TV Review: Stargirl E101 Pilot
Stargirl is the newest DC comic hero to make it to a live-action series and it’s one that’s a bit unexpected. But, from the first few moments of the show beginning, the show not only stands out from what has come before but feels like a welcome improvement.
The show has an almost Disney like feel about it evoking a style and special fx look that’s reminiscent of the string of films based on their popular rides. Through the action, and a brutal fight, we’re delivered an opening that’s exciting and fun with a style unto its own. There’s a “retro” aspect to it with that Disney feel and a bit of Rocketeer thrown in.
The opening is impressive with what feels like high production values and an attention to detail. There’s a lot going on in the chaotic battle but no detail of the costumes falls short and everything looks high quality and well designed evoking the classic designs they’re based off of.
There’s a lot thrown in there to start with the Justice Society of America getting torn apart and destroyed. And despite the seriousness of it all, there’s levity with Joel McHale as Starman delivering some laughs in an otherwise serious moment.
It sets the tone of the show and what’s to come and it’s clearly intentional. From that serious moment the show pivots a bit and Darlene Love’s “Christmas” plays which brought back memories for me of Gremlins and from there some Hanson and “Mmmm Bop.” The show’s playing with some interesting tones and it doesn’t end there.
The show follows Brec Bassinger‘s Courtney Whitmore whose mother, Barabra played by Amy Smart, marries Luke Wilson‘s Pat Dugan, the former partner of Starman. They move to Nebraska where the town is very “white” and mysterious. It sets up an interesting family dynamic and some familial friction. But that white bread vibe of it all also helps the eventual discovery by Courtney of Pat’s past and what he’s been hiding, Starman’s staff.
It too evokes a familiar emotion, one from my childhood of the hero discovering their power or the excitement of meeting that friendly alien. It’s saccharine in a way evoking an innocence that feels almost needed in these rather dark and ominous times. It’s a feel good start that makes all that’s recently come before feel a bit jaded and missing that childlike excitement. It’s a clear goal with hints like the use of the film The Goonies at a drive-in which also shares many of these qualities.
But with that also comes some predictable moments and tropes we’ve seen numerous times. The discovery of the power and its misuse to take on bullies is reminiscent of Peter Parker fighting Flash Thompson in the original Spider-Man. The school bullies and what’s revealed about them too is not too surprising and a bit predictable in many ways.
What’s so interesting about the show is the tone it delivers having as much in common with films like ET and the animated Transformers movie as it does Spider-Man and other teen-focused heroes. There’s a fascinating tone about it all and one that feels like it’s been missing in the current superhero genre.
Stargirl feels like a bit of a throwback in many ways with an innocence about it that’s missing from today’s superhero live-action releases. It really goes for a throwback 80s feel in so many ways and it nails it in so many ways. It’s a show that wants to deliver fun and wonder
Overall Rating: 9.0