Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Supergirl In Transition: "The Adventures Of Supergirl" Opens Season 2 Well!

The Good: Decent performances, Moments of character development, Direction
The Bad: Very typical and basic plot, Some character alterations that are unsatisfying
The Basics: "The Adventures Of Supergirl" continues the Supergirl narrative without throwing the entire show out of balance.

September and October were pretty intensive months for me with the Marvel Comics-based media franchises, whatwith reading a lot of Marvel Comics books, the return of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and then the debut of Luke Cage (reviewed here!) on Netflix. To try to balance that a bit, this week is swinging heavily toward the DC Comics side of my interests and to that end, I figured it was about time I started on Supergirl. I just finished watching the first season of Supergirl - I'll be reviewing those twenty episodes and the season after I polish off the end of (stupid) Agent Carter - but with the second season of Supergirl beginning, I figured it's a good time to start there.

"The Adventures Of Supergirl" is the second season premiere of Supergirl and it picks up the narrative of Supergirl right where "Better Angels" left off. For those not in the know about that, the episode begins at an inherently disadvantageous position. As well, " The Adventures Of Supergirl" marks the addition of Superman to the on-screen narrative and that creates an interesting potential dilemma for the series. How does one properly do Supergirl without the Man Of Steel overwhelming her narrative? For me, that was a big detraction to tuning in; I'm not a fan of Superman and watching a show where the story is about him is not terribly compelling to me (he already swoops in to "save" enough graphic novel stories I love!). And, while Supergirl Season 1 had its problems, I was enjoying watching how it was progressing forward. With the addition of Superman to the main cast, now I just figure we're waiting for Supergirl to get swapped into Wonder Woman's role in The OMAC Project (reviewed here!). For those not into the DC Comic book universe, feel free to check that out; it is the logical reason from a storytelling point of view to put Maxwell Lord and Superman in the same narrative . . .

. . . so, "The Adventures Of Supergirl". . . . After the recap that lets those who might not have seen Supergirl on CBS know the essentials of the narrative, "The Adventures Of Supergirl" picks up by repeating the final scene of "Better Angels."

Supergirl and Martian Manhunter reach the wreckage of another pod from Krypton, where they discover another (apparent) Kryptonian. Hank Henshaw takes Supergirl to the new DEO facility (above ground!), where they are unable to learn anything new about the alien. Cat Grant calls Kara in to work in advance of the launch of Venture, a civilian space shuttle. As Kara and James Olsen have their first date, one of Venture's engines experiences damage. Superman, who has just arrived in National City, is raced into the upper atmosphere by Supergirl and together they save the space shuttle and its rich passengers.

Supergirl takes Superman to the DEO. Exploring the nature of the alien, they recovered continues to come up with dead ends. Clark Kent joins Kara Danvers at CatCo and they discover that Lena Luthor (Lex Luthor's sister, who is running L-Corp while he is in prison) was the only person who was booked on the Venture who was not aboard when its engine exploded. Kent and Danvers interview Lena and they are given a lot of information and Danvers feels Luthor is on the up and up. Winn Schott learns that Lena Luthor was the target of the Venture accident only moments before another attempt is made on her life using attack drones. When Lena Luthor has a renaming ceremony for LuthorCorp, she is attacked again, which forces Alex, Supergirl and Superman into action to save her.

"The Adventures Of Supergirl" alters some of the relationships from Supergirl's first season, as well as pumping up the soundtrack to the show. Kara and Alex seem more . . . stereotypically girly in the way they interact with one another. And as Kara has her first date with Olsen, she seems so unnatural and bubbly in an immature way that viewers have to wonder if the show had to be dumbed down to be on The CW. That sense is enhanced by the way that the Danvers/Olsen relationship is put on hold. The "will they or won't they" thing is pretty well played out on both Arrow and The Flash; it is frustrating for fans of the DC Television Universe to be fed the same conflict . . . as opposed to showing how a relationship between a superhero and a supporting character could work out in a practical sense.

On the refreshing half of the character alterations, Cat Grant is presented with a somewhat softened, which follows her character arc organically from the first season. Grant seems to genuinely care about Kara and it is nice that she did not revert to her initial self. Grant having some anxiety over meeting Clark Kent is a wonderful twist. But Calista Flockhart is wonderful in giving a motivational speech that allows Cat Grant to both grow and deepen her character while still making Grant feel like Grant.

Kara Danvers's character arc in "The Adventures Of Supergirl" is good. In addition to fighting crime as Supergirl, Kara Danvers has to choose the new job she wants. What could be a pretty stale arc about a woman trying to figure out what job she wants is developed surprisingly well in "The Adventures Of Supergirl," despite its ramifications in the Danvers/Olsen relationship.

J'onn J'onzz is given some tension with Superman and that is a nice way to grow the relationships of both characters. The interplay between J'onzz and Superman is interesting, much the way the interplay between Supergirl and Superman is fun. Melissa Benoist and Tyler Hoechlin have pretty incredible on-screen chemistry as Kara and Clark. Hoechlin not only has the look for Clark Kent (and, surprisingly, Superman!), but he has a demeanor that plays perfectly for acting like a more experienced version of a Kryptonian hiding on Earth.

Frederick Schmidt plays the primary adversary in "The Adventures Of Supergirl" and he basically appears to be Tom Hardy on a television budget. He is fine, but not given much of a role as John Corben right out of the gate. Katie McGrath effectively leaps into the Supergirl narrative as Lena Luthor and is perfectly convincing as a family member of a crazed person who is trying to make good.

The direction for "The Adventures Of Supergirl" is good, though when Winn Schott makes a comment about the Death Star, fans of the DC Television Universe hear writer Andrew Kreisberg's voice in the episode.

"The Adventures Of Supergirl" does a fairly good job of both introducing Superman on-screen and balancing him with Supergirl. The episode only truly adds a moral component with the conflict between Superman and Martian Manhunter, but it is a solidly entertaining episode of Supergirl.

For other big season premieres, please visit my reviews of:
"Flashpoint" - The Flash
"Pilot, Part I" - Legends Of Tomorrow
"A Time To Stand" - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Supergirl - The Complete Second Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the sophomore season of the Kryptonian superheroine here!


For other television season and episode reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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