Monday, September 28, 2020

TV Show Review: Stargirl - Season 1

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Charming superhero show
Cons: Slow to start; Courtney’s attitude at times
The Bottom Line:
Teen superhero
A bit slower paced story
But it drew me in

Has Courtney Discovered Her Legacy?

Clearly, I need more superhero TV shows in my life.  (Actually, when I think of the superhero shows I’m not watching, it’s kind of scary since they already make up so much of my viewing.)  To be honest, I’m not sure I would have started watching Stargirl if it had premiered in the fall or even the spring as originally planned.  But by the time it premiered this last May, I knew I’d want something fresh to watch over the summer, so I gave it a try.  I’m really glad I did.

This show focuses on Courtney (Brec Bassinger), a typical teenager who has just moved to Nebraska when her mom, Barbara (Amy Smart) marries Pat (Luke Wilson).  In addition to a step-father, she’s also gotten a new step-brother, Mike (Trae Romano).  Everyone is starting a new life in a small town, but Courtney is the least happy about everything.

All that changes when she discovers Pat’s secret.  Many years ago, he was the assistant for a league of superheroes, the Justice Society of America, until the night they were killed by the Injustice Society.  This happened on the very night the Courtney’s father disappeared.  Pat has kept many of the items from the Justice Society that gave them their powers.

And it’s the staff that belonged to Starman that responds to Courtney.  The staff that had no life in it suddenly glows and flies.  Courtney takes it as a sign that she is Starman’s daughter, and begins to try to fulfil her destiny with Pat’s very reluctant help.  It’s just in time since it appears their new town is where the Injustice Society has been in hiding, working on building things to execute their new plan.  Will Courtney be able to stop them?

Of course, Courtney does recruit a few new members to the team, but I will leave it for you to meet them along the way.

The show unfolds at its own pace, and at times it is slower than the superhero shows I’ve been used to watching (which are themselves slower than superhero movies).  I really noticed this near the end of the season when we got some acts that stayed with one character instead of intercutting several character’s scenes.  We also got fewer scenes per act, which really allowed the characters to be developed or the action to unfold.  Sometimes, I felt the show was a little too slow, but overall I found this a nice change, and I enjoyed seeing just how everything played out.  It also allowed for stronger scenes for the characters at times, which I really enjoyed.

But make no mistake about it, the show knows it is a superhero show.  We get action, and we get special effects.  Those are both great.  The action scenes are well thought out, and I bought the special effects I was seeing on the screen.

As the season went along, the plot threads that the show put in place began to pick up, and I got more and more drawn into each episode.  They did a great job of building that suspense and paying it off in the final episodes.

My biggest frustration was Courtney herself.  She was reckless much of the season, and even as she begins to recruit others to join her, she just felt like she wasn’t ready to work as a team.  While some of that was good character development, I do hope they have moved beyond that when season 2 premiers.

Without getting too spoilery, I will say I was surprised by what the Injustice Society’s ultimate goal was.  But that’s all I will say about it.

The show had a serious tone overall, but it mixed in some great humor.  They were all moments that wouldn’t work out of context, but in the moment, they were brilliant.

Season one was designed to have thirteen episodes.  It is unusual because the episodes take place over the fall, so we have a Halloween episode and Christmas shows up before the season is over.  Yet I don’t believe the show was ever going to air over the course of the fall (I may be misremembering at this point).  It felt weird seeing these holiday episodes in the middle of the summer.  Of course, now that the show is out on DVD and Blu-Ray, that doesn’t matter as much.  Anyway, these thirteen episodes tell a complete story yet leave us very anxious to find out what is going to happen next.

The other superhero shows I watch are all part of the Arrowverse, the term coined for Arrow and its direct spinoff shows.  While from the same production team and airing on the CW, this show doesn’t directly tie into those shows – yet.  I could see it happening in the future, but for now, this show stands completely on its own.

I’m glad I gave Stargirl’s first season a chance.  The show really grew on me, and I’m anxious to see where things go in the next season, currently slated to air next year.

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