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TV Review: Stargirl E102 S.T.R.I.P.E.

Stargirl

Stargirl featured a solid debut that dripped with nostalgia and saccharine sweetness. The second episode picks things up quickly as Pat explains to Courtney about the Injustice Society of America and we get hints as to why the Injustice Society is all in one small town.

What’s briefly mentioned feels like something we’ve seen so many times before but it works and explains a Pollyanna-ish town.

What the episode does right, and right away, is to continue the dynamic between Pat and Courtney. There’s something that really clicks and works between Luke Wilson’s Pat and Brec Bassinger’s Courtney. They’ve got a timing that plays off each other and moments, like when they both say they hurt themselves on the stairs, really plays off their dynamic which relies heavily on humor.

And that goes into the humor of the show. Much like the debut episode, the second has a lighthearted sense about it. That’s best shown in Pat getting S.T.R.I.P.E. to work in a sequence full of fantastic moments. We also get the segment of Courtney creating her costume which breaks the mold of the sequence going smoothly, takes on stereotypes of women, and also is just funny. Both segments really set up the tone of the show which tends to be a bit less serious than other DC live-action shows.

That sequence, like so much else of the show, really highlights the production value of the show. S.T.R.I.P.E. looks really great, so much so I’d love to see segments in how they put it together. There’s also something very “Iron Giant” about it, again tapping into nostalgia.

What the episode also does it set up the future. There are moments that feel like they foreshadow future threats once the Injustice Society is defeated. It’ll be a while before we see how that plays out and most likely won’t happen until a second season.

The episode continues the solid start of the pilot delivering humor and entertaining moments. There’s a good blending of the superhero genre with that of a small town setting. And, while it hints as to why everything has come to this one point, what is teased works and makes sense.

In the end though, what the episode really does is surprise. While there’s so much nostalgia, Stargirl flying by the moon is very ET, what’s said and where the episode goes is unexpected. The finale of the episode isn’t the direction that one would think the series would go. It ends on an interesting moment, not just for Brainwave, but also for the relationship between Courtney and Pat.

Stargirl isn’t the best comic adaptation that has been done for live-action but there’s an enthusiasm and innocence about it that’s unmatched. It’s hard to not just smile and enjoy the series.

Overall Rating: 8.5

TV Review: Stargirl E101 Pilot

Stargirl

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

Stargirl Gets Its First Official Trailer

The CW has released a trailer for Stargirl. The show will air the day after on The CW after its initial debut on the DC Universe digital service.

Executive produced by showrunner and character creator Geoff Johns, Stargirl follows Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger), a high schooler who is forced to relocate from Los Angeles to Blue Valley, Nebraska after her mother re-marries. She discovers her new step-father Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson) used to be Stripesy, the sidekick of JSA Member Starman (Joel McHale). Starman’s staff isn’t supposed to work for anyone except for him, but it does for Courtney.

Courtney decides to take up the mantle of Starman as Stargirl but Pat comes out of retirement as the 15-foot robot Stripesy.

The show will debut in early 2020.

TV Review: The X-Files S10E2 Founder’s Mutation

The X-FilesWhen a scientist suddenly commits suicide, Mulder and Scully investigate what unseen force may have driven him to it. What they uncover is a laboratory where extreme genetic experimentation has been going on for decades, breeding subjects who possess unexpected and dangerous powers – and who harbor deep resentments.

The X-Files second episode of its tenth season moves the series’ formula back to its more entertaining monster of the week formula while also attempting to tie that in to the new conspiracy that Fox Mulder is convinced is the reality of his quest.

The episode has issues much like the first with the first half feeling more like a reason to discuss Dana Scully and Mulder’s past and their child together. The overarching episode feels more like an attempt to wrap up, or at least address, a plot line from the previous series to keep fans settled.

The episode has to do with with the death of a scientist, which leads the two agents to explore children with diseases and deformities, which creates a connect the dots investigation where one clue leads to another and then another, without much big picture investigating.

The ending though is where the episode really goes off the rails with a weird mix of the X-Men and Carrie. The powers don’t seem to be consistent throughout the story, and the acting and fx towards the end are rather cheesy.

Much like the first episode, the acting is all over the place where it feels like some of the classic characters, and at other times Duchovny and Anderson feel like they’re phoning it in for a paycheck. It’s been so long since I watched the original series, I can’t say if this is par for the course or not. But, through my hazy memory, I remember it being better.

While as a fan I’m happy that The X-Files are back, I just wish the quality was a bit higher.

Overall Rating: 6.5

TV Review: The X-Files S10E1 My Struggle

The X-FilesThis 2016 pilot reintroduces “The X-Files” and reunites Agent Mulder with Dana Scully after the collapse of their relationship when Mulder is engaged by a TV host. Mulder proclaims new evidence that alien abductions have been faked.

Before I get in to my review of the return of The X-Files, I think it’s important to lay out how big this series was in my life. I was a diehard from the beginning watching every episode when they aired, usually getting together with friends for parties.

Its been a long time since the series last aired on television and even before the series ended, there was some time before the series was really solid. But, with the state of the world, it seems like a perfect time to return to the conspiracy filled world of Fox Mulder and the skeptic that is Dana Scully.

This new season twists the formula a little bit, updating the alien conspiracy to modern times through the plot device of Tad O’Malley, an Alex Jones conspiracy theory loving television personality played by Joel McHale. O’Malley reaches out to Mulder about what he’s convinced is a conspiracy to take over the country (or world) by a cabal of individuals. And here’s the first issue of the show, Mulder jumps in to the conspiracy a bit too easy twisting what he knows and has seen to fit what O’Malley is selling. Mulder hasn’t grown, and in fact might have taken quite a few steps back since we last saw him.

It’s not just that jump that’s the only issue. Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully and David Duchovny as Fox Mulder feel a bit worn and weary throughout the first three quarters of the first episode. It isn’t until an interesting twist where the characters, and actors themselves, perk up and begin to be enjoyable again.

The great is the series does not update itself much. There is some updated special fx, but like the opening credits, the series is very much a throwback in many ways. Much like the characters, it all feels familiar, like settling in with an old friend.

Much like one of the tag lines says, “I Want to Believe,” but I’m not completely sold on the conspiracy quite yet.

Overall Rating: 7.1