Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Supergirl Season 1 Episode 4 or 5 - "How Does She Do It?"

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was making nobody care how good a show actually is, just how it makes them feel.

Actually, the red button would have just opened the door, but that's okay.

I'm not sure how many episodes we are into Season 1 of Supergirl, but this week's episode "How Does She Do It?" was supposed to be last week's episode, but the episode contained some terrorist-like elements that would have seemed a bit unseemly to use in a show about the world's ginchiest superhero a few days after very real terror attacks that made the news in the same parts of the world where Supergirl is broadcast.

What I do know is that the entire program feels very, very much like it is written by people who absolutely cannot be bothered to think through their own show.  And it is absolutely exhausting to watch a show where it seems like the writers cannot follow logic from Point A to Point B to Point C without then deciding Point 117 comes next.

When Kara is flying a non-nuclear bomb away from the city, right over the ocean, why did the supposedly brainy head of a space-FBI group tell her to "fly up"?  Why not fly down into the ocean, which would absorb the impact of the explosion?  If you graduate high school without knowing that a bomb is more dangerous above a city than at ground level, well, we were probably reading different things in high school.  But it's basic physics and, you know, plenty knowable.

Kara has 30 seconds to save everyone on a robot train from a guy with a vest-bomb, and severs the train, damages the newly installed public transportation, let's the guy die by his own hand - when she could have opened the door and flown him out while removing the bomb from his body?  I mean, she IS Supergirl, and she had half a minute.

Most alarming was that Kara was supposedly taking care of Cat Grant's son, pawned him off on the hapless "Win" almost immediately, and despite the fact she seems to know that Kara totally f'ed up and her son was almost blown up, Kara doesn't take him home.  For some reason Cat doesn't come find her son that evening, she waits not just until the morning, but well after the rest of her staff shows up to come claim her kid.  What did I even miss there?  Were they at CatCo (sigh) all night?  Did the kid shower before school?  Why is he going to school?  Isn't anyone worried about the story he'll tell Cat?  How did this teach him to make a sexy joke about Supergirl's legs?  How is kara not severely reprimanded?  What is even happening?

And, of course, the "Lucy Lane dumps a full two minutes of exposition upon Kara so we don't have to do the work of actually writing troublesome scenes or dialog to show and not tell" that occurs when Lucy just dumps a whole bunch of nonsense on what amounts to an elevator acquaintance.  Also, if she's a military lawyer, where's her uniform?  Why does she have time to show up and walk around a workplace where she doesn't work?

How many extras work at CatCo after all?  There are so many people wandering around all the time.

So many questions.  And so many (I assume unintentionally) goofy things going on.  Heck, when the DEO and Kara agree to split ways and pursue two different bombs, Jamie and I were immediately talking about how they had to get in a pickup truck and shoot out the window at the train/ bombs.  We're still hung up on that from the pilot.

I get that we're talking about a show about a girl who can fly, and I get that we're talking about one aimed, really, at children.  Which is great!

But you can still do your audience a solid by actually spending time thinking things through.  Just because it's a fantasy doesn't mean you don't need for the center to hold.  I think.

I mean, it seems like nobody else really cares about this sort of thing if ratings and online chatter are any indication.  And lord knows the fact that nobody is talking about Fargo and everyone is talking about a highly digestible show like Supergirl is just sort of how these things work.  This isn't exactly news.

We all watch TV for different reasons.  And, from what I gather, a lot of folks really like the positive, can-do spirit of Supergirl.  In general, so do I.  After a decade of DC Comics proper refusing to let comics readers see the sunny side of Supergirl that was part and parcel of Kara Zor-El from her arrival in a purple rocketship in Action 252, it's been great seeing the producers understand the character's appeal as a bright young person finding her place in the world rather than insisting we explore the grim and gritty side of a character who may not have ever been built for the role of "tortured soul".  Supergirl can and should be someone who isn't jaded, has overcome a cataclysmic trauma in large part because she's a positive person.

The show gets that.  And, it gets that wanting to be a good person in the world is both its own force and can throw you off balance when the world doesn't match your expectations.  But it doesn't mean you can't thrive and survive.

It's okay to have Jessica Jones in one corner and Supergirl in another.  They're different characters/ stories/ genres.  I'm glad there's an audience for each and an audience that can embrace both.

I'm just a bit unforgiving when a show as big as Supergirl flubs the basics.  We can agree that it's a positive show and we can (and should) show it to our kids and reliable superhero faire, starring a hero who we would want our kids to emulate.  But what wears me out is that it doesn't feel like the writers can be bothered to focus on the details, and that sort of thing has been the difference between how superheroes were dealt with in 1985 versus how they were dealt with after Spider-Man and X-Men turned the whole idea of superheroes upside down 15 years ago.

I'll admit, I get caught up in shows and movies and will miss continuity errors, bone-headed mistakes and the like.  But when it routinely takes me out of the show, and just feels lazy over and over again, I take notice. I make comment.  It's what I do.

I haven't even taken on some of the actual challenges of the show other than the one note of Cat Grant and the inevitable thawing act if they want to keep her on the show.   There's plenty to process when it comes to the show's strong feminist bent and actually taking on a bit of the generational divide.  I haven't whined too much about the oddly conceived DEO or even Kara's many roles (and that this was the subject of the episode, but one which refused to actually deal with the situation).  The complications of not just Maxwell Lord/ Elon Musk as a villain, but Peter Facanelli seemingly terribly miscast in the part.

If this blog has a point in existing at this point, it's because there's a lot of writing out there by the kids just coming into all this, who are all enthusiasm and excitement, and I was there.  Check out my posts from 2003.  At some point, you get over that, and you actually want this stuff to be, if not your cup of tea, then at least... good.  You want to insist that these superhero stories have merit and they don't just hang on special effects and a borrowed storyline.  This blog is the guy who is maybe past the point where a cape and a comic automatically give everything a pass.

As I say in each write-up, I'd just like to see them try.  I don't think in the 2015 landscape of television you get a participation trophy.  There's too much else out there, and the stakes are too high for a show with this budget.  You're going to need a demographic that expands beyond a cult audience.  And to do that, you're going to do better than iffy dialog and plot holes the size of a small moon.

This will be my last Supergirl write-up, because this isn't actually much fun to do.  I'm not quitting on the show, but I'm kind of done with color commentary on lackluster TV writing.


Kuudere-Kun said...

"The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was making nobody care how good a show actually is, just how it makes them feel."

I feel that could describe fans of the original Star Wars Trilogy well. But it only bugs me when they begin hypocrites and start bashing the Prequels over all the flaws the OT absolutely had in spades.

The League said...

Wow, are you wrong.