I’ve been watching a bit of Stargirl. I assumed it would be the usual cheesy CW low-budget junk - which is often pretty but in a certain way - like Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow etc. - especially as I’d heard it did a crossover with them and was airing on the CW.
Actually it’s something rather different. The budget is clearly a lot higher - better shooting/lighting, more apparent location filming (though I presume some is backlots), much heavier use of music which must require licensing, much better SFX and stunts - particularly a ton of wire-work, like maybe more than I’ve ever seen in a show.
More importantly, the plotting is a lot more confident and less episodic, with an actual arc, and character progression. It really seems to have some ideas and know where it’s going - I hear it’s based on a comics arc, so that makes sense, but it’s kind of unusual in the overall picture of superhero shows (like, the plotting/pacing is much better than virtually all the Netflix-Marvel shows, for example).
The show also has a very confident small-town America aesthetic, which is surprisingly well-handled, and avoids the trap of being overdone, something a lot of small-town-set shows (esp. supernatural or superhero-related ones) struggle with.
The general vibe is slightly reminiscent of 1980s kids movies, but grown up a bit, and it’s darker in a way that works. Not in some over the top way, but the body count really mounts. People actually fuck up and fail to achieve stuff too, and not in a straight melodrama way like Arrow (where we’d have to spend an episode agonising over it), but in a less annoying way.
The actors are well-cast, clearly well-directed (there hasn’t been so much of a hint of inconsistent characterization), and largely charming. Luke Wilson is particularly fun as the somewhat impotent but likeable stepdad who was once the sidekick of the original Starman. This largely goes for the villains too, who whilst a bit more OTT, are least quite fun and their leader, despite having a slightly fashy vibe, is strangely sympathetic (though has a rather unnecessarily complex backstory imo). He’s also by far the most dangerous ice/frost super I’ve ever seen (including in comics). They’re normally kind of a harmless bunch.
I have to mention the music also. I was initially pretty concerned it would be a lot of 1950s stuff (ugh…), but there’s only a bit of that (mostly associated with Luke Wilson’s character), and there’s a lot of other awesome and often rather off-the-wall musical choices. Including the Mortal Kombat music (you know the one) and jazzy version of Thus Spake Zarathrustra (used sarcastically in an excellent way) which is something I definitely didn’t know existed.
Finally, my personal bugbear, the time period. I think the comic it’s based on is from the 1990s, but this is clearly set now, yet “10 years ago” (which it starts in, and also has some flashbacks to that and the time around it) has an awfully 1950s/1980s kind of vibe. Still, when it comes to specifics they do stick to the facts - the male kid tells his dad they didn’t have computer games when the dad grew up, and the dad refutes this, and talks about how it was the “golden age” of gaming, mentioning 1980s games, and particularly talking about how he used to love Paperboy at the arcade, which would make complete sense if we assume the dad is in his early 40s or later (Luke Wilson is 48, which fits).
So yeah I don’t like, love it like I loved Fort Salem, but up to episode 6 at least it’s surprisingly an actually good show.