“Supergirl” And Where The Premiere Episode May Have Gone Wrong

supergirl-tv-show-premiere-dateThe much anticipated premiere of Supergirl finally arrived on CBS last week. This was the series that many people were very excited about. So excited in fact that many people saw the full episode through “alternate means” months before CBS premiered it. As for me, I was very much looking forward to seeing what Berlanti et al were going to give us TV / comic book geeks with this character.

I didn’t mind the pilot episode too much. It was okay. Melissa Benoist does work for me. She shows a lot of the light hearted innocence that I’ve come to expect in the character, but without any of the baggage that her “younger, but now older, cousin” has to carry. There isn’t much else to go on because such little time was devoted to her actual development as a character on this show, but I’ll address that issue a bit later.

One thing I don’t care for in this show is Jimmy Olsen. It’s not that he’s black, but that he’s really overly confident, highly successful, and all around athletically buffed! Jimmy is supposed to be a skinny nerd which is always what made the Jimmy / Superman friendship so interesting. Having this very athletic looking Jimmy Olsen bugs me as it does not “feel” like the Jimmy Olsen I know. Perhaps the network should have looked to past actors who have played the role, with a keen eye to Marc McClure as I personally found his portrayal of Jimmy Olsen, dated as it may be, to be one of the best ever seen on the screen.

I actively dislike Calista Flockhart in this show. She’s a great actress, but her character is coming off as just way too two dimensional, and at times it seems as if the show runners were trying to create their own Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada”) which might work well in a movie because you have that entire time to flesh the character out, but in a weekly show it could take at least a month before we start to see any depth in the character of Cat Grant, and that might be just too long a time where viewers would start to feel put off by her abrasiveness.

While I have not seen the second episode yet (it is on our TiVo), I found the first episode to be (and as many other people have aptly observed) rushed. They had to give us some type of origin story, not only in terms of her leaving Krypton (which was mercifully brief), but also her development on Earth. That includes her learning to BECOME Supergirl, as well as any complications that may come from that in addition to the “villain of the week.” That is just WAY too much ground to cover in such a short period of time. The premiere episode would have been better suited in the very least a 90 minute time slot, preferably a 2 hour episode. Much of the same ground could have been adequately covered, while giving us some good character development that would allow the audience to actually start to identify with the character(s) on the show. Instead we got something that was highly rushed to the point where it felt like a lot of these same points were reduced to mere afterthoughts.

People are pointing fingers at show runner Greg Berlanti, but given his enormously successful track record with The Flash and Arrow, I would go so far as to say that the failing with Supergirl isn’t so much Berlanoti’s fault as it is that of the execs at CBS. I suspect he approached that series much the same way he did with the CW properties, but where he took good time to brilliantly develop the characters on those shows (giving us SOME growth and development, but never too much in one shot) I believe the suits at CBS wanted something different and in their impatience decided that they wanted Supergirl to be a fully realized superhero by the end of the episode, and to have it all done in a regular 60 minute (meaning roughly 43 w/commercials) time slot.

If the CBS executives will just get out of the way then I have every confidence that Berlanti will deliver a series that would clearly satisfy, not only them, but the TV viewing audience as well. We here at T G Squared Studios will stick it out for now as there is some really good potential there, but the series will need to improve if they wish to keep us. The premiere episode should have been outstanding. Instead it was merely “okay.”

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