In a world full of “Geek Chic” and “Talk Nerdy to Me” t-shirts, it is not surprising that yet another comic book inspired television show has debuted on television this fall. What IS exciting about it is the fact that a female super hero has finally made its way to the small screen in a weekly series. With several Superman and Batman incarnations littering television, Supergirl provides an alternative superhero choice with a fresh origin story that also contains a nonthreatening familiarity. In the pilot episode, we meet Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist), who is aware of her extraordinary superpowers and past, but has been raised to live a “normal” life. Like the rest of us, she is struggling to “make it” and prove herself. Just like Clark Kent, she dons superficial glasses and works for a local newspaper. Instead of being set in Metropolis, she lives in National City and she is not a well-respected, talented reporter. She is a slave girl/gofer for the temperamental newspaper owner and editor Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart). Kara is constantly trying to prove herself to Grant and wants to be seen as a serious reporter. She seems to idolize Grant who uses her to fetch coffee and do her dirty work. Kara is just an everyday girl who struggles with finding the right man and trying to launch her career off the ground. Kara knows that she was sent to Earth to watch over and protect her cousin, Kal-El, when he is sent to Earth from their home planet, Krypton, moments before it was destroyed. Kal-El traveled straight to Earth, but Kara’s ship was stuck in the Phantom Zone for years and she did not age. Once she landed on Earth, her cousin did not need her protection anymore, having grown up and established himself as Superman, so he set her up to be adopted by the Danvers family, who had helped him learn to use his own powers. Although she was aware of her powers, Kara did not use them often and secretly hid them from everyone except for her family until one night she is forced to use them publicly to save her sister, Alex (Chyler Leigh), when the plan she is riding on almost crashes. Despite witnesses and cell phones capturing blurry photographs of Kara rescuing the plane, Kara’s identity is safe, for the most part. It is revealed that her sister secretly works for the Department of Extra-Normal Operations, a government agency that monitors alien life forms and the possible threats they pose to Earth. Although it fully trusts Superman, who has proven himself, the agency does not trust Kara. Kara’s emergence as a super hero also brought to the surface Vartox (Owain Yeoman), a super-powered alien criminal who was responsible for the plane crash. Kara learns from the DEO that her ship’s detour in the Phantom Zone caused a Kryptonian prison ship to crash with Earth. The prison ship housed hundreds of prisoners that were sentenced by Kara’s mother, Alura (Laura Benanti). Kara finally earns the trust of the DEO when she fights and defeats Vartox (who kills himself rather than be taken alive – but not before issuing an ominous warning of future danger!). The overall look of the pilot is wonderful and exciting. It is visually stunning and the effects are cinematic quality. It looks like a large scale action film instead of a network television show. No expense has been spared and no corners have been cut to depict the large busy city full of skyscrapers, alien worlds, battles, and the plane rescue. The effects seamlessly show Kara flying, catching, and maneuvering an airplane on her shoulders. If anything is lacking, it is the plot. Kara and Gant share a relationship pulled straight from Andy Sachs and Miranda in The Devil Wears Prada (2006). Kara also comes off a bit immature and Jan Brady-like. Instead of whining “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia,” she is constantly referring to her super cousin and seems to be jealous of his fame and hero status. Not only does she long to do for National City what Superman did for Metropolis, she also longs for his acceptance as an equal. She wants his respect. It is an interesting dynamic that she is older than Superman and was sent to protect him, but he has aged and protected and saved the Earth countless times. It also seems that the writers Googled different nicknames for Superman by referring to him as “The Big Guy” or “The Man in Blue” as well as other names that made the references feel staged and awkward. It felt like the writers were dancing around the name Superman in case Pee-Wee Herman jumped out screaming whenever the secret word was uttered. The pilot has been met with mixed reviews and the show has controversially decided to depict Jimmy Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) as African American. It is revealed at the end of the pilot that, knowing Olsen wanted to expand his career, his friend Superman asked him to move to National City as a personal favor to look after Kara. Such racial changes honestly do not matter to me either way as a viewer. I do not feel that it adds to or takes anything away from the character. What does bother me is that he is depicted as cool, charming, and charismatic even though he nearly name drops Superman in every scene. I just also saw Olsen as a nerdy fanboy that followed Clark Kent and Superman eagerly. In this version James Olsen is confident and successful. He even throws Kara a bone when he says she was responsible for the only clear photograph of Supergirl. In an ironic twist, Olsen, who has Superman to thank for his career, just helped give Kara’s career a nudge. My personal favorite part of the entire pilot was a cameo made by Kara’s adoptive Earth parents, Jeremiah (Dean Cain) and Eliza (Helen Slater) Danvers. Cain played Superman in the long running series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Slater played Supergirl in the 1984 film of the same name. I hope the two will return in subsequent episodes. The inclusion of the two actors made it easy for me to forgive some of the missteps of the pilot. I really enjoyed the pilot, overall, and hope it will quickly find its footing. I am optimistic that the writing will catch up to the level and polish of the special effects. The writers need to let Supergirl’s strong character and story stand on its own instead of relying on Superman’s popularity, or when lacking anything else more powerful to say, pointing out the “…but she is a girl that is just as strong as a man” line. This is a great step for female superheroes as long as it is done well and cleverly. I rate this pilot episode a solid 3.5 out of 5 and eagerly await the next episode. Supergirl 1.01 “Pilot”Jessica's Rating3.5Overall ScoreReader Rating: (1 Vote)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.