Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this article. The opinions I share are my own.
The first season of CBS’s Supergirl arrives on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download this week. The 20 episodes set up the titular character just as she becomes a superhero, introducing us to her life both with and without the cape. It’s a rollicking fun time, and while it doesn’t quite hit the quality of some of the other DC Comics shows on the air right now, it is far better than what the comic brand is churning out for the big screen.
Glee‘s Melissa Benoist stars as Kara Danvers, a.k.a. Kara Zor-El, a.k.a. Supergirl, a young woman who has been living on Earth for awhile after her home planet was destroyed. Having had plenty of time to adjust to her new home, Kara is an adult as the series begins, working as an assistant for media mogul Kat Grant (Calista Flockhart, Brothers & Sisters, Ally McBeal) and trying to start a career. This is somewhat derailed when Kara finds she can no longer sit still, creating a costume with the help of her best friend, Winn (Jeremy Jordan, Smash), and saving the day. These actions gets her noticed by the DEO, a military organization devoted to protecting the planet from aliens, and which secretly employs her sister, Alex (Chyler Leigh, Grey’s Anatomy). But even after joining up with DEO leader Hank Henshaw (David Harewood, Homeland) and his crew, Kara manages to balance both lives, a modern woman who can have it all.
The girl vs. woman issue is addressed head-on in episode one. Supergirl is a show to which no feminist should object. Kara is strong, independent, and fierce. She’s also brave and loyal and very capable. The only other character that even comes close to her level of accomplishment is Cat herself, so strong females are well represented on the series, lest anyone think the title is a step backwards for the fairer sex.
Sadly, since production is moving to Canada, Cat will be a less frequent presence in season two, which is a shame because Cat and Kara’s relationship is pretty much a linchpin of the show.
Unlike Superman, her already famous and successful cousin, Kara was old enough to remember their world of Krypton when it was destroyed, which influences the way she sees the world, as well as her hopes and dreams. Due to a flight into the Phantom Zone, Kara’s arrival on Earth (and waking up for her pod to begin aging again) was delayed awhile. Unfortunately, when she arrived, she brought the horrible prisoners of Fort Rozz with her, including her Aunt Astra (Laura Benanti, Go On) and Uncle Non (Chris Vance, Transporter: The Series). This sets the stage for the baddies Kara will face in her new crusade.
There are a lot of fun bits for those already familiar with the world of Superman. While the Man of Steel himself only makes fuzzy and at-a-distance appearances (though he has recently been cast for season two), we see the likes of The Martian Manhunter (no spoilers), Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli, Nurse Jackie, Twilight), Lucy Lane (Jenna Dewan Tatum, Witches of East End), and Sam Lane (Glenn Morshower, Bloodline) in this series. Not to mention, Jimmy, sorry, James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks, Necessary Roughness) is a main character and love interest. There are also tributes to previous Superman and Supergirl incarnations, such as casting former Clark Kent, Dean Cain, and former Kara Danvers, Helen Slater, as Kara’s parents. So I appreciate the tributes paid.
But Supergirl is also its own world. It’s very clearly not the same universe as the recent DC films are set in, nor is it on the same Earth as the CW shows take place on. Thanks to a multiple Earths theory, DC has the freedom to portray lots of different versions of the same characters and places at the same time. Which doesn’t prevent a guest appearance from The Flash‘s dimension-hopping Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), nor preclude more crossovers with its small screen peers after Supergirl moves to the CW this fall.
So, while the series starts out as too case-of-the-week, and while it ends with some exaggerated and easy outs, most of this run is pretty good. It’s easy to root for Kara and her friends, and I like the positive approach and outlook the series supports. I look forward to seeing where future seasons go, and can recommend this first season without hesitation.
On The Complete First Season, we get a fair amount of extras. A pair of ten-minute featurettes reveal how the show approached their version of Krypton and The Martian Manhunter, two wonderful elements in the story. We also get a too-short look at the cast attending Comic-Con, a gag reel, and deleted scenes for almost half of the episodes. My complaints are the very outdated menus and the extra padding at the start and end of every deleted scene. But other than that, it’s a decent batch of bonus material.
Supergirl – The Complete First Season is available now.