World's Finest Cousin
Season 1 Review
It may take a while to get through the cloying and infinitely clumsy pro-feminist vibe pervading the first clutch of episodes, but eventually Supergirl stands on its own two feet.In an age when one of the biggest franchises on the planet can be driven by an unknown teen actress in THE lead Jedi role (and that’s not to mention the likes of the Hunger Games and Divergent franchises, nor the upcoming Star Wars spin-off Rogue One), it feels almost antiquated to watch a series where almost every single female character needs to shout and cry about how hard it is being a woman in a man’s world, and almost every single male character feels the need to tell any and every women they face – including even the ones who have super powers – that they should just go back to doing a more appropriate job for a woman, like making coffee. It’s painfully contrived, and often contradictory, and makes absolutely no sense both in and out of the show. These are not bold, revelatory statements against the state of the world as it is today; against the harassed, beleaguered sex who struggle to co-exist when surrounded by Neanderthals. These kinds of storylines and scripts shouldn’t have passed quality control twenty years – or longer – ago, and so listening to them in 2016 is cloying to say the least.However, despite the fact that the first few episodes are almost packed to the brim with such inane dialogue, the ultra-pro-feminist slant slowly wears off, and the actual story – and Supergirl herself – eventually gets the opportunity to define itself as something other than a symbol against the prejudice of mankind. And, when that happens, Supergirl does transform, almost unknowingly, into a good TV show, with interesting, watchable characters, breezy but warm dialogue, suitably Kryptonian mythology, and more than enough overarching story punch to drive through an entire 20-episode first season. Whilst I can see completely why the viewers dropped like flies after just a couple of episodes of this show, if you stick with it, you’ll find it immensely rewarding, and you’ll find Melissa Benoist’s dazzling protagonist a compelling character in her own right, far from cast in the shadow of her more famous and more popular cousin, and able to command her own mini-universe of averted disasters, alien threats, Kryptonian invaders, military conspirators and (super-)friend, family and workplace woes.
Picture QualityThe 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation often has more problems with its own source material than with its presentation – with almost every scene with an ageing but indisputably attractive Calista Flockhart tinged with softness, soft focus, shiny makeup and sometimes even a strange aura which makes it look like Ally McBeal’s older self is glowing, and even a couple of the effects sequences highlight the limitations of the budget (which clearly wasn’t insignificant, but still has a couple of dodgy moments).
These kinds of stylistic choices aside, detail is otherwise pretty good – albeit within the confines of that trademark CBS sheen – with the younger cast certainly showcasing finer skin textures up close and intimate, and scarred supervillains, alien creatures and most of the effects work promoted impressively. The colour scheme is broad and deeply entrenched in primaries – only expectedly so – but there are plenty of darker sequences which also stand up, offering rich blacks and explosive yellows and oranges against these backdrops.
Although somewhat worryingly cramming over 800 minutes of footage onto just 3 discs, Supergirl still looks largely excellent.
This isn’t the quality of some of the best TV shows out there – it seldom comes close to movie quality, and certainly seems happy to subsist in its marginally dated TV environment, but it’s certainly not a problematic presentation, and arguably looks far better than you might expect from such an innately limited bitrate crammed-disc offering.
Sound QualityOn the aural front, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is far easier to unreservedly appreciate.
Right from the opening theme track – which, whilst not as memorable as any more traditional Superman motifs, is still a strong theme – Supergirl makes an aural impression. Dialogue remains well-prioritised across the frontal array, whilst the effects, large and small, are well observed and distinctly disseminated across the broader surround spectrum.
Whether significant room-shaking explosions, thundering gunfire, crashes involving planes, trains and automobiles, or super-powered skirmishes, the track delivers some not insignificant punch, and a fair amount of precision too. Supergirl’s powers, and her one-on-ones with other super beings get given just the right amount of impact, and, with a strong score bringing up the rear, this is a very good, frequently demo quality offering.
ExtrasAlthough crammed onto three discs, they still make room for a few extras.
Headlined by a series of Featurettes, including the 10 minute A World Left Behind: Krypton, which looks at the planet and its role in the series, and the 10 minute The Man From Mars, which looks behind one of the best reveals of the series, as well as a 15 minute look behind the Comic-Con 2015 Supergirl Panel, the discs are rounded off by a 4 minute Gag Reel and a number of Deleted Scenes, spread out across the discs, with almost every other episode having at least one additional or extended scene.
VerdictA shaky start doesn't stop this developing into a worthwhile watch.
Indeed it's a shame that some of the cringeworthy dialogue spread across the first half a dozen episodes may have turned off a number of viewers (to the point where the show was facing cancellation, and had to be bought up by another network to proceed to a second season); the reality is that once Supergirl gets going, it proves to be an engaging and addictive little superhero show with all the fun of Superman and a whole new universe of characters (old and new) to explore. This Blu-ray release crams all 20 episodes of the first season onto 3 discs but the picture quality doesn't noticeably suffer, and the sound is fantastic, with a nice selection of additional features rounding out a solid release.
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.