By Ryan Freeman
As soon as I found out that Supergirl was airing on CBS, I knew what I was getting into, yet I forgot to temper my expectations while watching -- so naturally I was left disappointed.
But not without hope.
The main issue is the dialogue. For the most part, it felt quite forced and inauthentic, which is quite possibly one of the easiest ways to ruin a show. The fact that they’re quite obviously not allowed to say “Superman” is very evident -- they refer to him as Kara’s cousin, he/him, or other nicknames such as the “big guy” so often that it almost seemed self aware of how ridiculous it is.
Character interactions that felt natural were sparse, although Kara (Melissa Benoist) and James (Mehcad Brooks) seemed to play off of each other rather well in the later parts of the episode. The interactions between the “evil forces” were cringeworthy at best and extremely rushed, with very little chemistry. They almost seemed like an afterthought by the studio, rather than important scenes to the story.
While the dialogue can just be written off as cheesy, the plot itself was also loaded with cliches -- the mastermind behind the evil plots being a familiar figure, the co-worker remarking that she’ll know love when she feels it (and then her, coincidentally feeling it right after), the “it’s dangerous!” reaction after she reveals herself, the secret government agency…… The list goes on. These cliches are not so terrible on their own, but one after another was tiresome by the end.
Those issues being raised, there were, however, many bright spots in the episode -- which leads me to believe the series itself has a ton of potential that may be unveiled in coming episodes.
For the most part, Melissa Benoist does an absolutely fantastic job capturing what I felt was the “essence” of the Supergirl character: the struggle of wanting to be so much more, when everyone around her is telling her to stay in line. Her job as an intern is a not-so-subtle parallel to her hidden life, where she strives to make a bigger impact than delivering coffees and running errands for her boss. Her pure joy in her apartment during the scene following the place incident was definitely a highlight of the episode for me, especially her reaction to the cliched newscaster remarking about the damage done.
The fairly obvious [feminism-aware] tone of the show was, overall, well done. While heavy-handed at times, it was not so much that it was overly preachy. The more “subtle” points of reference were more of a highlight -- from her saying “sorry” to a man she bumps into while walking down a crowded sidewalk, who looks like he was expecting her to move out of his way, to the condescending way people react to her appearance while she’s saving a plane from crashing. There was even a cameo appearance by a guy who assumes she’s a lesbian for not being into him.
As far as where the show goes from here, it has a lot of potential that could make for an entertaining series. The production team knows what they’re doing, as the whole episode looked beautiful, and they have a great [“lore”] to work with, not to mention a pretty decent cast. I will probably give the show a couple more episodes to clean up its act before writing it off, as I have hope that it can turn into something worth watching.
See another take on the Supergirl pilot by J.J. Ulm.