TV This Week: ‘Supergirl’; ‘Wicked City’; ‘Grimm’; ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’; ‘The …

24 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Supergirl’ has playfulness and action.

“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. “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.

After 12 years of keeping her powers a secret on Earth, Kara Zor-El, (Melissa Benoist) Superman’s cousin, decides to finally embrace her superhuman abilities and be the hero she was always meant to be, on the series premiere of CBS’ “Supergirl” premiering at 8:30 p.m.The younger hero, a Krypton native who resisted her superpowers growing up, embraces them as a 24-year-old who protects her earthly home, National City, from an intergalactic criminal onslaught in CBS’ Supergirl (Monday, 8:30 p.m.

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. 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. 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.

All that, however, belies the main issue: Can such fare fly on CBS? “The Flash,” of course, has been a major hit by CW’s less-demanding standards, which perhaps emboldened its older half-sibling to take a flyer (heh heh) on its own bold comics-to-TV leap. The series moves to its regular time period, 8-9 p.m., on Monday, Nov. 2. (Darren Michaels/CBS) CLEVELAND, Ohio – CBS is suffering from a severe case of superhero envy. She’s just happy to use her powers at all,” says Melissa Benoist, who plays TV’s newest superhero and her alter ego, Kara Danvers, a mild-mannered assistant for a great, metropolitan multimedia empire. “I like to think of this season as a crash course in how to be a superhero,” she says. “It’s about someone learning and understanding who they are and how to harness their strength and use it to be the best possible person they can be.” “Every time I’m flying, I’m having a blast,” Benoist says on set, clad in her Colleen Atwood-designed outfit, complete with knee-high boots, short skirt and leather cape, all in red, contrasted by a textured blue jersey sporting the iconic red “S.” The fun of entering the DC Comics canon can’t be underestimated, says Chyler Leigh (Grey’s Anatomy), who plays Alex Danvers, Kara/Supergirl’s adoptive sister and a top scientist and operative at a secret agency. “Everybody’s inner nerd loves the comics and that whole life,” says Leigh, decked out in an all-black agency ensemble complete with a utility belt that might make Batman envious. 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.

Executive producer Greg Berlanti, who has had success overseeing CW’s DC Comics-inspired Arrow and The Flash, sees a connection between Benoist and Christopher Reeve, who played Superman in Richard Donner’s 1978 film. “Melissa’s very optimistic and hopeful, qualities you see in Kara,” he says. “She exhibits what I think (Reeve) did in terms of that affability and familiarity. 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. 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. And while some of the pilot’s accessories seem designed to address those concerns – most notably Calista Flockhart as the central character’s imperious media-mogul boss, Cat Grant, giving the show a “Devil Wears Prada” vibe – ultimately, the network is hoping there’s a wider audience, relatively speaking, than tuned in for its version of “The Flash” a quarter century ago.

Even her domineering boss, the media mogul Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart), criticizes her meek-mannered nature at the office. “If you can’t take credit when you do something well,” Cat says, “you’re going to be at the bottom of the pile forever.” Fortunately, in her second job, Kara can fly. 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).

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. 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. 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.

But superheroes have been in short supply at CBS since the 1970s and the glory days of Lynda Carter’s “Wonder Woman” and Bill Bixby’s “The Incredible Hulk.” This has left CBS programmers green with envy — green as deadly kryptonite, green as the Arrow’s costume, green as the Joker’s hair. And the workplace comedy component is different, too. “The fact that we’re able to do a little bit of that screwball comedy (Superman was) able to do so successfully makes it a little different.” In a field long dominated by men, Supergirl provides a superhero role model for girls and young women, but she symbolizes values anyone could admire, Benoist says. 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. 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.

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. 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”). 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. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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.

Good casting (including Mehcad Brooks as Superman’s pal Jimmy Olsen – now hunky, African-American, and going by the grown-up moniker James) and Benoist’s deft handling of her dual role create hope for the show going forward. Like Clark Kent, though, Kara still has a day job to hold down, and colleagues to guard her secret from, including Jimmy — sorry, James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), recently hired from The Daily Planet. “Supergirl” comes amid a mini-renaissance of TV superheroines — ABC’s “Agent Carter,” Netflix’s coming “Jessica Jones” — but Hollywood’s spotty record still looms. 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. 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. 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. There’s nothing genuinely super about “Supergirl,” which fields an uneven series opener that’s a ragged mix of fun possibilities and annoying drawbacks. 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. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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. It all leads to a new direction, a new costume, the inevitable showdown with a supervillain and the revelation of a must-have evil genius determined to destroy Supergirl.

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