Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Stargirl - Pilot

For as many super-hero shows that have been produced over the past decade it's odd that Stargirl is the first to center around a single teen protagonist rather than your usual twenty or thirty-somethings. Despite opening with the deaths of multiple heroes, the pilot episode offers a bit of a lighter touch than we've seen in recent years focusing on the upheaval of Courtney Whitmore's (Brec Bassinger) life as her family leaves Los Angeles for a new life in Nebraska. There's plenty of cliche here, both in the depiction of Midwestern hospitality and in high school life, but when the show focuses on super-heroes it finds its groove. The first character we're introduced to isn't Courtney, but her new stepfather (Luke Wilson) who a decade ago was the sidekick for the dying Starman (Joel McHale) who entrusts his cosmic staff to Pat, suggesting someone other than Pat (really, anyone but Pat) might one day be chosen.

The staff, given personality by the show's writers, is one of the show's unexpected surprises. Setting up a backstory of Courtney as a gymnast also helps explain her quick understanding of how to acrobatically use the staff when it prompts her into action. As for villains, the only one we see in both the flashback and present day (which has quite the 60s vibe) is Brainwave (Christopher James Baker). We're also introduced to the villain's son (Jake Austin Walker), a high school bully who Courtney tangles with on her first day. Other villains making an appearance in the show's opening sequence include members of the Injustice Society: the Wizard (Joe Knezevich), Sportsmaster (Neil Hopkins), Solomon Grundy, and Icicle (Neil Jackson). Just why the show's villains, after defeating the world's greatest heroes, have apparently going into retirement is one of several mysteries the "Pilot" leaves unanswered. Another would be the fates of those heroes not shown on screen in the culling of the JSA.

Along with putting the staff in Courtney's hands and offering her first encounter with a super-villain, the episode also features the first appearance of S.T.R.I.P.E. setting the stage for another confrontation with her stepfather and more backstory about the world's heroes and villains. The powered armor looks pretty good on the show's budget, as do the effects of the staff. If the show stumbles in its early development, I would expect it to come in the melodrama of Courtney's home or school life. Given the teases DC and The WB have already put out, it appears that the First Season will involve Courtney creating a new JSA team of younger members. Given Sportsmaster's existence on this Earth, I wonder if we might get to see Stephanie Brown at some point (preferably as Batgirl). Although we don't see her in full costume here, the episode does feature several boldly dressed heroes and villains as it appears (at least initially) that Stargirl will be less shy about embracing the comic book style of its universe.

No comments: