Friday, October 28, 2016

Here's the verdict on The CW's 'Supergirl' three episodes in …

"What about us? You can look like her. A lot of aliens can't. People in this world don't have much respect for others (who) look different. I say that as an alien and someone who's chosen the form of a black man for 15 years." — J'onn 'J'onzz 

The beauty of great fiction is that the author reveals greater truths and certainly the deepest journey of the human experience in a world of make-believe.

Monday's "Supergirl" episode hit that right out of the park. Look deeper than Lynda Carter as Madam President (as in the President — and looking as great and being as classy as ever!) and the introduction of yet another Batman-universe supporting character (Detective Maggie Sawyer) and the "Star Wars"/"Men in Black"-esque "safe haven" for aliens and even Kara Danvers' on-the-job-training to be a reporter (the only way to truly "get" the career I've had for 13 years) and even Sawyer being a "non-white" lesbian who didn't fit into Nebraska.

"Supergirl" is about acceptance, diversity and affirmation. It always has been. Monday's episode was centered on giving others second chances and not rushing to judgment.

And isn't that something we should all do? Wouldn't that make the world turn a bit more smoothly?

Acceptance, diversity and affirmation are all things we can learn – and should embrace. "Supergirl" — whether it was Season 1 on CBCS or now on The CW — teaches great life lessons.

The series is simply life-affirming. There are insights into being a better person in each and every episode, yet the series never feels like "a very special episode" or corny Hallmark Channel movie. And "Supergirl" always manages to do so without being preachy.

Ever since the original "Star Trek" series, genre fans have faced topical issues facing the contemporary world — while being entertained in a science fiction setting. "Supergirl" is just continuing that storytelling tradition.

Now a few words on Tyler Hoechlin as Superman in the first two episodes.

Being an outsider is integral to the Superman mythology. Kal-El's life of being a literal alien, or even the ultimate immigrant, is one that speaks to diversity, not to mention acceptance.

Supergirl's continuity is largely derivative of her cousin's; the TV series has tackled that head-on as part of Kara's journey. That's why "Supergirl" is great viewing for young girls through young adult women or really, any of us who struggle with her or his place in the world.

The Man of Steel's appearances are a breath of fresh air. It's about time we see a noble and likable live-action Superman. Hoechlin doesn't have the Certain Something that that late Christopher Reeve or even Brandon Routh (now playing Ray Palmer/Atom on "DC's Legends of Tomorrow"), but he works. His Superman and Clark Kent work because the characterization resonates with the best of the comics, other TV series and Reeve's films.

Hoechlin's Superman is easy to like; I mean, how can't you dig a Man of Steel who winks at the National City residents he just saved? Or a Kent who has to explain outdated phrases to editor Perry White? Unlike Henry Cavill's "Snyderverse" film version, this Superman isn't afraid to smile or express an emotion beyond grim determination.

Other characters like Superman; they look up to him and respect him. In the Snydeverse, Cavill's Man of Steel is misunderstood and not trusted. Superman's likability is contagious, providing some nice character moments: Winn getting all fanboy giddy just being around Supes — just like Supergirl does about Carter's President; and Alex Danvers (the perpetually hot and ass-kickin' Chyler Leigh) thinking Superman smells good.

Most importantly, Superman's two appearances (so far!) on the series don't overshadow his cousin. In fact, it's Supes who tells Supergirl it's OK not have everything figured out (an ongoing theme in "Supergirl"), that it will come with time and he too has to find a way to juggle his two identities and all his responsibilities. Kal-El, after all, has all kinds of problems playing nice with J'onn 'J'onzz (the intense, but also relatable David Harewood) — but really that's the other way around.

Not surprisingly, Superman and the Martian Manhunter find a way to overcome their differences (which I expect to be explored later) because they realize collaborating serves the greater good for Metropolis and National City. And how cool was it to see Kara and Alex team up against a baddie just as Superman and J'onn 'J'onzz put a smackdown on another one!

The big reveal at the end of Monday's episode wasn't just a short fangasm. Introducing "the last daughter of Mars" no doubt will teach the Martian Manhunter a thing or two about acceptance and fitting in. Or maybe that's the other way around … Grade: A

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