You know that leaked Supergirl pilot. I watched it. And now I’m writing about it. I guess that is how this works.
Director: Glen Winter
Writer: Andrew Kreisberg
Quick Review: The first ten minutes are flat narrated exposition. Then there is a plane crash scene with absolutely no tension. the best part about the plane scene was there wasn’t any dialog, because, man were those words clunky. We had bad puns, obvious set ups, and nothing was less funny than the attempts at comedy. I almost feel there needs to be air quotes around that word. The only thing I found to be be straight up good was the score. After that, the slight training montage was decent but it was far too short and it loses points for containing lines such as “the cape is for aerodynamics.” Put simply I was unimpressed. That said, I’m sure folk will love it.
Spoilers lurk below.
Analysts: This is the first episode and already the show is contradicting itself. We get ten minutes of how Kara has done nothing with her powers for so long she doesn’t even know if she can fly. Then the Plot Point News Network shows her sister-figure is in danger and she launches into action. That made me think two things: Is her sister were not on the plane would she have just ignored it? The second thought was how many people in danger has she ignored? Uncle Ben shakes his head.
Then there is the whole thing of the DEO. I understand as her future employers/mission givers why the DEO is here. However, outside of plot easing, I’m not sure why they are here. Their leader doesn’t like aliens. The sister, a secret DEO agent, is in a perfect position to spy on the alien. So what does the DEO do? Bring Supergirl to their homebase and go on a exposition spree. Because reasons. (Oh, and so the DEO can be a source of freak of the week missions because coming up with with other storylines is hard.)
And let’s spend a few moments looking over how important it is to this show that the hero is a girl. In case you are wondering. It is really important. There are hints that the DEO chief thinks she is weak because she is a girl. There is a rather shaky argument on why the name is Supergirl instead of Superwoman (when I couldn’t shake the feeling if a Superbeing gave an interview and said “Call me Superwoman, not Supergirl” wouldn’t Supergirl get tossed to the side? The big fight was against a sexist. Constant references were made towards Kara’s mother. Kara’s civilian boss is a woman. Kara’s closest relative is her sister. Not that any of this is necessarily bad, but it comes off that her gender might be the most important aspect of this show. And I like that she may become a powerful woman (now she is something else. A work in progress. An affable nerdess of the sitcom variety who happens to have super strength) but I would rather the show focus on making her a strong character that is a woman when what they did in this episode is highlight that she is a girl. Her entire identity in this show is that she is the girly Superman, complete with her girl version of the Daily Planet, when it should be about raising her above that.
It also follows that exact same formula of the other Berlanti shows. Here is the special person with what should be a secret identity. Also, it is okay to spread that identity around. No one will ever get angry or shocked when their dual life is episode by friends, family acquaintances (just watched the last few episodes of season of of Flash and that really annoyed me and it is happening again here. Now let’s surround the Special with people who know that identity and serve as genre savvy helpers and quip machines. I bet the first order of business in episode two will be for this show’s version of the Scoobies to set up a hideout. It’s almost as if this formulaic writing is following some sort of pattern.
I get that Berlanti is pretty much the only game in town and that the faces on it are attractive. I don’t get why there isn’t a push to make these shows better.
I’m going to stop before I cross over from grumpy into just plain mean.
4 thoughts on “Grumpy Bird Review: Supergirl TV Pilot”
Oh, it is bad. The show tries so hard to please the female audience that it comes off as sexist. And I am honestly surprised that so few people complain about this.
Supergirl is crippled from the start. Her very origin and the recurring assumption is that she is a lesser Superman. It doesn’t help that Superman is repeatedly presented as an ideal of moral perfection.
There are ways around it. You could have 12-year old Kara arrive on Earth dressed in red and blue and immediately shoot into action, only to encounter a terrifying foe whose power/weaponry strips her of her powers. For years after she has no choice but to live as human, but the legend of Supergirl echoes through the years, until the day she finds the secret to unlocking her powers once again…
The pilot does feel overly formulaic. Too much is just thrown into play at once, the bad guys are cartoonish, the good guys are cartoonish. I’m so glad this isn’t high-school Supergirl and full of angst and UST, but I miss the subtle and relentless tension of Smallville.
swanpride: For a show a that seems perfect for celebrating strong women it does seem to have a low opinion of women. I almost expect there to be a long shopping sequence where Kara and her sister talk about their hair.
Frank: I can see why Supergirl can be a challenge and I do wonder why this show plays up the lesser Superman quality to such a high degree.
You should better go read the essay called ‘Why I Hate Supergirl’ by Mike Smith. It addresses some of the problems with the programme, most notably saying that almost every Supergirl story is a Superman story with a different character written into it.
And whatever attempts to genuinely differentiate her from Superman, especially when they turned her into a shapeshifting angel, don’t last long. It’s like they have no idea what to really do with her other than painfully realise she feels redundant (even I myself find it hard to admit).