Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Okay, I liked SUPERGIRL.

But why?

Is it because I’m still eight and always loved Superman comics and anything associated with Superman?

Is it because I’m still fourteen and like seeing a hot girl in a skimpy outfit fly?

I’d like to think there are other reasons because if not then Jesus, I’m either immature or a perv.

There are other reasons, thank goodness. First and foremost, it was a pleasure watching a superhero who LIKED being a superhero. The reason little boys all loved Superman was because we all secretly wanted to BE Superman. (Well, not so secret. When the original TV series came out me and all my friends ran around the neighborhood with towels tied around our necks. My grandmother once said, “He can fly, he can stop bullets – God forbid he’s Jewish.”)

The point is, there was actual JOY happening on SUPERGIRL – unlike that atrociously depressing Zack Snyder version of Superman. Melissa Benoist wants to be Supergirl. Yeah, it’s a burden and there are all these super villains (I just zone out during all the backstory and legend balloon juice), but she’s having F-U-N fun.

I also liked how earnest she was. I prefer my superheroes positive and plucky, instead of damaged souls who are haunted by the murder of their parents or listen incessantly to right wing talk radio.

There were a lot of exciting action sequences, but I kept reminding myself this was the pilot. Next week, when they’re making the show for whatever the network license fee is her biggest stunt might be bending a lead pipe. I hope they keep the action up because the dialogue was Kryptonite. At one point her Earth sister says, “I wanted to be a star. You could actually touch stars.”  Jeepers!

The rest of the cast was fine. Calista Flockhart, her devil-Prada boss, has skin the color of Great Caesar’s Ghost. Chyler Leigh plays her sister. One of the rods from Kara’s spaceship must’ve broken off on impact and lodged up Leigh’s ass. Kara saves her life by averting a plane crash she was on, and her reaction is to scold Kara for exposing her powers. “Hey bitch, how about thank you?” Mehcad Brooks is “James” Olsen, not Jimmy Olsen and is African-American. Diversity enters the Superman universe. And Jeremy Jordan plays Kara’s friend/confidant/possible love interest if it turns out there’s enough diversity and he doesn’t have to be gay.

Do I have quibbles? Sure I do. It’s mindless, it’s silly, and God forbid Kara is Jewish!

But the bottom line: SUPERGIRL is a guilty pleasure. It’s COVERT AFFAIRS with flying. It’s ALIAS with a cape.

And it’s not on my DVR just because I’m either eight or fourteen-years-old, although maybe if I were, CBS would once again give a shit that I was watching.


Bill Jones said...

Potential Friday question, based on some of your recent posts. I get the sense that you are either bemused or even a little annoyed by the way that new shows, especially dramas/action shows, are bending over backwards to showcase "diversity." I have to say I agree with you--it's all well and nice to try to be inclusive, but some of the efforts that new shows are going to to represent every aspect of the spectrum are a little silly, especially when they result in a situation that, for better or worse, does not even approximate how things would be in real life.

So my questions to you are (1) whether you think networks/shows are going a little overboard in their quest to showcase diversity--to the point where it feels contrived and patronizing, not sincere--and (2) do you think this is indicative of networks' lack of imagination/ingenuity? I.e., network officials everywhere are saying: everyone wants diversity, so by golly, we're going to show 'em diversity! Just wondering what your take is based on your experience in the game.

Rock Golf said...

If it helps, the creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were nice Jewish-Canadian boys.

And to connect to yesterday's column, Joe Shuster was related to Frank Shuster, half of the now-forgotten comedy duo of Wayne & Shuster. They held the record for most appearances (67!) on the Ed Sullivan Show, often doing 15-minute parodies of Shakespeare.

Bill Avena said...

Come on there's nothing wrong with your age. I see plenty of people of your demographic at the pizza section of the freezer aisle.

Mitchell Hundred said...

For reference: this is what Superman is supposed to be like.

Peter said...

atrociously depressing Zack Snyder version of Superman

And judging by the miserable trailer, Batman vs Superman will be even more depressing.

and God forbid Kara is Jewish!

I don't know about Melissa Benoist but the first Supergirl, Helen Slater, is Jewish. At 51 she's still a total babe. I read that she's in the pilot. It's nice that they're acknowledging her with a cameo.

McAlvie said...

I have to admit I liked it too. I even got a bit caught up when she was rescuing the plane. The sister's switch from "this is your fault" to "you have to be the hero" gave me whiplash, but then they had to fit a whole lot of character development and backstory into under 30 minutes once you factor in commercial breaks. So all in all not a bad job. I rather like the new Jimmy "James" Olsen. Having him be a cohort instead of the kid who needs constant rescuing is a bit refreshing. And the cameos by Helen Slater and Dean Cain were a fun touch.

Supergirl needs a few lessons in how to fight, something girls aren't taught as a general rule, so she gets a pass there. But, seriously, being strong and nearly invincible won't be enough if she doesn't learn how to use what she's got. And that might be a fun episode in itself.

BrettJ said...

A comic fan can always spot little shout-outs to us. For example, there is a reference to "Otto Binder" road / bridge - Otto Binder was a noted science fiction / comic author (he wrote most of the Captain Marvel stories) who also happened to co-create Kara Zor-el. And "Win Schott" - her buddy - could also be a little shout out. Winslow Schott is the super villian known as the Toyman. I did like it, but it has a long way to go. I will continue though as it has Callista Flockheart, who I like in everything.

Tim Dunleavy said...

I liked SUPERGIRL too, and like you I loved Benoist's attitude. But although Benoist is spunky and adorable (and hot - turns out there's one thing I agree with Jeb Bush about), I wonder how long it'll be before I get tired of the character's cutesy style.

A few things about the pilot's logic bothered me.

First - I thought a secret identity was supposed to be SECRET. By the end of the first hour of SUPERGIRL, Kara's secret identity is known by two of her co-workers, her sister, and EVERYBODY in her sister's office. You expect me to believe that ONE of those people won't blurt out the secret sometime?

And second - why is she wearing glasses from the very first scene? With Superman, it's established that he doesn't need glasses, that he only wears them as a disguise. (Yes, glasses aren't a disguise, and both Superman and Supergirl would be recognized by anyone with a brain in their head, but that's another story.) But Kara's got super-vision, yet she's wearing glasses from the first scene, except sometimes she doesn't need them - wha?

BTW, nice to see Calista Flockhart still looks good in a miniskirt. Guess that's her superpower.

I'll keep recording and watching CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND on Monday nights (and not just because I have a friend in the cast), but SUPERGIRL will be a nice guilty pleasure on the side.

Jim said...

If it helps, the creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were nice Jewish-Canadian boys.

They were both Jewish, but only Shuster was Canadian. He was born in Toronto. His family moved to Cleveland when he was 9 or 10, which is where he met Siegel. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sean MacDonald said...

I didn't watch it, so I can't comment on the quality of the show. However, knowing certain details in advance put me off (as a avid comics reader). It seems that the writers didn't want to use any of the comic book Supergirl's supporting characters or situations, so they just gave her all of Superman's instead. (Wearing glasses, working as a reporter, friends with Jimmy (now James) Olsen, etc.)

Granted, the classic version of the comic book Supergirl had one of two main setups: she was either living in an orphanage (wearing a brown wig to disguise herself), where the only recurring character of note was potential love interest Dick Malverne... or after being adopted, she was a grown-up on her own, with a constantly changing job/home life. She was an actor, a college student, etc, with varying supporting casts that never stuck around for long. So, okay, it would be hard to work with that, but why make her "female Superman"? Seems like a lack of creativity (or a lack of "risk").

Of course, there are other versions of comic book Supergirl (blob of protoplasm, Earth-angel (using Jewish religious concepts), assassin sent to kill Superman, etc), but they too were simply floundering around trying to find something "different" to do with the character.

Kirk said...

Jim is right. Siegel was born and raised in Cleveland, as was his wife Joanne, who modeled for Lois Lane. The house Siegel grew up in is now a Cleveland landmark (albeit located in a neighborhood that these days is one you may not want to go into after dark--it could use a Superman.) The house Shuster spent his teenage years was torn down years ago, but there's at least a plaque marking the spot.)

James Van Hise said...

The only odd note in the show is that we are given the impression that the only reason she finally decided to "come out" and save the plane was because her foster sister was on it! That was the deciding factor? Not the other hundred people who would have died had she done nothing? The show needed a line of dialogue to get that problem out of the way.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I thought of all the networks CBS was the one that was aiming at a more adult audience. THE GOOD WIFE, MADAM SECRETARY, etc. aren't shows for 14yos.


SharoneRosen said...

I was (am) also a complete Superman geek.. had a drawer full of Superman, Supergirl and Legion of Super Heroes DC comics in my childhood dresser (ok, two drawers).

I genuinely enjoyed this Supergirl. Sure, I wanted to slap her ungrateful sister after the plane rescue, but I liked that her sister didn't turn into an adversary. That would have been an easy and, lately, typical turn in the plot.

I am looking hopefully forward to enjoying this show. Is it too much if I wear my red cape while I'm watching?

Curt Alliaume said...

I'll try to catch the rerun sometime. It'll be interesting to see if Supergirl starts singing (Benoist was a Glee cast member prior to being the Woman of Steel).

Brent said...

Mitchell Hundred - couldn't agree more. Thanks for the link.

Igor said...

Ken wrote: "Is it because I’m still fourteen and like seeing a hot girl in a skimpy outfit fly?"

You don't have to be 14, according to Jeb Bush (62): "I saw that Supergirl is on TV. I saw it when I was working out this morning, there was an ad promoting Supergirl. She looked pretty hot."

YEKIMI said...

Haven't watched it yet but probably will wait till it comes out on DVD. Refusing to pay over-inflated cable prices and living too far from the TV tower where the OTA signal can hit my antenna sorta sucks.

Best wishes for Jamie Farr who collapsed on stage in Canada. Apparently a blocked artery which he'll need surgery for. Didn't realize he's 81 now.

Peter said...

What's the consensus on the news that Ricky Gervais will host the Golden Globes next year? I know some really don't like him but I enjoyed his previous two gigs as host, though you could tell on the second one that he'd been given orders to tone the material down because it was very, very tame in comparison to his first time. Doing a Kim Kardashian joke really summed up how softball it was, but he still managed to be funny, so I'm looking forward to him returning.

In contrast, I'm not so enthusiastic about Chris Rock hosting the Oscars again. The last time he was really dull. My dream Oscars host would be Conan O'Brien. He'd be brilliant.

Michael said...

Friday question: I read recently that BIG BANG THEORY episodes were down to under 18 minutes, not counting commercials and credits. No doubt driven by greed. My opinion is this has hurt the quality, especially since they usually juggle multiple storylines in each episode due to the large cast. How does this compare to typical episode lengths for shows you worked on?

Brian said...

Thanks for pointing new shows like this out Ken. Seems to be a lot of these shows / movies lately. Do you like Flash or Arrow?

powers said...

Supergirl was indeed fun,Ken.

I agree with all of the quibbles you make regarding the pilot.

I have to add that the scene with Kara watching her Kryptonian mother's hologram doing cornball dialogue,& then Kara attempting to hug the hologram was cringe worthy.

The production values were superb.
Any living members from the cast or crew of The Adventures of Superman TV show would be astonished at the visuals for this show.

Cat Grant is totally unlikable.
At least with Louie Depalma you got lots of funny.

I think The Flash will remain my favorite sf/superhero show,but Supergirl will probably be enjoyable.

Gary said...

It was really fun watching a show with an alien from another planet -- Calista Flockhart. Supergirl was okay too.

MikeK.Pa. said...

I don't know that I'll watch it every week, but I'll check back from time to time. I'm glad you were upfront with the cliched dialogue. Also the immature/perv dilemma for aging men.

I switched from DC to Marvel in middle school. A tortured teen like Peter Parker, who had to battle the Green Goblin and acne at the same time, was more relevant to me than a millionaire and his boy ward.

Bob said...

How could Superman not be Jewish? Kal-El sounds like the name of a Reform temple.

Charles H. Bryan said...

It was filled with cliches. One other thing bothered me - there seems to be a lot of Superman teasing. I know, it's tough to establish Supergirl without mentioning Superman, but I hope they just stop with the references. That may be tough with James Olsen as a character. (Sort of my problem with GOTHAM, too - just give us Batman, already.)

VP81955 said...

Mentioning "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" brought to mind the 2005 film "My Super Ex-Girlfriend," which in retrospect would've been far funnier if Anna Faris had been super-powered and Uma Thurman played the "other woman," rather than the other way around.

AJ Thomas said...

It was ok, but those fun action sequences happened way too quick. The pace of the show was too fast. Within the first 20 minutes there were about 5 major characters introduced. There was no drawn out suspense. One second Kara is in a briefing room and the next shot was her halfway through a battle sequence. Overall it felt choppy and it seemed like an entire show of short "previously on SUPERGIRL" clips.

Anonymous said...

Of course Superman is Jewish.

"I gave them you, my only son."

Anonymous said...

This actress was great in Homeland.

Hank Gillette said...

Best wishes for Jamie Farr who collapsed on stage in Canada. Apparently a blocked artery which he'll need surgery for. Didn't realize he's 81 now.

So Mr. Farr is actually old enough (barely) to have served in the Korean War? That surprises me. My best wishes go out to him also.

Hank Gillette said...

Tell your grandmother Superman is Jewish. His real parents were two nice Jewish boys from Cleveland, and he was always about immigrant assimilation. (Though how they circumcised him is anybody's guess.)

They’ve modified Superman’s origin several times, but I believe in the current continuity he only gradually acquired his powers, so circumcision would not have been a problem (assuming that male Kryptonians even have a penis and are not born circumcised).

Greg Morrow said...

If you liked Supergirl's positive, wants-to-be-a-hero vibe, then I would recommend the Flash, which is by some of the same people, and has very much captured the Silver Age style of that character. It has similar problems as Supergirl in the personal relationships and dialog, but the superheroing -- done on a CW budget -- is top notch, and pleases me greatly.

Barth said...

Ken: I am big fan of yours, and read your sensational book about baseball broadcastng. I, too, am a Supermanaholic and love this show more than any other screen version of the Superman/Supergirl type since the George Revves television series which first introduced the character to me. Whether Kara is Jewish (or Melissa Benoist), the writers (at least some of them) surely are. For instance, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WWMmn--Vsk