During quarantine, we’ve gotten caught up on a few shows, including the summer series from CW, Stargirl. I’m somewhat familiar with Starman, in particular, the nineties comic but this is a new blend from the comics and while not perfect, it packs a punch, Luke Wilson shines, and the ending is the perfect hook to encourage viewers to watch more.
“Stargirl” starring Brec Bassinger as Courtney Whitmore or Stargirl, is based on the DC comics superhero created by Johns and Lee Moder. The series follows high school student Courtney Whitmore who discovers the cosmic staff hidden by her new stepfather, Pat Dugan, and becomes the inspiration for a new group of superheroes who become the new Justice Society of America and fight the Injustice Society.
Courtney moves to Blue Valley with her mother (Meg Delacey), her stepfather, and her stepbrother, Mike Dugan (Trae Romano). When they move, she is chosen by the cosmic staff to become the new wielder, Stargirl. In order to fight the Injustice Society, led by Icicle (Neil Jackson), Courtney recruits her high school friends, Yolanda Montez (Yvette Monreal), Beth Chapel (Anjelika Washington), and Rick Tyler (Cameron Gellman). But the ISA are all adults, have an insidious plan, and have children of their own. The new JSA is untrained and the question becomes if they can develop their abilities in time or if they will lose to the Injustice Society?
While the series starts with Courtney being young and naive, that’s actually an intriguing premise. She has no idea what she’s doing and that causes problems. Pat Dugan, as the sidekick to the previous Starman, tries to teach her and the others but as teenagers are wont to do, they don’t always listen. And sometimes, as with young people everywhere, that works and sometimes it makes the situation worse. But along the way, she bonds with Pat, who is willing to help her fight and the familial bonds are one of the strongest story elements, that she and Pat communicate and fight together. The dynamic between them and the interactions with the other teenagers make this fun and the action sequences are awesome because they are believable.
Normally, in the comics, the powers and fighting skills all come from suddenly having abilities. In the case of these teenage heroes, that’s not the case. Courtney begins as a gymnast and the staff only heightens those abilities. Wildcat is a boxer and has fighting skills already. Hourman only has limited strengths and Dr. Midnite as the person has no fighting abilities but is a tactical computer genius. The realism of their skills is what sets this apart from other shows and makes the action sequences even more powerful.
The dynamics between the characters are well written as well. Pat and Courtney don’t always get along but they do have an authentic relationship, especially for a new stepfather and daughter. The family is important too. Mike has resentments because of his new sister and Courtney’s mother is concerned about how she is doing in her school and town. And her new friends don’t always get along with Courtney but have their own reasons for helping her with her mission. I also like that the villains aren’t black and white, but have valid reasons and family, aren’t just caricatures.
If there is a flaw, it’s that the best acting is Luke Wilson. The acting improves over the course of the season, the younger actors improve but there are times when the performances are flatter than you’d like. But Luke Wilson does an incredible job, the main villain Icicle is superb, and those teenagers kick butt as the season continues. The best part for us, though, is the surprising resolution at the end of the season. While some of it is predictable, the superhero genre has some tropes it has to follow, but this show has a major intriguing hook at the end that is guaranteed to bring us back next season.
Even though it is a short season, I highly recommend Stargirl. We really enjoyed it, loved the action, the blending of the old Justice Society with the new group, especially with the overtone of the fifties comics, and that hook at the end is one of the best ways I’ve seen to set up for a next season while still providing a clear resolution to the current story.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.