‘Supergirl’ has Melissa Benoist’s career set to go up, up and away

25 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Supergirl’ breaks superhero adaptation glass ceiling.

“The second that I saw in my email inbox the title ‘Supergirl,’ I knew it was something important, and it was something exciting and rare that I wanted to be a part of.” Before the show has even premiered, Supergirl has become part of the zeitgeist: GOP hopeful Jeb Bush said last week that he thinks “she’s pretty hot” and plans to watch the program. After 12 years of keeping her powers a secret on Earth, Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin, decides to finally embrace her superhuman abilities in “Supergirl.” As an adult, Kara (Melissa Benoist) works as the personal assistant (read: servant) to brittle media mogul Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart), but her days of keeping her talents a secret are over when Hank Henshaw (David Harewood), head of a super-secret agency, enlists her to protect the citizens of National City. “Supergirl” is the latest series from Greg Berlanti, who also brought “Arrow” and “The Flash” to the CW.”The Simpsons”: It’s late October, so you know what it’s time for…”Treehouse of Horror!” This one is XXVI, and finds Sideshow Bob Terwilliger in a deadly mood.The one-hour superhero show premiering on CBS Monday at 8:30 p.m. (it moves into its regular Monday 9 p.m. time slot next week) adapts the popular DC Comics character with some “Frozen” style tweaks to her origin, Easter eggs galore for longtime comics readers, loving nods to the great Christopher Reeve “Superman” films and astounding visual effects.

And since superheroes aren’t exactly hard to find these days, creator Greg Berlanti – who also handles “The Flash” and “Arrow” over at the CW – designed Benoist’s Supergirl to take a different flight path from her predecessors. “I didn’t read the comic as a kid,” she says. “But I’ve immersed myself in the mythology now, so I know she’s a very different character than she is in the comic. Good casting and Benoist’s deft handling of her role create hope for the show going forward. “Supergirl” is a very good, polished pilot, which, in TV terms, might be one of the least interesting questions hovering around this latest DC Comics adaptation from producers Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg. Monday (right after ratings-ginormous “The Big Bang Theory”), is attempting to do what no series with a female comic book character lead has done since, well, “Wonder Woman” in the 1970s: become a success. “Glee” alum Melissa Benoist plays Kara, a cousin of Kal El, aka Superman, aka Clark Kent, who has a demanding media mogul boss (Calista Flockhart), an adopted sister (Chyler Leigh), and a handsome work pal, James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks). Fox/12) “Dancing with the Stars”: It’s the Halloween episode, but will Oregon’s Alek Skarlatos get a trick or a treat at the end, when another celebrity is sent home? (8 p.m. The introductory hour hews closely to that pair’s formula for “The Flash,” from elevating an adorable “Glee” alum (there Grant Gustin, here Melissa Benoist) to costumed-icon status, to the it-takes-a-village approach to raising a superhero, with plenty of people in on the character’s secret virtually from the get-go.

Kara sleeps frozen in suspended animation for more than 20 years, until her ship finally reaches Earth — where she is greeted by a grown Kal, now Superman. What makes this more than just another superhero show is how smartly the pilot explores Kara’s decision to ditch her low-profile, powers-under-a-bushel approach, and embrace her true, heroic self. Never mind that the Marvel name hasn’t produced major ratings for ABC’s “Agents of SHIELD,” although the brooding “Gotham” did emerge as a solid contender on Fox. Her mission derailed, young Kara is taken in by foster parents the Danvers — played in cameos by original “Supergirl” star Helen Slater and “Lois & Clark’s” Superman Dean Cain — and their daughter Alex.

Cut to the present, where a spectacled Kara (Melissa Benoist, “Glee”) works in National City (a shoutout to DC Comics’ earlier incarnation) for media tycoon Cat Grant (a hilariously campy Calista Flockhart, “Ally McBeal,” channeling “The Devil Wears Prada” boss-from-hell Miranda Priestly). The supporting cast is strong, too, and includes Jeremy Jordan (“Smash”), Mehcad Brooks (“True Blood”), Chyler Leigh (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and best of all, a witty Calista Flockhart as Kara’s “Devil Wears Prada”-style boss. (8:30 p.m. Being browbeaten on a regular basis is not fulfilling for Kara, who dreams of doing something meaningful with her powers, like her cousin in Metropolis. On the plus side, Benoist nails the title role – a name, incidentally, that is quickly explained away, seeking to deflect any charges of sexism about the “girl” designation.

And, naturally, to fight, because some very bad guys can’t believe a mere girl could stop their nefarious schemes and thus instigate extended hand-to-hand battles. In a rapid-fire origin story, it’s explained that Kara was the older cousin of Kal-El/Superman, who exists (mostly for legal/DC continuity reasons) in an unseen part of this show’s world. It’s a superhero story whose motto could be “Up, up and lean in!” Like her supercousin (whom we see in brief glimpses) Kara is express-mailed as a child from an about-to-explode Krypton. Costume designer Colleen Atwood did a “great” job there, Benoist says, losing the glossy bright red and blue of the comic for more muted colors that let a girl move. PBS/10) “Wicked City”: Ed Westwick (“Gossip Girl”) and Erika Christensen star as a killer couple in this ’80s-set drama, which takes place in and around Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip.

On her way to Earth, however, Kara got sidetracked and spent 24 years in the Phantom Zone, which explains why she’s younger than her better-known relative. Emboldened by her first act, Kara disregards Alex’s warnings and dons — after a fashion faux pas or two — the familiar red-and-blue suit, thanks to her office BFF Winn (Jeremy Jordan, “Smash”). But she draws the fire — literally — of both a shadowy organization trying to control metahumans and an ex-Phantom Zone criminal named Vartox, who wields an atomic ax. “Supergirl’s” dazzling special effects are matched by its heartfelt sisterly bonds.

Put in care of a human family, she grows up and moves to National City (like Metropolis, but with palm trees) with her foster sister Alex (Chyler Leigh), who encourages her to keep a low profile. ABC/2) “Nature”: In the second part of “Pets: Wild at Heart,” we take a closer look at “Secretive Creatures,” and how pets’ sense of smell and other abilities help them function. (8 p.m. Naturally, events force Kara to show off what she can do, and she does so spectacularly, in a plane rescue that vaguely echoes the original Christopher Reeve “Superman.” As in that movie, there’s a sense of exultation in the early scenes in which Kara explores her powers, after spending so many years trying to blend in and be “normal.” Taking a page from “The Flash” and “Smallville” before it, the series also seeks to establish via Kara’s origin tale both a deeper mythology and an excuse for Earth to be populated by various super-beings, giving her someone to pick on, as it were, who’s at least close to her size, power-wise. But when Kara finds herself the only one able to stop a passenger jet from crashing, she accepts her powers and discovers that she likes the family business. PBS/10) “Bones”: In the first chapter of a “Bones”/”Sleepy Hollow” crossover, Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills turn up to help Brennan and Booth investigate the case of a body without a head. (8 p.m.

Between that and establishing her network of friends, that’s a whole lot of business to cram into an hour, raising the age-old question of how the series will fare on an episodic basis, once it lacks the kind of budget that would make most independent films the color of Kryptonite with envy. Fox/12) “Gold Rush”: Oregon’s Todd Hoffman and his crew, Parker Schnabel, and Tony Beets continue the quest for the stuff that dreams are made of, er, um, that is, gold. (9 p.m. A recent attempt to reboot “Wonder Woman” for TV fizzled, and tent-pole movies have tended to marginalize what few superheroines they have. (Last season, “Saturday Night Live” scathingly imagined Marvel casting Black Widow of “The Avengers” in a sappy rom-com.) Kara’s unveiling in “Supergirl” plays as a meta-comment on these potential pitfalls. Discovery) “Grimm”: Season 5 debuts with Nick (David Giuntoli) in an agitated state (who wouldn’t be after the Season 4 finale), Adalind (Claire Coffee) about to give birth, and more menace lurking in the shadows of Portland. (9 p.m.

So does the manner in which the producers and Warner Bros. have generally sustained the level of special effects and action on “The Flash.” Once again, there are also nice homages to the past, such as Dean Cain and Helen Slater as Kara’s adoptive parents. Introducing Superman’s pal James — don’t call him Jimmy — Olsen (Mehcad Brooks, “True Blood”) as a sexy love interest is a savvy, unexpected move.

That said, this is still a considerable gamble for all concerned, and an enthusiastic response from comic geeks alone won’t be enough to propel “Supergirl” into the sort of orbit CBS will need – even in an age of diminished expectations – to justify this dice roll. (In a shrewd move, the network is leveraging its most popular geeks, “The Big Bang Theory,” to help its fellow Warner Bros. And she’s chagrined with the diminutive name that Cat uses to christen National City’s new saviour in the media. “I’m a girl,” Cat shoots back. “And your boss and powerful and rich and hot and smart.

So if you perceive ‘Supergirl’ as anything less than excellent, isn’t the real problem you?” The defensiveness is blatant, but it’s a genius provocation to give the argument to Flockhart, who on “Ally McBeal” in the ’90s weathered criticism that her lawyer character — with her miniskirts and visions of dancing babies — was a bad feminist. Thanks to those strengths, if the producers can sustain the playfulness and action without going overboard on Flockhart’s character, there’s reason to believe this “girl” can fly.

Judging from the first episode, the “girl” in “Supergirl” doesn’t diminish the character so much as define the story, a coming-of-age tale of someone embracing her nature, which happens to involve a cape and heat vision. Benoist gives her character’s coming out an infectious joy reminiscent of a recent Netflix comedy: She’s Unbreakable Kara Zor-El. “Supergirl” is an average action show thus far, but its star is engaging. Kara’s first mission, saving the burning jet about to crash, is the pilot’s visual showpiece, but the most striking image is the glimpse you get of Benoist’s face as she hangs upside down bringing the plane to safety. — RR Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) and Olivia (Kerry Washington) are presented with a plan that might just make all of their troubles go away, and Mellie (Bellamy Young) is put through the ringer when confronted about her troubled marriage.

Co-hosts Michael Strahan (left, as Lando Calrissian of the “Star Wars” franchise) and Kelly Ripa (as Princess Leia) are going all out for Halloween, dressing up as characters from the hit show “Empire” and the film “Magic Mike XXL.” With Strahan’s penchant for drag (remember the year he came as Oprah?), we can only assume he’s going to wear one of Cookie’s animal- print outfits. Superheroes are all about helping others, of course; as James says of Supergirl and her kind, “Saving people is what they’re born to do.” But we’ve seen that a million times. The FBI trainees leave campus for the first time while on an undercover assignment, and Alex (Priyanka Chopra) and Ryan (Jake McLaughlin) become closer. Detectives Jack Roth (Jeremy Sisto) and new partner Paco Contreras (Gabriel Luna) are assigned to track down a killer who preys on women seeking fame in LA. Their perp, unbeknownst to them, is Kent Grainger (Ed Westwick), a twisted soul who craves attention and goes on a murderous rampage to obtain notoriety.

Jack and Paco catch a break when they stumble upon Karen McClaren (Taissa Farmiga), a journalist who may have met the killer at a club and could ID him. Meanwhile, Kent meets a young woman who may be his ideal accomplice — Betty Beaumontaine (Erika Christensen), a nurse and single mother of two with a bit of a sadistic bent. We kick off with Helen (Maura Tierney), who gets high and drunk and goes to pick up her kids from a play-date at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, having run straight from the beauty salon with foil papers in her hair.

This campy show screens popular films as host Michael Urie and a panel of Hollywood experts dish behind-the-scenes gossip during commercial breaks. “Cocktails & Classics” kicks off its second season with a Halloween-appropriate viewing of 1987’s “The Witches of Eastwick,” based on the John Updike best seller. Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer star as three lonely, vodka-swilling singletons who discover a hidden talent for witchcraft when a devilishly seductive man (Jack Nicholson) arrives in their small town.

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