Follow-up Review of Supergirl (TV series)

Supergirl - yellow bkgrd with symbolBack in November 2015, I posted my initial impressions of the “Supergirl” TV series, after having watched only the first 3 episodes. As expected, there were some things that annoyed me, but overall I liked the show and continued to watch. The series did well enough to be extended to 20 episodes and finally finished up its freshman season last month (April 2016). (As I noted in an update to another post the other day, “Supergirl” has been renewed for a second season but has moved from CBS over to the CW, home of DC’s other TV series.) So, I thought I’d briefly review some of the issues from the first post….

Fortunately, the main characters have all grown a lot as people and in their relationships during the few months we saw them, and we’ve also learned some background information that helps the audience to understand them better. So, hats off to the writers.

After my “Initial Impressions” post, something occurred to me. For several years in the Superman comics and movies — particularly the Christopher Reeve era –, Clark Kent’s public persona was that of a somewhat goofy, clutzy, unsure, golly-gee farm boy. His real personality, however, was much closer to that which he displayed as the confident (but not cocky) hero Superman. What the writers of “Supergirl” have done is flip that idea on its head. Kara’s real personality is the “somewhat goofy, clutzy, unsure, golly-gee” goodgirl, but she puts on a brave act (generally speaking) for her superheroic adventuring. Interesting…

I have grown to appreciate this version of Kara/Supergirl and like that she has retained a lot of her “innocence” and optimism. Still, she has come a long way, gaining more confidence both personally and professionally. She has been through a lot emotionally, and it shows. So far, she is maturing without becoming cynical.

I’m glad to see they took my advice (ahem!) in having her train with Alex and Hank. She is also becoming fairly adept at balancing superheroics with civilian life. However, I still think she would/should be grossly outmatched by the Kryptonian soldiers and some of the other escapees. Of course, we can’t have our heroine get her butt kicked (or worse) every week. At least she is working more with others, be it James/Winn or Alex/Hank/DEO — not quite the camaraderie of Team-Flash or Team-Arrow, but not bad. (Very different circumstances, too.) We also now know a little about Kara’s family on Krypton, why Kara didn’t exercise her powers much while growing up on Earth, what happened to her adopted father (sort of), and a few other bits about her family and youth.

I still can’t think of Mehcad Brooks as “Jimmy Olsen”. But, I do like the “James” character. He and Kara have become close friends, and I think one day they could make a pretty cute couple. However,… various issues have kept that from happening — from the presence of Lucy Lane to Kara’s shyness and conflicting duties. I kind of hope that Season 2 has them working through the tension of working together, eventually coming to acceptance and moving forward as friends.

I hope the same for her “best friend”, Winn Schott. Winn is a likable character and always good for a humorous scene. He continues to be unlucky in love (as are many of us “IT guys”). But, he is growing, too, learning and dealing with family issues and romantic frustrations. I hope they continue to find ways to develop this character, so that he remains likable, real, and not two-dimensional.

(Most of the) Supergirl cast

(Most of the) Supergirl cast

What about Cat? If you recall, I had some harsh things to say about her. But, I have to admit, while her professional persona grates on me, she is beginning to grow on me. Or, at least, I am beginning to understand her a little better, even if I often disagree with her approach (not to mention her politics). We have also observed a maternal side of her, both with her sons and with Kara/Supergirl, that is encouraging to see. I suspect we may see a little less of her in Season 2 (since Calista Flockhart is highly paid, and they need to cut costs). But, I hope she will continue to surprise both Kara and me. (Btw, I wonder if she really knows Kara’s secret identity….)

In my earlier review comments about Alex, I said, “Sometimes she annoys me, and sometimes not. I probably need to cut her some slack….” I like her a lot better, now, thanks to some good character development and back-history — e.g., as much as Alex loves her adopted sister, there was some latent resentment; also, the bit about her father’s death(?) and her motivations for becoming a DEO agent, etc. Despite some disagreements, she and Kara have become closer; similarly, she and Hank are now closer, personally and professionally.

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!

Hank Henshaw is very different from the comics version. That said, this one is a good guy, and I like him. They smoothed out a few rough edges on this character, explained his reservations about Supergirl, revealed some of his past and his big secret, which is all good. I like that he revealed his true form to Alex and Kara. He really needed someone to understand him and share his burden, and they also stood up for him when his secret was revealed to the DEO and military. Now, if only we could see him use the rest of his powers (e.g., invisibility, morphing, phasing, heat vision, etc.), or explain why he doesn’t have them. They probably decided that a full-strength J’onn J’onzz is too powerful and would overshadow Supergirl. But, I’d like to see the range and level of the TV version’s abilities defined better.

I do think that the military has been depicted via harsh stereotype; on the other hand, I suspect those types do exist and would indeed react that way. So, I guess I am of two minds on this….

It has been fun to see familiar faces show up in supporting and guest roles — e.g., Chris Vance as Non, Glenn Morshower as Gen. Sam Lane, Owain Yeoman as Vartox, Dean Cain & Helen Slater as Jeremiah & Eliza Danvers, Laura Vandervoort as Indigo, Henry Czerny as Toyman, etc. It was cool to see characters like Red Tornado, Maxima, Cameron Chase, and James Harper make appearances, too. Since our heroes are heading to CADMUS in Season 2, I hope we eventually see Harper (and/or his clone) become Guardian.

The various villains and associated F/X haven’t been too bad. Not perfect but pretty good, actually, especially for a TV show. Fight scenes and wire-work could still use some improvement, though. At times, it felt like villain-of-the-week. But, there were plot threads that crossed several episodes (i.e., Maxwell Lord’s scheming and the Kryptonians’ domination plans), along with the aforementioned character development, which helped with the continuity factor. Sometimes, it bugged me that they “stole” a Superman villain and/or the way that they tweaked him/her for TV, but I’m learning to just go with the flow. The plots have been somewhat comic bookish (duh!) but not too over the top. (Not that I recall, anyway.)

5134986-cw-crossover-174888Finally, I think the generally more cheerful & positive tone (while not glossing over the very serious aspects), which directly reflects the persona of the central character, is a nice balance to the darker feel of “Arrow”, et al. Speaking of which, now that “Supergirl” is on the CW, rumor has it there will be more crossovers with the other shows. Sounds good to me!

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