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TV REVIEWS: FTN Reviews The Stargirl Series Premiere!

May 20th, 2020 by Todd Black Comments

Stargirl is a bit of an interesting case in terms of the latest offering from the DC Comics television slate. As you likely know by now, it’s doing premieres on both DC Universe (which may or may not be continuing) and the CW. This is also a personal project for Geoff Johns, who is the literal creator of Stargirl. So there’s a lot riding on this show for many in varying ways. Thus, the premiere needed to hit. Did it? …mostly.

I’ll be clear, this is NOT the best pilot for a DC Comics show ever, I would say that Flash has that honor. But Stargirl did do a solid enough job of making it work and making us care about at least a few things, even if it left some massive plotholes for us to think about.

Let’s start out with the very hyped opening featuring the JSA. I’m of two minds on this. On one hand, seeing many of its members fight the Injustice Society of America was rather cool. However, having them all get killed? Not so much, especially when you realize that their “replacements” (as shown by the Stargirl poster above) are all teens (minus Pat of course) and we’re supposed to believe they could do what the JSA could not without much experience.

For whatever reason, DC Comics in the live-action setting has a unique view of the JSA. They did them a solid via Smallville, used them loosely yet somewhat prominently in Season 2 of Legends of Tomorrow (even having Vixen go from the JSA to the Legends), and other members have been teased in other shows. But we’ve still never really gotten to see the JSA be something special. And I will maintain that Wildcast has STILL not been represented correctly, as proven in Stargirl where he’s the first hero to die. I’m just saying.

Getting back to Stargirl though, after the battle that sees all of the JSA die (that we can tell), we flash forward ten years where Pat Dugan (aka “Stripesey”) marries the mother of one Courtney Whitmore. A girl who has it all…and then loses it because of a sudden move from Los Angeles to Nebraska.

Things only get weirder for Courtney when she finds the Cosmic Staff, the weapon of Starman, Pat’s former partner, and it reacts to her in a way that is rather reminiscent of the Cloak of Levitation from Dr. Strange. AKA, it has a mind of its own, and it wants her to use it.

The effects of the staff, and how Courtney uses it, is very well done. Plus, they establish how skilled Courtney is early on (gymnastics star, boxer, etc) so we can go through the training phase relatively quickly with the staff. Plus, I also like how despite her using the staff a few times, they didn’t go and give her the costume in the first episode. That makes her different from everyone else and I appreciate that.

Something I don’t appreciate though is the very clear desire to be “tropey” in certain ways. Pat trying hard to be a parent to his new step-daughter? That’s totally fine, that is believable. His kid with the smart mouth and clear lack of filter? Not so much. As is the “first-day bullies”, that cheerleader who cussed Courtney out (without so much as a look from the principal) and so on and so forth.

Yes, I know they’re trying to nail the “new school” vibes, but there is such thing as playing your hand too much. Which brings us to the Injustice Society. Pat just HAPPENS to bring them all to the town that Brainwave is in? And presumably the other members of the Society? How does that happen? Plus, if the JSA was dead, what did the Injustice Society due for 10 years virtually unopposed? These are the questions that keep people like me up at night.

Seeing the STRIPE suit arrive at the end was pretty cool. And I’m glad that Courtney and Pat are at least on a certain level together by the end of the pilot, which will no doubt grow as time goes on. Let’s just hope that things don’t get too tropey as the various other supporting cast members come to play.

“Stargirl” may not have been the best premiere ever, but for fans of this kind of pure “non-dark” superhero storytelling, you’re going to love it. And no doubt want to see where all of this goes. I’m definitely sticking around to see where it all heads, and I’m curious to see how things unfold.

Oh, and don’t forget, even most diehard Arrow fans admit that while the series had a strong start, it took a couple episodes for things to smooth out. I fully expect that here.

 

 

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Todd Black is reader of comics, a watch of TV (a LOT of TV), and a writer of many different mediums. He's written teleplays, fan-fictions, and currently writes a comic book called Guardians (guardians-comic.com). He dreams of working at Nintendo, writing a SHAZAM! TV series, and working on Guardians for a very long time!