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Stargirl Pilot Review – Is It Stream-Worthy?

Promo poster for STARGIRL starring Brec Bassinger and Luke Wilson courtesy of DC Universe / The CW.

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When the Golden Age superhero group the Justice Society of America (JSA) falls, their leader Starman (Joel McHale) passes his Cosmic Staff to his sidekick Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson) to find a rightful successor.

Ten years later, Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger), Dugan’s stepdaughter accidentally discovers the staff and activates its dormant powers.

Will she be able to take up the mantle of Stargirl?

 

Executive producer Geoff Johns, the highly esteemed DC comic book writer responsible for renowned storylines such as the Flashpoint crossover event, created the character Stargirl to honor his late sister Courtney.

Stargirl who debuted in the first issue of Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. in 1999 has been a relative fixture in DC Comics, and boasts membership in several superhero teams including the JSA, Young Justice, Suicide Squad and the Justice League itself.

Johns’ treatment of the character has always had a personal skew for him, but he has always done it with respect to the integrity of DC lore, and this is what makes Stargirl as a show most intriguing – Johns knows the source material by heart.

Therefore, he will likely pour his heart into this project.

 

Stargirl and S.T.R.I.P.E. had a cameo on the hit series Justice League Unlimited.

 

During the pilot episode, nods to the comic book were littered from the beginning with the Golden Age JSA battling to the death with the Injustice Society, and it ends with a teaser for Dugan’s superhero persona/robot armor S.T.R.I.P.E. (Special Tactics Robotic Integrated Power Enhancer).

McHale’s brief performance as Starman was particularly notable as he reluctantly hands Wilson’s character his staff.

As Starman falls in battle in the arms of Dugan, he asks him to find a worthy successor while comically reiterating “Definitely not you.”

For over ten years, Dugan was either unsuccessful or unwilling to impart the powerful relic from his dead friend to another, and this begins the story of Stargirl.

 

The show is set in the fictional Blue Valley, Nebraska where Dugan along with his son Mike (Trae Romano), wife Barbara Whitemore (Amy Smart), and stepdaughter Courtney move from California to look for a fresh start as a family.

The cinematography and soundtrack of the show elicit an old-timey vibe when the scene shifts to Nebraska, and it’s reminiscent of Marty McFly going back in time on Back to the Future.

There’s even a great scene highlighting the difference in culture between California and Nebraska when the Whitemore-Dugans walk around town, and people greet them with a smile.

As Mike and Courtney are bewildered by what they see as odd behavior from strangers, Dugan and Barbara reply plainly, “They’re just being friendly.”

 

When the step-siblings have their first-days at school, Mike integrates among the nerdy click fairly well, and claims they have more time for video games because there’s nothing to do in Nebraska.

Meanwhile, Courtney struggles as she finds out there is no gymnastics team, and she quickly finds herself on the “loser” table with a bully immediately picking on her.

The new high school scenes are as cliche’ as they come, and is a far too familiar a trope as any, but it’s the pilot so it’s a forgivable bit for now.

As it turns out, the bully Henry (Jake Austin Walker) is the son of Dr. Henry King, Sr. / Brainwave (Christopher James Baker), and Courtney encounters both after inadvertently awakening the Cosmic Staff.

Moreover, this version of the Cosmic Staff has limited sentience, similar to Doctor Strange’s Cloak of Levitation in the 2016 film, and is a unique trait that’s never been used in past incarnations.

Courtney Whitemore (Brec Bassinger) holds the Cosmic Staff for the first time. STARGIRL / The CW.

Where will the show go moving forward?

The main drive of the Stargirl character has always been to bring the glory of the JSA back to contemporary times, and during the pilot, the pieces of the story were put into place with an enjoyable tone.

Luke Wilson brings his comedic chops to support the fresh face of Brec Bassinger as a teenage female superhero lead, which is uncharted territory for the most part.

The chemistry between Wilson and Bassinger is already filled with humor and heart, and it’s a stepfather-daughter relationship that could be interesting to watch as it evolves.

However, the teenage demographic might be a tough audience to crack since there is a myriad of shows available on several streaming services already, and though there is a place for teenage superheroes, based on the recent successes of Young Justice, Titans, and Cloak and Dagger, Stargirl could be lost in the shuffle.

Because unlike those aforementioned shows, Stargirl, relatively speaking is less dark, less mature, and seems a bit too old-fashioned, which is exactly the point of the character in the first place, and it could either work for or against the show’s success.

 

VERDICT: Probably not worth streaming – for now.

Stargirl seems to want to pay homage to the Golden Age of Comic Books, and in doing so has set itself apart from other contemporary teenage drama shows that seem to always want to subvert expectations and desecrate long-standing sacred source material – looking at you Riverdale and Titans.

The problem is though, it plays like a familiar movie we’ve all seen a million times, and is it worth seeing the same movie again over the course of a series-long narrative?

True, the characters are relatively new to the average viewer, but the encompassing premise is simply not.

Nevertheless, Geoff Johns’ personal pet project started off well, its cinematography is excellent, and has definitely done the source material justice (pun intended).

In the meantime, unless you’re a fan of the comic or simply want to support a likely groundbreaking female teenage superhero lead of our time, then streaming Stargirl might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

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Lorenz Bacani is a pop-culture enthusiast who's trying to watch as many good comic-book movies and TV shows as superhumanly possible. He received a bachelor's degree in Journalism and New Media at California Baptist University. Wrote for a news tabloid, worked for a couple of non-profits, and dabbled in some photography (mostly for Instagram purposes). He is probably currently binge-watching an old TV show for nostalgia.

Chicago Med

Did Dr. Zola Ahmad Leave ‘Chicago Med’ Already?

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Did Dr. Zola Ahmad Leave 'Chicago Med' Already?

Chicago Med introduced a new third-year resident to the fold in season 9—Zola Ahmad played by The Wilds’ Sophia Ali.

Ahmad’s character was initially described as “impulsive” and a troublemaker who tends to cause “headaches” for her Gaffney Medical fellows, which we saw play out in real-time when her unconventional approaches rubbed Crockett Marcel (Dominic Rains) the wrong way.

Marcel tried to give Ahmad the benefit of the doubt on numerous occasions, and Sharon Goodwin (S. Epatha Merkerson) even acknowledged that she was taking a big chance by hiring her on a prohibitionary basis given her track record with previous hospitals—but ultimately, Ahmad’s behavior and decisions to overstep and not follow protocol got the best of her.

When Ahmad decided to declare a patient—letting the fact that he wasn’t a good man dictate her reasoning—dead prematurely (and then attempted to justify it), nearly killing him, Dr. Archer (Steven Weber) chose to suspend her. It was very obviously a fireable offense, so it’s a good thing that the series writers held her accountable. Plus, it seemed like the perfect chance for a teachable moment and a redemption arc, not to mention, there was definitely some chemistry with Ahmad and Crockett that could’ve been explored down the line. She had potential as a character at Med, if she just reeled it in a little bit—and that would’ve been interesting to explore on a more granular level.

However, by Chicago PD Season 9 Episode 9, it was over for Ahmad. 

Did Dr. Zola Ahmad Leave 'Chicago Med' Already?

CHICAGO MED — “A Penny for your Thoughts, Dollar for your Dreams” Episode 9008 — Pictured: (l-r) Sophia Ali as Dr. Zola Ahmad, Dominic Rains as Dr. Crockett Marcel — (Photo by: George Burns Jr/NBC)

The series seemingly listened to the Chi-Hards fanbase as Ahmad paid the ultimate price for her reckless decision; Goodwin very briefly (and in passing) informed Crockett that Ahmad was let go, something he called a “shame.”

And that was that. There was no further mention of it, nor is there any indication that she’ll return anytime in the future. Her final episode of the season was listed as Chicago Med Season 9 Episode 8—and it seems like she’ll just be a blip on the radar of the show’s long-running tenure. 

It’s a drastic decision for the series, especially after hyping up Ali’s character at the beginning of the season. Why wouldn’t they give her arc a proper conclusion? Many of the complaints from the fan base were that her character was written inconsistently—her intentions were good most of the time, it was the execution that suffered—and crammed into an already shortened season due to COVID, so they weren’t able to build her character up in a way that would’ve given her the necessary nuance; her portrayal was overly negative and it was hard to defend her actions or keep her around when each week, she was pushing buttons and creating unnecessary issues without having the tenure to excuse them or back her up, like her predecessors Will Will (Nick Gehlfuss) and Natalie (Torrey Devitto). When those two acted irrationally back in the day, they had a history with Med and Goodwin that allowed them to stir the pot. 

It seems that the writing was on the wall for Ahmad from the get-go—the lack of good character development in the writing sealed her fate prematurely and gave fans whiplash with her quick arrival and departure. 

Would you like to see her return to the series?

Vanessa Morgan Is Finally Getting the Recognition She Deserves With ‘Wild Cards’

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Editorials

Walker Season 4 Premiere Review – The Quiet

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Walker Season 4 Premiere Review - The Quiet

Walker returned to The CW for its 4th, and, likely final, season. 

Despite a 5-month time jump, the focus remained on serial killer Jackal, whom Walker and Trey were pursuing at the end of season 3, and the suspect that previously drove Cap. Larry James into a tailspin, effectively ending his marriage to Kelly before fate gave them another shot. 

Only this time around, Larry’s wife, Kelly, asks Cordell not to drag her husband down this road again—a promise he intends to upkeep, though, knowing Larry, he’ll figure out that his rangers are up to something and have no other choice but to get involved, especially since Trey’s tip for a detective reveals that Jackal, whose trail previously went cold for several months, is gearing up for “something big.”

This will be the overarching mystery of the season, while other weekly cases will also see our rangers getting into plenty of shenanigans, as they did with their pursuit of the Delmonico brothers. Also, props to all of them for taking part in a steak-eating competition and then jumping into a raid. It was bold of them, but it’s how Cordell wanted to spend his birthday, so I’m glad that despite the best-laid plans being uprooted, he was still able to feel the love from those around him.

A lot seems to have changed in the past five months, as evidenced by Walker and Geri’s steamy hook-up. Even when everything is going wrong, we can have faith in their love being a constant, which is what fans have been hoping for since season 1. 

There’s also Cassie, who blows back into town after taking a lengthy leave to go work for the FBI. She’s back with a newfound confidence about her abilities on the job, but she’s also struggling with a personal decision as she’s been offered a spot at Quantico, which means further uprooting her life and leaving behind her loved ones, er, Trey. 

Yeah, Trey and Cassie kind of addressed the elephant in the room—their feelings for each other—but neither of them was honest about it, so we’ll likely get something more truthful and heartfelt in the near future. 

Another lingering storyline is the break-in at Geri’s place that rattled Stella to her core. She hasn’t been the same since shooting and killing Witt, and it’s likely because she also lied to the police about having met him before. The officer who called her and Liam in over a “breakthrough in the case” said that the case was closed due to lack of resources, but the way he watched Stella sign the paperwork (and questioned if that’s “all she knew”) makes me uneasy—there’s definitely more to this storyline. What does he know that he’s not letting on?

As for change, I think that in the midst of all the “I’m Walker, Texas Ranger, you’re under arrest” in case you needed the reminder, we’re also continuing to see Cordell as a flawed human and a father coming to terms with the fact that he’s about to be an empty nester. It’s the next phase of his life—and one that brings about plenty of concern over the “quiet” that will allow his dark thoughts to flourish. Hopefully, Geri will be the light to cut through all of that. 

What did you think of the episode?

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Wild Cards

Vanessa Morgan Is Finally Getting the Recognition She Deserves With ‘Wild Cards’

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Vanessa Morgan Is Finally Getting the Recognition She Deserves With ‘Wild Cards’

I meant to write this post when Wild Cards first premiered on The CW, but time got away from me, and before I knew it, the season finale of the series was upon us! 

I’m not a huge fan of The CW’s decision to axe some of our favorite shows in its rebrand, but what does ease the pain of losing the likes of Nancy Drew is the addition of promising shows like Wild Cards

To be quite frank, Riverdale never did Vanessa Morgan much justice. She amassed a huge number of fans, who were mostly hoping to see her character Toni reunite with on-screen love interest Cheryl (played by Madeleine Petsch) in the later seasons, and while she was seemingly considered one of the “core” characters, she rarely got the storylines she deserved.

We knew she could act—but Wild Cards shows us the depth of Morgan’s talents. It lets her shine, dominate, lead,  and even carry the series, opposite her on-screen partner and potential future love interest, Giacomo Gianniotti’s Ellis. 

Morgan delivers with the role of Max, a whip-smart and very charismatic con artist who utilizes her special skillset to help a “down in the dumps” maritime officer get his mojo back—and, spoiler alert if you’ve watched the season finale, his badge and desk back. 

Despite his initial hesitation with the idea of her joining the force as a consultant, even Ellis comes around, amazed by her abilities and the way she’s able to navigate every crime scene and follow the leads to produce results.&nbsp

The two grow very close over the course of the season’s 10 episodes, largely due to Morgan’s delightful on-screen persona and presence. Even when it’s not clear whose side she’s really on (is she fully on board with helping the cops or does she have a larger-than-life plan up her sleeve to pull off her greatest con yet and help her dad George—90210‘s Jason Priestley—snag a “get out of jail free” card), you find yourself drawn to her and rooting for her because of her likable personality. 

Vanessa Morgan Is Finally Getting the Recognition She Deserves With ‘Wild Cards’

Credit: The CW

The series not only gets us invested in Max’s character—learning about her past—and what it entails for her future, but we also find ourselves rooting for Max and Ellis to finally get together… or even test the boundaries of that electric chemistry that they share (a moment that is, sadly, ruined when her husband Olivier (Dewshane Williams) blows into town). 

And it’s the mystery of Max that has all of us begging The CW to renew the series for a second season. We need more Max. We need more Ellis. We need more Morgan and Gianniotti. And we need answers. The good news is that Morgan told TVLine that season 2 of the quirky crime procedural is “very likely,” and trust that we put all our faith in her. 

As for the answers I mentioned we need, well, we need to know who killed Ellis’ brother, a murder that was the catalyst for him to get knocked down from his detective responsibilities in the first place. When he met Max, he was in a hard place, still trying to pick up the pieces of his brother’s death. And though he’s come a long way, surely, the fact that he can crack this specific mystery is one that he won’t be able to pass up. 

At the end of the finale—spoiler alert, again—Max convinced the authorities to help her pull off a heist that was two years in the works, hoping to frame her estranged husband Olivier after he steals a $33 million egg (he’s the one who betrayed her dad and landed him in prison), lessen her father’s sentence, and restore Ellis’ badge. However, there was a piece of the plan she didn’t share with Ellis—she swapped the real egg for a fake egg, and hatched a plan to disappear forever alongside Ricky and her millions. 

She didn’t expect Ellis to figure it out, though, this was one of the weaker points in the episode because she should’ve known him better than that by now, but she figured she’d be halfway across the country and it wouldn’t matter. What she didn’t anticipate in her plan is that Ricky, who was transcribing incriminating recordings from the mob as part of their safety-net policy, would find something on the drive about Ellis’ brother, namely, who murdered him. 

It’s at this moment that we see the biggest change in Max. She’s not the same person she was when the series first started. Her skills have become more valuable to helping than stealing, and she’s grown to care about someone other than herself and her father. She can’t, in good faith, leave with this knowledge and leave Ellis hanging. 

And that’s where we leave off—a promising cliffhanger on a promising series with two very promising leads. 

Your move, The CW.

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