Monday, May 25, 2015

Pros & Cons of the 'Supergirl' Pilot

Just like what happened last year with the respective pilots of The Flash and Constantine, the pilot for the new DC TV series Supergirl was recently leaked online months before the season officially starts.  Here are my thoughts – labelled in Pros and Cons:

CON: It was completely the same as the trailer – and I disliked the trailer. 

When the trailer for The Flash pilot came out last year, I was underwhelmed – it didn’t compel me to watch it.  But I did.  And I was glad I did, because, though the plot of the pilot was basically summarized by the trailer already, the pilot itself turned out to be more awesome as I was expecting.  It won me over.  From then on, I was hooked.  And now, a full season later, The Flash has become my most favorite ongoing TV show.

I was hoping that it would be the same way with Supergirl.  Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be.  The trailer perfectly embodied the tone and direction of the pilot.  There’s too much The Devil Wears Prada vibes.  It’s littered with YA rom-com tropes, hence, there’s always this nagging feeling it’s targeting the demographic that avidly watches YA rom-com.  Ugh.

Hence, with all these things going against it, I was more sensitive in picking up unimaginative, bland, or dumb parts.  And there was an unforgivable amount of them.  There are flaws in The Flash as well, but I don’t care, since the flaws are outweighed by all the fun and excitement it generates.

PRO: Melissa Benoist as Supergirl. 

When the first image of Benoist’s Supergirl was released earlier this year, I felt that, at least, as far as appearance was concerned, the casting was perfect.  And it made me excited for the series.  After the pilot, I still think that she looked amazing for the part.

CON: Supergirl isn’t compelling half of the time.

Again, this might be The Devil Wears Prada vibes ruining the characterization of the character.  Everything feels annoyingly off.  To be fair, there is no real definitive characterization of Supergirl.  But, still, I don’t think that Supergirl is someone that struggles with her self-worth or considers the word “girl” demeaning that she’s bothered she has been christened “Supergirl.”  Yes, there are times that she struggles with things like finding her purpose or finding her place in the world or living up to the legacy of Superman, but she doesn’t mope – she gets mad.  She has lesser restraint and patience than Superman.  Heck, in the New 52 version, there’s much anger in her that she even became a Red Lantern.

PRO: Mehcad Brooks as Jimmy Olsen.

Supergirl’s version of Jimmy Olsen resonates with pleasant good-nature, optimism, and charm.  I easily find him likable from the first scene he appears.

He’s a unique version of “Superman’s pal.”  He’s black and non-geeky, and serves as Superman’s liaison to Supergirl (more about this later).  Also, if what some articles are saying is true, he is going to be Supergirl’s love interest.  I find that intriguing.

PRO: Superman exists in this universe.

Because it’s not going to make sense if he does not.  The character of Supergirl is always hinged on the mythos of Superman.  Of course, the show could have opted to take the whole Superman mythos and made it Supergirl’s own – like, there’s no Kal-El at all, and only Kara Zor-El was sent from Krypton to Earth.  That could work, but it will really be weird and confusing.

CON: But he probably won’t really appear in person.

Still, Warner Bros./DC won’t allow a live-action Superman to happen in TV that is more than a cameo.  Hence, this probably means that Supergirl’s Superman is going to be like the “Mother” in How I Met Your Mother? – just out there, but won’t make an actual appearance (until, maybe, at the latter seasons of the series).

Seriously, he sends Jimmy to talk to Kara in his behalf instead of talking to her personally?!  I find that so stupid.  And, sadly, more of this stupid kind of writing is sure to come to avoid putting Superman on the screen.

PRO: Jeremy Jordan as Winn Schott… maybe.

To be honest, I’m still neutral about him.  And it was kind of strange that Kara would quickly tell him her real identity just like that.  But Winn is supposed to be the obligatory IT/tech guy for this show (since every show these days has at least one such character), and the thing about this kind of stock character is that either you get to like them immediately (Arrow’s Felicity Smoak, Leverage’s Alec Hardison) or you initially found them unlikable but eventually liked them over time (The Flash’s Cisco Ramon).  So, yeah, there’s a good chance I’ll like this guy.

CON: Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant.

She has a big hand in giving the pilot The Devil Wears Prada vibe that I hated.

CON: David Harewood as Hank Henshaw… maybe.

The moment he opened his mouth, I know that this is a xenophobic A-hole I will hate all series long.  But there’s a chance this could be a good thing in the long run.  Sometimes, loathed characters became the kind “you love to hate”, which actually makes the character – especially villains – compelling.  Besides, if the show will take its cue from the comics, Hank Henshaw could eventually become Cyborg Superman – in my opinion, the greatest Superman villain next to Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and Doomsday – down the road.

CON: Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers

Alex Danvers feels like more of a plot device rather than an actual character.  It’s as if she only exists to help push the plot rather than being part of the plot.  She’s that generic character who has a close relationship with the main hero/heroine, and possesses some hidden, vague resentment/jealousy for the hero/heroine, and initially discourages the hero/heroine from being a hero/heroine because – you know – hidden, vague resentment/jealousy, but eventually supports and encourages the hero/heroine because love overcomes all.  Pfffft.

PRO: The “Danvers” surname

In the comics, the Matrix, a shape-shifting version of Supergirl (this was the first version of Supergirl I encountered; this was way back during the “Death of Superman” storyline) from an alternate reality, merged with a character named Linda Danvers to became a new, white-shirted version of Supergirl.  So will this version of Supergirl appear in the show?  Or is it just a loose reference?  Will other versions of Supergirl appear in this show?  Will Power Girl?!  Maybe I’m overthinking things, but more unexpected awesomeness have happened already in current super hero shows.

PRO: Potential for crossover with the The Flash/Arrow universe

Just look how adorable this is…
"On your mark, get set..."
But establishing that Supergirl exists in the same universe as The Flash and Arrow won’t make sense.  Again, Superman exists in the Supergirl universe, so if the Supergirl universe is the same as The Flash/Arrow universe, why was there no mention at all of him prior?  Thus, I don’t like this approach.

How can a crossover happen then?  Grant Gustin said in a recent interview that The Flash will be exploring the multi-verse in season 2.  So, yeah, let them use a cross-universe phenomenon to make that crossover happen.

PRO: Greg Berlanti is on the helm.

This is the same guy that has brought us The Flash and Arrow.  Hence, there’s a good chance that Supergirl will improve.  It was a subpar pilot, but it was only a pilot nonetheless.  The writing could get better; the characters could become more interesting eventually, and less boring or irritating.  I think Mr. Berlanti has earned enough goodwill for me to give this show at least half-a-season of a chance.  

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