What to expect from “Supergirl” on CBS

26 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Putting ‘girl power’ in ‘Supergirl’.

Bright, bouncy and very, very Comic-Con, “Supergirl” seems at first glance a huge departure for CBS, which generally prefers the tensely roiling tones of police and law procedural. “Hawaii Five-O” is about as bright and bouncy as a CBS drama gets.

When Supergirl finally takes flight Monday night, its heroine Kara Zor-El will have already endured months of derision for everything from GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush’s boneheaded “she’s pretty hot” comment to her show’s early resemblance to a girly girl-parodying SNL skit.That’s pretty much everything you need to know about “Supergirl,” a standard-issue comic-book story with a brilliant piece of casting at its center. The sight of a Kryptonian bustling through crowded streets carrying coffee for her Miranda Priestly-lite boss, apologizing frantically to grumpy Earthlings for bumping into them, was a sign of clichéd inferiority, we were told. (Though, it’s worth noting, no one leveled this claim at Barry Allen in CW’s The Flash, who is introduced as an adult onscreen in almost the exact same way.) But Supergirl, to its infinite credit, never shies away from its charming, bubbly protagonist’s hyper-femininity, even in a culture that still, somehow, perceives girlish women as intellectually inferior and frequently condescends to and underestimates them.

— On Friday in Tuned In I wrote about CBS’s “Supergirl” (8:30 tonight, KDKA-TV), which begins with a strong pilot episode that introduces an optimistic title character and plays up “girl power” bonafides as it addresses the fact that’s she’s Supergirl (Melissa Benoist, above) and not Superwoman in a speech by Kara’s boss, Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart). “Sometimes there’ a temptation there by executives to alter things that I think is part of the DNA of what was so great about the comic book,” Berlanti said in a teleconference with reporters last week. “We wanted to be protective of the name of the show and have a conversation with out characters that we believe the audience would be having as well. It’s the first cinematic narrative, on flat screen and in theaters, to revolve around a female super-hero since “Wonder Woman.” Which debuted in 1975. Kara Danvers is a shy, bumbling romantic-comedy lead, while Supergirl is brave and full of resolve; Benoist makes them seem like natural parts of one whole person, a rare feat in the superhero-acting business. She’s an adult woman, why isn’t this called ‘Superwoman’?” “One of the things I love about this show is it’s a real celebration of girl power,” Flockhart said at an August press conference. “ And I was really attracted to this show because I think it’s a great show for moms and daughters to watch together.

Shouldn’t she be called Superwoman? … If we call her Supergirl, something less than what she is, doesn’t that make us guilty of being anti-feminist?” Cat, sporting stilettos, a form-fitting dress and a killer blowout, answers, “What do you think is so bad about ‘girl?’ I’m a girl. With shows like “The Good Wife,” “Madam Secretary,” “CSI: Cyber” and even, bless its heart, “Code Black,” CBS has been quietly cultivating an army of super-females (albeit still in an exclusively Caucasian palette). Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (8 p.m., CW) – Despite a childhood fear of hosting parties and a lack of social connections in West Covina, Rebecca plans a housewarming party.

She’s like, ‘I’m a girl and I’m awesome, and I’m not going to apologize for that,’ and I love that about the character.” Executive producer Ali Adler said the relationship between Kara and Cat will be a key component in the story as will a friendship that develops between Kara and Lucy Lane (Jenna Dewan Tatum). “As long as Kara and Supergirl are enjoying themselves and finding the joy in geing a hero, the joy in using her powers finally after so long, everything stems from that,” she said earlier this week. “I just always keep in mind her bravery and hope and positivity and strength and I think that will be hard for girls to not look up to that.” Taken that way, “Supergirl” is a natural fit, not just for a new generation of millennial feminists and their younger siblings (many of whom attend Comic-Con) but for CBS — let Tea Leoni’s Bess McCord save lives through diplomacy and Patricia Arquette’s Avery Ryan through super-hacking. I’ll Have What Phil’s Having (10 p.m., UNC-TV) – Phil travels to Barcelona, where he has a world-class breakfast of foie-gras and eggs, participates in a tapas crawl and visits a vermouth bar.

Our pop culture universe is dominated by two phenomena: superhero movies and TV shows, and female singers belting out bubblegum feminist self-esteem anthems. So if you perceive Supergirl as anything less than excellent, isn’t the real problem you?” The dialogue is almost painfully on the nose, but then again, it needs to be. Calista Flockhart does offer a bit of sharp comic relief as Cat Grant, Kara’s boss, but everything else is forgettable: rote supervillains, the obligatory secret government agency and a set of superpowers for Kara that conveniently are just enough to solve every problem. “How to Dance in Ohio,” 9 p.m.

Putting a woman in a cape on TV for the first time in 13 years is an inherently political act—even long after news of yet another supermale-driven movie or TV show has become old hat. Going a step further and asserting that said woman-in-a-cape can fly in bright, sunny skies with a smile on her face (a superhero actually enjoying her gifts?!), wear cute skirts to work, and go on dates—all while wielding enough power to shoot heat rays from her eyes and stop a speeding big rig with a single punch? Even those suffering from mild-to-severe super-hero fatigue will be instantly charmed by Benoist’s initially uncertain Kara Zor-El and the slick and witty world Greg Berlanti has created for her.

Kara (played by Melissa Benoist) is no longer content to be thought of as “his cousin”. (Superman is only ever referred to as “him” or “my cousin”; the sole glimpse we get of him are a pair of red boots shooting into the sky). Executive produced by Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash), Andrew Kreisberg, and Ali Adler, picks up with 13-year-old Kara the moment she blasts off the planet Krypton to look after her baby cousin Kal-El on Earth.

A&E The trend of live stunts takes a turn toward the gimmicky with this special, which feels like an awful lot like a live edition of “Fear Factor.” Three people agree to be sealed in coffins and buried underground, with cameras monitoring their reactions. Her mother, a scientist named Alura (Laura Benanti), bids her a tearful goodbye and perishes, but her memory looms large over the rest of the episode. Depending on your provider, you may be able to catch this genuinely live at 5 p.m.; otherwise it will be taped for the West Coast, but presumably not edited. Kara’s ship, you see, was derailed from its Earth-bound course by a shock wave from her exploding planet, which landed her in an area of the galaxy called the Phantom Zone, where time doesn’t pass. She spends 24 years there before being miraculously dislodged and sent back on her way to Earth—along with a floating space prison full of the galaxy’s deadliest criminals.

Unwittingly mirroring her famous cousin, Kara doesn’t just disguise her superpowers, she hides her beauty and intelligence — messy bun, unflattering clothes, bumbling manner, bad glasses. Back on Earth, we’re introduced to Kara’s adoptive family, the Danvers, her co-worker/confidante Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan), and the new, impossibly handsome Jimmy Olsen—er, sorry, James Olson (Mehcad Brooks), Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and Metropolis-to-National City transplant.

Amnesia having already been claimed by “Blindspot,” Kara’s extreme self-effacement may have seemed necessary to explain why Supergirl isn’t already flying about saving the world, but it’s an irritating distraction in the pilot. This insecurity seems intended to make Kara even more adorable (impossible!) but also to serve as a metaphor for any woman who chooses to limit herself through self-doubt and fear. We watch her choose a costume with the help of Winn who, naturally, has a hopeless crush on Kara. (In one of the episode’s most pointed and funny moments, Kara tries coming out to Winn as a superbeing, only to have him interrupt her and scream, “Oh my god, you’re a lesbian! On the one hand, you have Flockhart delivering a dead-on defense of the word “girl,” on the other you have a young woman with superpowers who apparently has never seen an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Fortunately, Kara has a confident sister named Alex (“Grey’s Anatomy” alum Chyler Leigh, graduating to big sis) who is also not what she seems, and not much time is wasted wondering if maybe she should give flying a chance. There’s plenty for those who loathe liberties being taken with their favourite made-up characters to bemoan, principally cool, black, hunky reporter James “Don’t call me Jimmy” Olsen.

Where’s my cape?”) in favor of long sleeves and a miniskirt—a more sensible ensemble representative of Kara’s personality and Supergirl’s history. As the hour rolls out, a bevy of intergalactic bad guys appears — no mundane human crimes for Supergirl! — and soon Kara’s only dilemma is cape or no cape. (Edna Mode of “The Incredibles,” we miss you so.) What with the whole “Overcome Your Fears” storyline, the pilot of “Supergirl” can be forgiven for producing a fairly lame first villain, though one hopes it will not happen again.

Villains make or break a super-hero tale, and we have come to expect conflicts that are fraught, clever and between equals; an evil general lurking in the shadows seems promising. Meanwhile, it is easy to delight in Benoist’s infectious enthusiasm and the show’s A-list accouterment: Flockhart’s hilarious performance, the new version of Jimmy Olsen (played by Mehcad Brooks and going by James), the obligatory but still enjoyable evolution of the costume and the possibility that Supergirl was actually sent to Earth to save newspapers (“What the Tribune needs is a hero,” Cat tells Kara, when Kara asks why the Tribune has to fold when the Daily Planet is going strong, causing at least one critic to weep in agreement). The pilot suffers from a number of other flaws—CBS ominously provided critics with only the pilot—involving sometimes-clunky dialogue, cheesy special effects (Kara’s heat vision so strongly resembles the possessed schoolboys in “Total Eclipse of the Heart” that I had to laugh), and an irritating reliance on Kara’s lack of self-confidence to raise the dramatic stakes.

Still, The Flash—the Berlantiverse show most similar to Supergirl in its hopeful, optimistic tone—managed to recover from like flaws and is now the most purely enjoyable supershow on TV. And, 40 years after Lynda Carter first took up the mantle of Wonder Woman—and one month before Marvel premieres its own first superheroine-led title, Jessica Jones—broadcast TV has been graced by the image of a 24-year-old woman, striding forward confidently as bullets bounce off her chest.

Here you can write a commentary on the recording "What to expect from “Supergirl” on CBS".

* Required fields
All the reviews are moderated.
Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

About this site