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Supergirl - Pilot - Review: "Supergirl has an uneven take off"

27 Oct 2015

Supergirl can be an amazing show. The problem with its pilot is that I don’t know where the series is headed: it is all over the place and it is hard to make sense of what the show is trying to do. It is telling the story of Kara Danvers in way too many settings and they don’t fully come together by the pilot. However, the show does make some pretty good promises for its future.

This is one of the very few superhero shows I’ve been where the character is truly enjoying the fact that they are superpowered. Sure, Barry Allen can be gleeful about his speed on The Flash, but it quite never gets to the joyful spirit of Kara Danver, which Melissa Benoist does justice: Kara is a character that smiles, she is hopeful and fun, and Melissa is able to gather enough charisma to make me feel very optimistic about the show.

What I like most about the pilot is how it is a story about a woman becoming comfortable with who she is, accepting her own potential and realizing that she has the power to be what she wants to be. As she said “I embraced it and it was incredible!”.
I like those kinds of story, and the upbeat energy of Supergirl does nothing but heighten the feeling of enjoyment while seeing Kara embracing the superhero mantle, following on her cousin’s footstep while also being her own persona.

That story at the core of the show is great, and it offers a peace and light hearted enjoyment during the hour. All that would be great if the pilot wasn’t overflowing with flaws that makes Supergirl’s take off shaky.

One of my main complaints about the show right now is the supporting character: they don’t have the charisma of Melissa Benoist and as of right now they are mere broad strokes. The bitch boss, the work acquaintance with a crush, the stoic sister / secret agent and a newly arrived guy who knows her secret and pushes Kara towards her call to action. All of their interactions feel forced at best.

The most worrisome character dynamic is Kara and her sister Alex: it simply doesn’t click, even as we get near the earnest moment in which Alex admits that she has been pushing Kara down because of her inferiority complex, it doesn't really feel earnest. They are supposed to have a good relationship, but there is no chemistry there, and I can’t tell if it’s lack of script force, acting issues or maybe both. The show will most likely lean heavily with this relationship since family is usually key on superhero shows.

The workplace environment of the show doesn’t do the pilot any favors with the obnoxious boss; she is not funny, she doesn’t add up anything to the show and she is just there to annoy for the sake of annoyance. She is the character with the biggest need of a good storyline, or even more urgent, she needs a reason to actually be on the show.

Forced relationships is Supergirl’s potential downfall. Kara as a character is well thought out and it tells that both the crew and Melissa did an amazing job crafting her personality, her quirks and overall her arc through the pilot. However, everyone is lacking.

The co-worker Winn is lacking the fun spark the show is trying to pin on him. His lesbian confusion is played out in a way that is not really as fun as it must have been on the writer's head, and his enthusiasm over working with a superhero is not as earnest and organic as the one we see from Cisco on “The Flash”.

Other execution problems with the pilot has to do with the action: the stunt coordination is just not there yet, it is miles away from better executed shows such as Arrow, Agent Carter and Daredevil. It’s not bad, and comparisons are unfair since the show is just starting, but they are inevitable, especially when Arrow is delivering amazing action on a network with a much lower budget than Supergirl.

The special effects are good, but could be better. The photography is spot on capturing the upbeat energy of the show, so visually the show works aside from some special effects kinks and a stunt coordination to be improved, Supergirl looks great.

The lingering storylines surrounding Kara’s mother moving the strings behind the alien attacks and the secret D.E.O organization where Alex is working for have potential for very entertaining storylines to come. But as of right now, Supergirl is all about potential that has yet to be exploded. As of right now Supergirl lives and die on Melissa’s spot on performance as Kara and the charisma the character has. That’s enough for now, but the show needs to work on its flaws later on.

As of right now I’m really excited about what the show can be, there is more than enough stuff to like, but I’m also wary about how the cast and crew will follow up from here. Gregg Berlantini has developed both “Arrow” and “The Flash”, which have proved that the superhero genre can be successful. Now he has to prove that Supergirl can live up to that promise as well.

Grade: C+

Stray Observations:

-Welcome to the Supergirl weekly reviews! Even though I have my reservations with the pilot I pretty much expect the show to rally from here and take off to be a very good, entertaining show.

-This Superman cameo we got at the beginning is most likely all the Superman we are going to get through the entire series.

-“How is the world supposed to take you seriously when you can’t even come up with a suit?”

-“See that? A female hero. Nice that my daughter have someone to look up to.” That throwaway line represents the need of more superheroines on TV.

-Kara: “Where is my cape?”
Winn: “Capes are lame! Tell your cousin I said so. Actually no, don’t do that.”

-How many of you believe Hank will turn out evil? I bet plenty.

-Maybe it's because I'm used to hearing "Supergirl", but "Superwoman" just doesn't sound as mellow.

-I didn't talk much about Jimmy Olsen: he is going to be a key character and he has the great "up, up and away" reference, but I felt that his portrayal in the pilot really didn't make him much justice, possibly because he didn't have much screen time. Hopefully, this will change soon enough.

About the Author - Pablo
I'm currently studying Psychology while also writing fantasy books (one already published in my home country, Chile, you can check it out on the facebook icon). I watch many different types of shows, including my favorites Revenge, Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time and about 23 more. Currently writing reviews for Once Upon a Time, The 100 and Supergirl
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