Supergirl: Pilot Review

The world is desperately short of television series and movies about superheroes, so thank heavens that someone’s stepping into the void and providing us with such an interesting comic book hero, one that’s completely original and in no way a second rate knock off of a more famous superhero (who is actually not that interesting a character either when you really get down to it).

Yes, I’m being sarcastic, but while I love a good superhero yarn, the media landscape is really becoming oversaturated with caped crusaders at the moment and to bring something to the genre is becoming increasingly challenging. Now admittedly there is a gigantic hole in the genre that Supergirl fills, ie she’s a girl. Yes, in all the Marvel and DC comic universes on screens at the moment, there is no headlining female superhero. The closest you’ll get is Peggy Carter (who is not technically a superhero) and Black Widow in the Marvel Universe (who has appeared in three films, but never as the headline) . It’s 2015 people, I mean for pities sake get on with it.

So, finally a female superhero, but why did it have to be such a dreary one? The first problem I have with this series is that I’ve never actually thought Superman was an interesting character. He basically has all the superpowers – he’s invulnerable, he can fly, he has super-strength, some sort of laser beam eye thing, x-ray vision and super hearing. The only perils are glowing green rocks, whether he can keep his identity secret and if he’ll get the girl. It’s always been a bit of a struggle for me to care.

Supergirl has all the same powers and at first I thought it was going to be a re-hash of Smallville (which I’ll admit I’ve never seen) and it would be her learning to use her powers. But she basically picks all that up instantly. So we’re once again left with the ‘challenge’ being concealing her identity (again behind glasses, but why was she wearing glasses BEFORE she had an identity to conceal) and presumably there’ll be a fair amount of pining love triangle stuff (she instantly falls for Metropolis ex-pat Jimmy Olsen, while her best friend, confident and apparent wardrobe master is incredibly un-subtly pining for her).

The tone of the whole thing is light and insubstantial. There are some big speeches (and a somewhat grating narration) but mostly it’s far more New Adventures of Superman than it is Dark Knight rises. Calista Flockhart is gloriously hammy as a Devil Wears Prada version of Perry White and sets the tone firmly in the cheese zone. The supporting cast is al round pretty strong, but the unknown Melissa Benoist as Supergirl felt a little outclassed. She does a good job with the comedy and I guess her character is supposed to be a bit flakey, uncertain and lost, which she delivers very well, but she didn’t really sell me on the depth of the character. Without having that central strength to hang everything off, it felt like she was being a bit swamped by the characters around her.

I wasn’t blown away by this. I still don’t really understand what it’s doing on CBS alongside stuff like NCIS and Criminal Minds. It would make much more sense next to Flash or Arrow on The CW where it’s slightly cheesy, teen/twenty-something focus would be a lot more at home. Fundamentally for m, there just wasn’t anything about the show that really made me want to tune in, there are superhero shows ahead of it in the “should probably watch” line (including the aforementioned Arrow and Flash) which seem a lot more comfortable in their capes than this one did.

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