‘Stargirl’ 1×01 Review: “Pilot”

As far as series premieres go for DCTV shows, Stargirl Season 1 Episode 1, “Pilot,” may very well be one of the best. Stargirl proves it is sure of itself within the first ten minutes by establishing humor and heart as its main beacons. 

This establishes that Stargirl is a necessary TV show for not only fans of comics and superheroes but also those of us looking for an optimistic series to turn to right now. 

Stargirl does a good job of introducing just enough of the Golden Age Justice Society of America. Much more would not have worked in its favor, leading viewers to believe the show is less about Courtney’s journey as Stargirl and more about the original JSA. 

DC’s Stargirl — “Pilot” — Image Number: STG101f_0376b.jpg — Pictured: Luke Wilson as Pat Dungan — Photo: Jace Downs/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

That being said, the opening fight sequence is epic and appears to be on a march larger scale than other DCTV shows on The CW. This may have something to do with the series premiering a day early and then simultaneously airing on the DC Universe service. 

It’s still uncertain how often we will see Joel McHale’s Starman, but he definitely leaves a good first impression. His few scenes with Pat Dugan, played brilliantly by the amazing Luke Wilson, are a closer look into a world Courtney steps into later in the episode. 

Those scenes really prove Pat’s appreciation and connection to both Sylvester and the mantle of Starman. Pat is protective of his friend and partner’s legacy, which makes it all the more complicated when his stepdaughter picks up the magical staff.

DC’s Stargirl — “Pilot” — Image Number: STG101d_0038b.jpg — Pictured: Brec Bassinger as Courtney Whitmore — Photo: Tina Rowden/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

This episode serves as a brief introduction to the JSA and the beginning of an origin story for Courtney Whitmore as Stargirl, because it looks like Pat may be the lone survivor of the Golden Age heroes. 

Even though that is an unfortunate prospect, it leaves so much room for the series to shine a light on the power of young people. Pat had a found family with Sylvester and the JSA, and now it’s Courtney’s turn. 

This is a break from the usual DCTV shows on The CW that focus on the heroes as adults, missing out on all of the firsts of young adulthood. There is so much untapped potential for Stargirl to discover. 

DC’s Stargirl — “Pilot” — Image Number: STG101f_0100r.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Brec Bassinger as Courtney Whitmore and Luke Wilson as Pat Dungan — Photo: Jace Downs/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Stargirl has the chance to make superheroes accessible to an audience that may have felt blocked out by the older, sometimes darker shows on The CW. 

You can see the beginnings of this when Courtney stands up for a girl she doesn’t even know who’s being slut-shamed by some jocks. Teenagers can be as powerful as they can be harmful, and Courtney does not stand for the latter. 

The only downfall of this moment is that Stargirl looks to be leaning into some familiar tropes, like the mean jock and the table of “losers,” but it is only the first episode. Courtney only knows Beth’s name at that table, and at least one of those bullies seems to get a mean streak from his father. 

The show’s nostalgic in that it feels reminiscent of teenage movies from the 80s and 90s, so it’s not shocking that Stargirl utilizes the same tropes from those movies. Basically, Stargirl has plenty of time to turn those tropes on their heads, and it wouldn’t be fair to fault the series for using them in its first episode. 

DC’s Stargirl — “Pilot” — Image Number: STG101c_0165b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Amy Smart as Barbara Whitmore and Brec Bassinger and Courtney Whitmore — Photo: Eli Joshua Adé/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Courtney Whitmore is a strong-willed, compassionate person, and that’s going to make her a great hero. She has a kind heart, and this is no clearer than when she gently lets the air out of a bully’s tires instead of doing something more drastic with the power she’s been given. 

Plus, it looks like the staff likes her, because it’s somehow like a pet dog begging for her attention. This staff is a character in its own right and deserves a name. If Pat can go by Stripesy, then the staff should have a nickname too. 

The staff is like a Harry Potter wand and a Star Wars droid at the same time. What’s not to love?! 

The only thing visually cooler than the staff is Pat’s robot, which gives Pat the opportunity to reclaim his role as Stripesy and be a sidekick for Courtney. 

DC’s Stargirl — “Pilot” — Image Number: STG101L_0011b2.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Luke Wilson as Pat Dungan, Amy Smart as Barbara Whitmore and Brec Bassinger as Courtney Whitmore — Photo: Erika Doss/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Pat’s genuine excitement in being a sidekick is something often downplayed or ignored in other superhero shows. Sidekicks are always upset that they’re not in the limelight, rather than enjoying their role in the team. Pat, on the other hand, is ecstatic to be involved in any way, shape, or form. 

The only downfall to Stargirls premiere episode is that Brainwave, though a supervillain, is a grown man wreaking havoc and violence on a young girl. Pat makes it clear that Courtney is young enough that she doesn’t even have her driver’s license, yet Brainwave doesn’t have the common sense not to use his invasive powers on a minor. 

Then again, this is only the first episode. Stargirl has nothing but time to dive into the nuances of this villain and his target on Courtney’s back. Ideally, the series won’t shy away from the uncomfortable aspects of this situation. 

DC’s Stargirl — “Pilot” — Image Number: STG101b_0002b2.jpg — Pictured: Christopher James Baker as Henry King Sr. — Photo: Annette Brown/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Overall, Stargirls premiere is a strong pilot and a promising start to a series that stands apart from its predecessors, and Brec Bassinger shines as Courtney Whitmore. The pun is absolutely intended. 

Stray Thoughts:

  • The Flash is mysteriously blurry in that JSA photo. Is this so we can’t tell if it’s an older Grant Gustin? I’m already planning out potential multiverse crossovers. 
  • Blue Valley is a super cute small town, I can’t deny it. 
  • The soundtrack is great! 
  • Luke Wilson is on a CW show. Can you believe it? I can’t, I’m still freaking out about it! 

Stargirl is new Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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