TV Review: Stargirl (DC Universe/The CW)

“No! Bad stick, bad!” Stargirl is a 2020 live-action TV show created for the WB and DC by Geoff Johns. Designed by Geoff Johns and Lee Moder as an homage […]

“No! Bad stick, bad!”

Stargirl is a 2020 live-action TV show created for the WB and DC by Geoff Johns. Designed by Geoff Johns and Lee Moder as an homage to John’s teenage sister, Cortney, who died in the TWA flight 800 explosion in 1996, Stargirl (as the second Star-Spangled Kid) first appeared in print in 1999.

In a roundabout fashion, the titular Stargirl was bequeathed her powers by Ted Knight, the first of many characters known as Starman. Created in the first wave of comic book superheroes by Gardner Fox and artist Jack Burnley in 1941, Starman was basically a combination of Flash Gordon and Green Lantern, garbed in a knockoff of Superman’s outfit. Knight, an ambitious and imaginative astronomer/engineer crafted the impossibly phallic ‘Cosmic Rod’ that endowed him with the power of flight and the ability to manipulate certain forms of energy. The rod, transformed into a staff, was passed down to Knight’s children, and ultimately to Courtney in 2003.
The premise is that of a fish-out-of-water city-slicker with secrets, who arrives in a new town in the sticks and attends the high school, only to discover nefarity and ominous peril behind the smiling faces of small-town America.

Stargirl takes its cues from similarly themed shows like the WB’s ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ or Netflix’s ‘Ragnarok’, yet DC’s the crap out of it, marinating it in the comic mythology of the golden age. The production design, costuming, and attention to detail are of high quality, though keen-eyed fans will notice a few things right away that are left hanging, as well as other anomalies, that they’ll hope will be addressed in later episodes.

There are some abrupt, whiplash-inducing tonal shifts and at times the dialogue can be painfully on the nose. The cast, however, led by Amy Smart (Barbara Whitmore) and Luke Wilson (Pat Dugan) handles these permutations well. As Courtney/ Stargirl, Brec Bassinger plays things as straight as the subject matter demands, and yet we are totally down as she mocks the old-timey names ‘Star-Spangled Kid’ and ‘Stripesy’ with a ‘can you BELIEVE this shit?’ attitude, because she can’t and we can’t either. She hits all the right notes as the strange new kid in the strange town with the strange step-father. As the POV character after the cold opening, we’re with her all the way down the rabbit hole, and it’s an enjoyable ride.

Stargirl premieres May 18th on the DC universe, May 19th on the CW.

Many thanks to Warner Brothers Television for allowing me to get chance to watch Stargirl.

About Dan Kleiner

Dan Kleiner is a strange visitor from another planet who resides in Brooklyn, New York with two cats and his amazing girlfriend. When not plotting world domination, he spends a great deal of his time watching movies and anime of all sorts, reading comic-books and book-books, studying politics and history and striving for the day when he graduates as a Class A-Weirdo.