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Review: Supergirl Season 1

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Supergirl series one has flown into our DVD and Blu-ray players, and that is reason to smile! Because this new show, starring Melissa Benoist as Supergirl/Kara Danvers, is a delight to watch. We are first introduced to Kara and her adoptive sister, Alex (Chyler Leigh), safe in the knowledge that the hero people know about is Superman not Supergirl. But when an emergency forces Kara to use her powers, she goes public with them and so begins her double-life.

The tone of this show is completely unlike that which DC fans might have come to expect, far closer to the Christopher Reeve school of Superman than the Nolan one. As a character, Kara/Supergirl is so full of hope, love and joy that you can’t help but adore her. Yet she also has just enough resentment and longing for her lost home to stop just shy of being annoyingly perfect. There is an edge to her and a fierceness that comes out when needed. She is determined and eager and makes a lot of mistakes along the way.

Despite a lot of positives, the show itself is not quite so sure of itself. It’s a slow-burner, grabbing the reader with the exciting pilot episode but then taking its time as the story progresses. Largely, this is a fun, light-hearted, optimistic show, something suitable for a younger audience or family viewing. And, most of the time, this works. The more emotional moments carry a real impact because they’re usually so unexpected. Tears can start when only a minute or two earlier you were laughing along at something silly. Yet, this light-hearted tone sometimes goes too far. The cheese factor sporadically gets way too intense. The dialogue, the it-will-all-be-OK-because-we’re-being-positive outlook, the we-can-all-be-heroes-too crowd scenes… Sometimes it just becomes too much.

Similarly, the relationships between characters aren’t all as strong as you might hope. Some are so seamless, so beautifully realised that every part of them, every act, every little connection just works. You never doubt it. Cara and her sister, Alex; Alex and her boss, Hank (played superbly by David Harewood!). These are bonds we just understand. However, there are also those that feel just a little too much like a plot point, as if you are taking a happily married couple who would never hurt each other and making them do just that – just to mix things up a bit! It doesn’t always feel as if it’s a natural progression. However, these moments are fortunately few and far between and don’t last very long, so it’s easy enough to let them slide.

As a show, Supergirl has a lot going for it, not least of which is the brilliant supporting cast who each inhabit characters who are well thought out and come with their own nuances. There are complex villains, other not-so-complex villains, and so many secrets between everybody that you’re never entirely sure whose motives you cantrust.

Surrounded by work colleagues, love interests, friends and family, Kara/Supergirl has built a life for herself here on Earth and it is not one she takes lightly. There is nothing complacent about her and, unlike her cousin up in Metropolis, she remembers her life on Krypton and is torn between loyalty to her old home and her new one. Her journey and the decisions she must make along the way make this first season a lovely, smart, enjoyable watch.

One of the major highlights is the cheeky, very contemporary humour. Apart from the hilarious crossover with a certain other comic character, these moments of hilarity are often courtesy of Kara’s boss, Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart on fine form). There’s one in there about Harrison Ford that is sure to make your stomach hurt from the belly laugh!

Like Supergirl herself, this series takes a while to really find its feet and has a fair few stumbles along the way. Yet, when it does work, it’s incredible story-telling. It combines some real sincerity, awesome action, everyday dilemmas, and one kick-arse heroine for a new generation of comic fans. Really, it’s just a welcome reprieve to watch a show so focused on choosing hope over fear. Because we could all use some of that right now.

3-out-of-5

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