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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.

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6 Sexy Shows to Watch for Valentine’s Day

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6 Sexy Shows to Watch for Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day can be celebrated in all sorts of different ways. 

Some people bake cookies, others go out for a romantic date, while some do a fun activity with their significant other. 

However, this is the first Valentine’s Day under COVID-19 restrictions, which means that you likely don’t have as many fun and romance-filled options as in years prior. 

That’s where TV comes in! Regardless if you’re spending February 14 with a significant other or your besties, these are some of the sexiest and steamiest shows to watch on the day that’s all about celebrating L-O-V-E (for friends, family, significant others, and, most importantly, yourself!) 

 

Bridgerton

Romance, scandal, drama… Bridgerton has it all! Dubbed the Regency-era Gossip Girl, Netflix’s smash hit and most-watched series is a brilliant and entertaining period piece with enough sex scenes to make you blush. And Regé-Jean Page isn’t bad on the eyes.

 

Emily in Paris

Emily in Paris, which was just surprisingly nominated for a Golden Globe, hails from Sex and the City creator Darren Star. It’s an airy flick about a millennial named Emily who travels to Paris for a dream job and becomes enamored with the City of Love and the men that want to show her all that it has to offer. 

 

Modern Love

Falling in love requires you to be open, honest, and vulnerable. The American rom-com anthology web series, based on a weekly column published by the New York Times, explores themes of love (romantic, platonic, friendly) with a star-studded cast. The 30-minute episodes are standalone and easily digestible, which makes them the perfect viewing on a night like Valentine’s Day. 

 

Younger

What happens when Liza, a 40-year-old single mom, decides to be 26-years old in order to re-enter the working world and falls in love with not one but two very different men? An exciting journey through the world of publishing and heartbreak. As Liza tries to find herself, she does everything in her power to hide her true self from those she’s become most intimate with. It’s another whip-smart Darren Star creation!

 

Good Girls

Two sisters, Beth and Annie, along with best friend Ruby find themselves embroiled in a dangerous life of crime after robbing a grocery store. Beth, specifically, falls victim to a crime of passion with one sexy “gang friend” that pulls her further and further into his world. 

 

Elite

If Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars had a baby, it would be this Spanish-language drama. A private school becomes the scene of a murder after a clash between the rich and poor students. There’s plenty of sexual tension and unexpected turns as detectives try to narrow down the list of suspects. 

** Article originally published in February 2021**

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The Resident

Is Bruce Greenwood Leaving ‘The Resident’?

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After The Resident Season 6 Episode 9, many fans have been wondering if Bruce Greenwood, who plays Dr. Randolph Bell, is exiting the FOX medical drama.

While there has been no official word about a potential exit, it’s a fair question to ask considering the nature of his most recent storyline. 

In the latest episode—which aired on November 29—Bell, who found himself as the target of Governor Betz’s smear campaign, finally admitted to himself, and to his wife, Dr. Kitt Voss, that his MS is progressing. 

After Bell exposed Betz’s corruption while trying to secure funding for Chastain, Betz decided that the only way to teach him a lesson and make an example out of him was through revenge. Betz ordered a hit piece on Bell that painted him as a dangerous doctor to Chastain, which, in turn, tainted the hospital’s image. 

Of course, while some parts of it were true at one point in Bell’s career, it was largely exaggerated and sensationalized to paint him in a bad light, and it didn’t take into account all the work Bell has done to become a better man and doctor.

The stress of all the negative press caused Bell’s MS to flare up, triggering a variety of symptoms like a high-pitched ringing in his ears, seeing double, and dizziness, which made him realize that he was pushing off the inevitable.

This time around, instead of operating when he shouldn’t, he acknowledged that he no longer felt confident in his abilities, nor did he trust himself to perform any future surgeries. When he told Kit that he needed to go back to the clinical trial, it was a shock, but ultimately, she was supportive because she knew that’s what he needed. 

But what now? How will The Resident keep incorporating Bell’s character into the storyline? Will we just see him communicating with Kit from the trial in the same way we did earlier this season? Or will he slowly get phased out and written off? 

The trial could prove to be successful again, and all of Bell’s worries could have been for nothing. After he prioritizes his health and the whole thing with Betz blows over, it’s possible we could see Bell return to surgery for many more years—back to his previous glory. 

Losing Greenwood would be a huge blow to the series, especially since he’s been part of the series since its inception, however, it remains unclear which direction The Resident will go with this storyline.

Hopefully, we’ll find out in the upcoming season 6 finale, which is set to air on December 6, but as of right now, there’s no indication that Greenwood is exiting the drama.

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What to Watch

Madelaine Petsch’s ‘Hotel for the Holidays’ Is a Gem Among Cliché Films

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Madelaine Petsch's Christmas Movie 'Hotel for the Holidays' Is an Absolute Gem Among Cliche Films

There are a lot of Christmas movies out there, which is why it’s important to make the right choice this holiday season. After all, no one has the time to waste over two+ hours on a bad movie. 

At the top of your list should be Hotel for the Holidays, a rom-com that offers a refreshing take on a festive genre that oftentimes lacks creativity simply because the forces behind the scenes know it will make money regardless as everyone longs for a slice of familiarity and comfort around the holidays.

There’s plenty of Christmas magic (it must’ve slipped through the cracks) in Hotel for the Holidays, and it sneaks up on you—and Madelaine Petsch’s character, Georgia—in the best possible way. It’s Amazon Freevee’s first original holiday flick, and hopefully, not the last. 

The plot is rather simple on the surface, but it isn’t predictable as with other holiday rom-coms.

Here’s the gist: Georgia is a young and ambitious hotel manager at the historic Hotel Fontaine (it gives The Plaza Hotel vibes from Home Alone 2), which attracts an eclectic bunch of guests, including some heartbroken singles, an infamous popstar, a European ex-prince looking for a taste of the real world, and more. They all arrive in New York City for the holidays looking for an escape from the norm, and Georgia is determined to give it to them. However, she also has her own plans and goals that get her into a bit of a love triangle with the hotel’s chef, Luke (Mesa Massoud from the live-action Aladdin), and the ex-prince, Raymond (Max Lloyd Jones from Book of Boba Fett). It also stars Kayleigh Shikanai (American Gods) as Pandora, Jami Belushi (According to Jim) as Kiki, Neil Crone (It) as Milton, and Jayne Eastwood (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) as Florence.

Madelaine Petsch's Christmas Movie 'Hotel for the Holidays' Is an Absolute Gem Among Cliche Films

Credit: Amazon Freevee

Pretty early into the film, it’s obvious how Georgia’s romantic life will resolve itself, which allows the film to dig into other captivating subplots that are positively unexpected. Unlike other holiday films, Georgia values herself beyond a romantic partner, which, right off the bat, is a breath of fresh air. 

The supporting cast plays an integral part in the film, right down to the chef’s best friend/fellow chef and the janitorial staff. They may not be the sole focus of the series, but the team behind the rom-com found a way to involve them in a way that’s natural and easy to keep up with. Pretty soon, you find yourself rooting for the happiness of everyone at Hotel Fontaine—the staff and the guests.

The acting is also great. It’s just the right amount of feel-good so it never feels forced, nor do the character’s choices seem questionable. It’s all believable within the world they’ve created, aside from the scene where they are dining on a rooftop in the dead of a New York City winter without jackets or even sweaters. How are they not cold? As for the few over-the-top performances and characters, well, they also work—the prince’s bodyguard (AJ Zoldy) is a delight.

If I’m being perfectly honest, the magical thing about the film is that it’s a love letter to the community of people you surround yourself with: your found family.

The film doesn’t just settle for telling a story about two people who finally admit that they love each other because that’s tired and expected. Instead, it recognizes that romance comes in all shapes and sizes—in romantic partners, in co-workers, in friends, and even in new acquaintances that pass through your life for a brief moment (or stay awhile). 

Madelaine Petsch's Christmas Movie 'Hotel for the Holidays' Is an Absolute Gem Among Cliche Films

Credit: Amazon Freevee

The storylines come together seamlessly, and the themes of belonging and acceptance—in addition to staying true to yourself, finding the inspiration to pursue your goals and ambitions, and acknowledging that it’s ok to move and find happiness on your own terms, even if it doesn’t always please everyone—help the film stand out among the other cliche seasonal offerings.

Most importantly, Petsch shines… and it’s so deserved. The film allows her to show off her range of acting chops that, sadly, get stifled on Riverdale. The CW series may have been her mainstream big break, but it stopped working in her favor a long time ago, so it’s exciting to see her take on new projects and characters. 

Of all the Christmas films that I’ve seen in 2022 thus far, Hotel for the Holidays is one of the best. 

Check it out for yourself when it premieres on Dec. 2 on Amazon’s Freevee. 

Read On:

Your Guide to All the Must-Watch Christmas Movies of 2022

Freddie Prinze Jr. Is Back! Everything We Know About the ‘Christmas With You’ Heartthrob

Where Was ‘Falling for Christmas’ Filmed?

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