Supergirl: “Pilot” Series Premiere Review

Photo Credit:

Greg Berlanti is bringing another superhero to TV, and just like last year’s pilot for The Flash, this first entry of Supergirl hits just about every note it needs to.

Actually, if you watched the pilots for The Flash and Supergirl back to back, it’d be pretty hard to tell the difference. They share an upbeat tone as opposed to other superhero dramas (looking at you Arrow and Daredevil) and bring the hero to a place where episode two gets to just run straight into the superheroics.

Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist) was meant to arrive on Earth the same time as her more famous cousin Kal-El (aka, Superman). Instead, she got stuck in the Phantom Zone while he got to show the world what being a hero truly means. A lot of characters talk about Superman as a Jesus-like entity in the pilot. He’s spouted sound advice to Kara’s new coworker James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) that he then gets to relay to her. All of this has made Kara hide her powers, thinking that her cousin already does a good enough job keeping the world safe. She’s awkward but strong-willed, often playing like the lead of a cheesy rom-com, something totally unique but not unwelcome for this genre. It helps that Benoist is charming and looks to be having an absolute blast.

But when a plane her sister Alex (Chyler Leigh) is one looks to be crashing above National City, Kara can’t help herself. Right from her first flight, it looks like CBS has allocated this show a heftier budget than the CW does for Arrow and The Flash. The sequence of her saving the plane looks great.

From there, the pilot settles into what a typical episode of the show might eventually look like. It’s revealed that Alex actually works for the Department of Extra-Normal Operations, who are tracking an alien that broke out of a Kryptonian prison and wields an ax (in the comics, he’s known as Lumberjack). After a shoe-horned arc that gets Kara and Alex on the same page about the former being a superhero, we get the first fights with a supervillain. Again, they look a whole lot better than this show’s CW cousins. We also get some intelligent use of Kara’s powers, especially in the climactic duel.

The pilot ends with Supergirl as an emerging symbol of hope for the planet. Where things go from here will look to be a whole lot of fun to watch. With an undeniably watchable lead and the same formula that makes The Flash work so well (and just enough differences between the two), Supergirl looks to be a welcome addition to the growing superhero television roster. Grade: B+


Some Other Thought Bubbles:

  • Besides Benoist, the show’s greatest strength looks to be Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant, Kara’s boss at a magazine. She gets to do a whole lot of scenery chewing in a Devil Wears Prada kind of way. I can dig it.
  • Yes, James Olsen is a re-imagining of Jimmy Olsen. With him around, it’s hard not to think it can’t be long before Superman himself shows up.
  • As if it even needs to be mentioned but here it is anyway: hooray for a strong female lead that actually still feels like a female character!

By Matt Dougherty

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *