Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Supergirl Season 1 Review (SPOILERS)

Last night I was catching up on the 20th episode of Supergirl, thinking of course that there was going to be the normal 23 episodes. As I was watching, I was thinking that this felt like a finale. I brushed that off, though, because I was confident that I had three more episodes. Nope. Turns out that was the finale. I don't know if you've ever had that feeling of thinking you had three more episodes left in the next month, but realizing you didn't have any left until the next TV season, but that's a rather depressing feeling that definitely screams first world problems. I mean, there are starving children in Africa and here I am today upset that I don't have anymore Supergirl episodes to watch? Oh well. I suppose that means I get to write my review for this a month earlier that I initially intended. That's good right? As has been the case on this blog recently, my target audience for this review will be people that have finished the season or people that don't care about spoilers. Yes, this limits my potential audience a bit, but it also allows for me to get all of my thoughts out instead of trying to dance around spoilers and thus I much prefer this way. If you haven't seen Supergirl, go watch it! Then come back and we can discuss the details here. 

First and foremost, there's a lot of people hating on this show, but continuing to watch it. This doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. I guess if you don't like the show, but are holding out hope that it becomes better I can totally see that. But if you're just hate watching... why? There are so many TV shows out there. Pick one that you enjoy. No one is forcing you to watch Supergirl. On the other side of the spectrum, critics apparently love this show. But don't ask me how Supergirl managed to get a 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes while Legends of Tomorrow managed to only get a 59 percent. That doesn't make much sense since the two shows are about on the same level for me. Although you probably shouldn't get me started on the new TV side of Rotten Tomatoes, because that's all kinds of messed up. They really should score each individual episode because giving a score to the season as a whole at the very beginning of the season isn't entirely fair for the shows that start slow and get better or the shows that start strong but crash and burn. As far as my opinion, I realize that this show has it's flaws and definitely starts out very rocky, but I immediately saw the potential of this show right from day one and a little of bit of patience has definitely paid off.

What is it that I immediately saw in this show that I loved? The answer is simple. They do the Superman universe right. If you ask me who my favorite superhero is, my answer is going to be Superman. Specifically, I really love the Richard Donner Superman movies, that being Superman and Superman II. To say they went downhill when Donner stepped away is a huge understatement. But nevertheless, Christopher Reeve is my Superman. Not only is there some great symbolism with the character (whether or not that was the original intentions with the character is beside the point), but it's also just light-hearted and fun. Christopher Reeve brought some lovable charisma to the character and you could tell that his main focus was protecting Earth and loving the people. Those two movies didn't take themselves too seriously, but that's a good thing. This isn't a character that is supposed to be taken seriously. Superman Returns with Brandon Routh did a good job of keeping the tone of Superman even though the story and acting was a bit of a bore. But man was I angry when Zack Snyder and the new DC Universe took Superman and threw him in a blender. Man of Steel was obviously a Superman movie that was made for those people who hate the Richard Donner Superman movies and thus is why I hated Man of Steel in return. They actually did a bit better in Batman v. Superman with the character, but not by much.

Then there's Supergirl. After being absolutely furious with the current DC Universe for making a dark and depressing Superman movie with a Superman who obviously didn't care one bit for Earth and had a backwards moral code, it was a breath of fresh air to see a TV show in the Superman universe that did things right. As far as the character of Supergirl, I personally don't know her as well. I don't read the comics and the only times she's been adapted onto film or TV is that awful 1984 movie Supergirl as well being brought in towards the end of the TV show Smallville, which I haven't seen all the way through. But I don't need to know the specific character super well in order to know how a TV show or movie in the Superman universe should be done. Light-hearted and fun. That's Superman. Don't take things seriously. Don't be dark and depressing. Keep the heart and soul of the character in tact. Supergirl nails this. Supergirl is Kara Zor-El and she is Superman's cousin who is sent to Earth to watch over him. Turns out her pod got knocked off course and she got here a lot later, so she spends her time growing up as a normal girl living a normal, human life. But then certain events cause Kara to come out and become Supergirl. Her cousin Superman had his time to shine in Metropolis, but now it's time for Supergirl to step up and protect National City.

Before I go any further, I have to give a ton of praise to Melissa Benoist as Supergirl. Melissa Benoist is to Supergirl as Christopher Reeve is to Superman. She's absolutely perfect in this role. She definitely has the charm and charisma necessary to pull this character off and make her the lovable hero of the city. She is also so pure and innocent, which I love. You can tell that she has the utmost care and respect for everyone around her. She's not prideful or self-centered. In fact, the well-being of the city is much more important to her than her own well-being. She's here to protect Earth and that's what she cares about most. On top of all that, there's a lot of growth that her character experiences throughout the season. One of the biggest criticisms that anti-Superman people will give is that Superman is too perfect. People find it boring that he can do everything, defeat any villain, and not be stopped by anyone unless they have kryptonite. I can argue that at another time, but one good thing about Melissa Benoist's Supergirl is that she's not perfect. Sure, she has every power that Superman has, but there's a difference between having powers and knowing how to use those powers. When she finally got to Earth, she essentially went undercover as a normal human being and thus she's untrained when it's finally her time to shine. And it takes her time to learn how to refine her powers and use them properly.

In addition to providing Kara with some honest growth both physically, mentally, and emotionally, the other thing that this show does right is provide villains that match her powers. Yes, people do complain that Superman is too strong and too perfect, but if you give him villains that match his power, that's not a huge problem. Yes, in the Superman lore there are plenty of villains that are equal to him or stronger than him. I will admit that some of the Superman movies I do like probably spend a little too much time on Lex Luthor and not enough time on these other villains. Thus Superman seems boring because Lex Luthor is a normal man and Superman is a Kryptonian with a ton of powers. But there are villains like Doomsday and Darkseid that own Superman and make things interesting. Obviously these two villains aren't introduced in Supergirl, but right off the bat we are introduced to a lot of potential villains that could be a good match for Supergirl. There's other Kryptonians that she has to deal with as well as other villains from various planets that have the same strength as her. Then we have Maxwell Lord, who plays the Lex Luthor type of character in this show. He's cunning and smart, but also a normal human being who we don't know if we should trust or not.

I did say that this show isn't perfect and so now let me talk about a few of these areas. First off, this show did have a really rocky beginning. The pilot is essentially her origin story of how she becomes Supergirl. This is necessary to tell because not many people, myself included, know Supergirl's backstory. But they certainly shove a ton into that first episode. No, it wouldn't have been good to spend too much time with this backstory and thus I am perfectly fine with her flying around as Supergirl at the end of the pilot. But they did kinda rush and stumble out of the gate. Personally I didn't hate the pilot. Potential is the word I used after watching it because of the tone and feel that I've previously talked about as well as Melissa Benoist as Supergirl. But it did take time. It wasn't like Arrow or The Flash which hooked you right from the beginning. It took time. Honestly the first half of the season wasn't the great. It's good that they took a light-hearted and fun approach to it, but there were times where it was a little too cheesy and you didn't know exactly what direction they were going with the story. They also throw a whole bunch of characters at you and it takes a bit of time for you to develop an emotional attachment to some of these characters. Thus while it had potential, average is the word I would use for the first half of the season.

The other big problem was that it suffered from the same problem that a lot of CW shows suffer from. Yes, this is on CBS, but it's from the same writers as The Flash and Arrow and thus it feels like a CW show. What I mean in this instance is that there's an overabundance of romance. I acknowledge the fact that just about every superhero has a romance element to it, but I would rather have that romance be a side dish and not a main dish. During the middle chunk of this season, the very complex love web was the main dish and the superhero stuff was the side dish. We have Winn Schott, played by Jeremy Jordan, as Kara's best friend. He is the first to know about her, outside her sister of course, and he's the one that helps her become Supergirl by creating the suit and whatnot. Then we have Jimmy Olsen, played by Mechad Brooks, enter the picture. He was Superman's photographer at the Daily Planet and now he's moved over here. Well Winn has a huge crush on Kara. Kara has a huge crush on Jimmy. Jimmy has a girlfriend named Lucy Lane, who I believe is the sister of Lois Lane. Winn tries to go after Kara. That catches Kara off guard and she doesn't know how to act. Kara goes after Jimmy until she learned Jimmy has his girl. But Jimmy kinda likes both Kara and Lucy, which is a problem. Then Melissa Benoist's real life husband enters the scene and goes after Kara and a psycho girl enters the scene and goes after Winn (she doesn't act psycho at first).

Yeah. It's a messy web and we spend way too long with it. I'm here to watch a superhero show, not a romance-centered soap opera. Not surprisingly, though, the character that Kara has the best chemistry with is the character who is played by Melissa Benoist's real-life husband. The actor's name is Blake Jenner and his character is named Adam Foster. Knowing that him and Melissa were married in real life made it really fun to watch them interact with each other and start dating again. I'm sure they had fun with that. I'm sure that Melissa also found dumping him after two episodes rather amusing. I don't know what the game plan is there, but that was dumped really fast as if they just did that for fun to bring Melissa's real husband in. As far as the actual drama they are serious with, I would actually prefer Kara and Winn get together and Jimmy and Lucy get back together. I don't think that's the game plan here, though. I think Kara and Jimmy is the end game plan, which is the direction they started to go at the end of the season. I don't think they have the best chemistry, but I do think Mechad Brooks is a boss on this show, so it's whatever. Much better than Oliver and Felicity on Arrow or Barry and Iris on The Flash. I do feel bad for Winn. He's the coolest guy on the show, but I feel he's the one that will be stuck in the friend zone the whole time.

Anyways, after going through a rocky beginning and getting stuck in the middle with a way too much romance, being patient with this series really payed off. The second half of this season was really enjoyable and it started when team Supergirl really started to gel. We essentially started with two separate teams. First team was Supergirl with the DEO (Department of Extranormal Operations). The main players are Kara's Earth sister Alex Danvers and the DEO leader Hank Henshaw. The second team is Kara with Jimmy and Winn. Eventually they all essentially become one team. It takes a bit to get used to these characters, but once I did, I really loved them. The real turning point in my opinion is when we learned that Hank Henshaw wasn't actually Hank Henshaw. At first we didn't know if he was trustworthy, which made him interesting as I thought he was going to be the villain. Turns out he is actually J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter. Man, is this guy good! David Harewood is the actor playing him and he initially goes from being an interesting side character to almost stealing the entire season. I really liked the drama when the DEO learned who he was and I also liked the personal drama between him as he didn't want to reveal himself. Eventually we have Supergirl and Martian Manhunter fighting together to stop people and that is so entertaining.

It took a while for us to figure out who the actual villain of season one is. Once we learned, that story was decent. We introduce Astra and Alura. Alura is Supergirl's biological, Kryptonian mother. She's technically dead but is around to protect Supergirl and give her advice much in the same way as Jor-El and Superman. Alura's twin sister Astra is not dead and her and her husband Non are the villains. Astra and Kara have a really interesting relationship in a Darth Vader and Luke sort of way. Astra is bad, but she's family and Kara does her best to try to get some good out of her. In a battle, Astra is killed by Alex Danvers, but J'onn J'onzz takes the blame so that Alex and Kara's relationship isn't torn apart and that leads to some excellent drama. Kara is super mad at J'onn, but Alex doesn't have the heart or courage to tell her the truth. It's an amazing sister moment when she finally does. Following Astra's death, Non takes it upon himself to finish her bidding, thus making Non the overall big bad villain here. I wasn't the biggest fan of Non, although I did find him serviceable. I liked the idea of him turning all the humans into drones and Supergirl having to try to figure out how to stop that. Then of course when that fails, he decides he's going to explode all of the humans' brains with this Myriad project that he used to control all of them. The final battle was a little too easy for Supergirl and Martian Manhunter, but it made for a decent finale.

Overall I think this first season did a great job of setting up this universe. I like all of team Supergirl, but I especially like Supergirl and Martian Manhunter as a fighting team. Some people are saying he should get his own show. I say keep him on this show because that makes Supergirl a better show. I didn't talk much about Maxwell Lord, but I also loved his character and I think there is a ton of potential with him. He's evil and cunning at first, but then he joins them at the end to save mankind. Is he good? Is he bad? I don't know. But I like that mystery. I also loved the crossover episode with Supergirl and the Flash. I want more of that. I even would love a mini Justice League TV show much like Legends of Tomorrow, but with the main characters like Arrow, Flash, and Supergirl. Would that be great? Most of all, I really hope Supergirl gets renewed by CBS. Rumors are that they will renew it, but they haven't yet and it's making me nervous. Yes, this show had a rocky start and a lot of people probably gave up on it. But those of us who stuck with it were treated to an amazing second half of the season and thus because of that I think the potential for this show is great! In fact, towards the end of the season, I was actually enjoying Supergirl more than I was enjoying Arrow and The Flash. Both of those shows started to take a dip while Supergirl started soaring.

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