying to be unassuming and blend into the background, but she’s a little too naive, insecure, and mousey. And that was the case before she adopted the Supergirl identity, too. (Golly gee willikers!) I guess it is supposed to have something to do with her original plans/expectations going awry and now trying to “find herself” and her purpose. (Cat Grant wasn’t that far off with her remark.) But, to me it seems like, after all of these years, she would have adjusted by now. Besides, she wasn’t raised on a farm in the middle of nowhere. She needs a bit less naivete and a bit more self-confidence,… but not too much.

On the other hand, when she is Supergirl or talking about what Supergirl did, will do, or should do, she comes across as being much more sure of herself — too sure, if you ask me. I mean, I understand the “girl power” thing and wanting to get out from under her cousin’s shadow, wanting to prove herself a hero, etc. I also appreciate her excitement and admire her gumption & determination to figure it all out and use her abilities for good. But, up until the pilot, she was years out of practice from using those abilities. She obviously has no hand-to-hand or other combat training. The metas she is going up against have had their powers for many years, and some have had military training. If I were able to break the fourth wall, I would say to her (in private, of course),

“For pete’s sake, girl, can’t you see that you’re outmatched and lucky to survive most encounters with these guys/gals?! I admire your enthusiasm and bravery, but at least start learning some fighting skills from your sister and ask Henshaw about combat tactics. Besides, between Winn, James, and the DEO, you aren’t doing it on your own. And, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

In fact, I think Superman ought to impart some wisdom re this, rather than just texting an “attagirl”.

Beyond that, I like her, and Melissa Benoist appears to have been a very good casting choice. She is adorable — sort of a cross between Christopher Reeve’s Clark Kent and “Arrow”‘s Felicity Smoak. Well-done on the costume choice, too. I do wonder how she can afford such a nice apartment on the salary of an executive assistant, though. Cat Grant does not seem like she’d be particularly generous in the salaries she pays, especially to a “lowly” EA, but I could be wrong.

I like Jim… excuse me, James Olsen. But, a cool, confident, buff, Black dude just isn’t “Superman’s pal, Jimmy Olsen”. Not to me, anyway. It’s so much of a change, and just doesn’t feel right. I understand the desire to make a connection with “the Big Guy”, but they could/should have either made him a different character or cast a different actor (e.g., that guy “Dave” from episode 3). On the other hand, it does make sense that Olsen is at least somewhat more confident at this age and stage in his career.

Winn Schott‘s an OK character, and he fulfills the role of the tech-savvy buddy who helps our hero. Not sure if this secret crush he has on Kara (who in turn has a crush on James) will eventually cause him such frustration and pain that he goes bad, like his namesake in the comics. Maybe it’ll be something else, or maybe he won’t go bad at all. Maybe Winslow “Toyman” Schott will turn out to be a relative?

Cat Grant is an annoying, self-important, cold-hearted, feminist b*tch. At least, on the outside. If I am supposed to despise her, mission accomplished. On the other hand, maybe she will soften and become a more likable character down the road. It could happen. I suspect we will eventually discover that she was beaten down (literally and/or metaphorically), so that the character gains some sympathy. Maybe that offhand remark about never forgetting childhood traumas was an unintended (by her) peek at her past. I don’t remember any of that from the comics, but I don’t know the character that well. Regardless, Ms. Grant certainly has potential to develop in a lot of ways.

Cast-Wallpaper-supergirl-2015-tv-series-38652517-1280-720As with Winn, I am somewhat ambivalent about Alex Danvers. Sometimes she annoys me, and sometimes not. I probably need to cut her some slack, as she and Kara are struggling to adjust their relationship (and Alex’s with her boss). I do admire that the character did not become resentful of Kara’s “adoption” or jealous of her powers (which Kara apparently hasn’t used much, anyway). Looks like episode 4 may delve into the family dynamic some more, with at least one of the parents showing up. Could be good. Also, interesting idea having Alex be a DEO agent. Back to Alex’s boss, then…

Hank Henshaw is kind of hard to like, what with that gruff exterior and seemingly always being irked or PO’d at someone or something. I guess I can see how the public appearance of another (alien) do-gooder in the environs of National City would make him nervous. But, it’s obvious that he’s better off training and working with Supergirl. On the other hand, with the glowy eyes and possibly enhanced senses he appeared to exhibit briefly in episode 3, it’s obvious he has some secret and possibly ulterior motives for tracking/capturing escaped aliens and/or for not wanting Supergirl on his team. Will he become the “Cyborg Superman” as in the comics, or something totally different? Time will tell…

Now, you may have noticed that I have not ranted and griped — well, maybe just a tad — about the many ways that the show strays from the comic version(s). How uncharacteristic of me. My regular readers know how much I like adaptations to remain faithful to the source material. And, yes, this one bugs me, too; but, not as much as others. Maybe it’s because Supergirl, although I like her, isn’t among my favorite superheroes, so I’m less “invested” in her. Maybe I’m just more “zen” about this one, recognizing that the producers/writers are going to adapt & tweak & retcon whatever they feel like, in order to make something they think will resonate with audiences, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Maybe I’m just tired and decided to give you all a break. (Probably a mix of all three.) But, if I were to mention one other thing that bugs me, it’s how the villains either don’t look right — same complaint I have for DC’s other shows — or they are supposed to be Superman’s villains — at least, first. (Except that Reactron is indeed a Supergirl villain, yet they gave this version a long history with Superman. Sheesh! And why the heck couldn’t Superman defeat this guy?!)

Some have complained about the tone of the show. While I think a somewhat more “serious” tone would have been preferable, I wouldn’t want it to be too dark, either. Closer to “The Flash” than “Arrow” (or “Gotham”, especially), I’d say. However, the lighter tone might work, too, especially if the network & producers are targeting younger/family audiences and others who don’t care for the serious-er, grittier stuff. Of course, there are still dark elements to the show, particularly since so many of the superpowered villains are escaped criminals from the Kryptonian “Fort Ras”(sp?) prison. The ones we’ve seen so far don’t seem to have a problem with killing and causing mayhem. It’s a delicate balance.

Miscellany… decent F/X, decent soundtrack, decent mix of seriousness and humor. I wish the fight scenes were a little more realistic. (That Vartox guy should/could have destroyed her!) But… that’s TV for ya, I guess.

I’ll finish by saying that I’m enjoying the show so far despite its shortcomings and look forward to the rest of the season. The characters and the show itself have a lot of room to grow as everyone — writers, actors, directors, etc. — finds their groove. I hope “Supergirl” finds its own enjoyable, creative niche in the small-screen DC universe.

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2 comments on “Initial Impressions of Supergirl (TV series)

  1. Pingback: Bits-n-Pieces | Heroes and Aliens

  2. Pingback: Follow-up Review of Supergirl (TV series) | Heroes and Aliens

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