Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pilot Review: Supergirl

Supergirl (CBS)
Premiered October 26 at 8:30pm

I feel like this was one of the first new fall shows I heard about way back in the spring, and it’s one of the last to premiere. I’m one of those many fans who watched “Smallville” for all ten seasons despite the fact that it never really got good again after season two, and though I’m enjoying “The Flash” a great deal right now, I’m still wary of committing to a superhero series if I’m not sure what the payoff will be. I’m pleased to say that I think this episode worked well, which is a particular compliment given a major hurdle presented by its premise. The entire origin story is tethered to how Kara is Superman’s cousin, and it would seem that the show will focus only on Supergirl and not have her more well-known relative appear at all. It doesn’t make much sense tha the would leave her completely in the dark, but that’s this show’s burden to try to make seem irrelevant. What does work very well is the cast, led by the wonderful Melissa Benoist, whose genuine excitement about getting to use her powers is the show’s best asset. Chyler Leigh makes a great sister slash secret agent, and I’m glad to see David Harewood, who was eternally grumpy on “Homeland,” get to play a similar part here but one that feels a lot more involved and energetic. Mehcad Brooks from “True Blood” is superb as James Olsen, a much more polished grown-up version of the kid photographer from the Superman universe who just happens to be looking out for Kara with the helpful knowledge of her secret identity. Calista Flockhart’s Cat Grant may be a bit more to take, but every superhero show practically demands a powerful curmudgeon to berate the alter ego while venerating the superhero. Having Kara targeted by the freed prisoners from the Phantom Zone is a cool concept, and I think it should work well. This show just needs to balance his hokeyness with its action and drama, and I think this opening hour managed to do that. I’m looking forward to more.

How will it work as a series? There are four people who know Kara’s identity – Alexandra, Hank, James, and Winn – and that should give her a few great sounding boards to help her become the hero she has always wanted to be. There will be danger and disappointment along the way, but it’s sure to be rewarding.
How long will it last? When I searched around to see how this show had performed, I did not expect to come across the headline that this pilot ranked as the most-watched new show of the fall in its debut airing. Moving to 8pm without “The Big Bang Theory” will be a more accurate test, but I think this is a strong enough start to guarantee this show a super life.

Pilot grade: B+

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