Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) works as an assistant to Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart), CEO of media giant CatCo. She’s also an alien with superhuman powers; as someone who generally doesn’t care for comic books, and who really doesn’t care about origin stories, I’m pleased to say that the reason for her journey to Earth is dealt with briskly. She’s been hiding her powers, but busts them out when a plane on which her adoptive sister is flying is about to crash.
To start with, Kara is endearingly excited, as anyone would be in that situation: she gets to save people, and she can fly. (Honestly, if she’d been angsty at this point I’d have switched off there and then.) Her sister deflates her mood a little by pointing out that there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle, and that she’s going to be in danger. Sure enough, she’s seized by the Department of Extra-Normal Operations, of which the Director is Hank Henshaw (David Harewood – who, quite rightly, plays the role in exactly the same way as when he was Director of the CIA’s counterterrorism operations in Homeland). He tells Kara that, by means of made-up science which need not detain us, she also brought a prison ship full of the worst criminals in the galaxy to Earth. By way of illustration, she will in due course do battle with Rigsby out of The Mentalist, having persuaded a sceptical Henshaw – “Nothing says covert operation like a flying woman in a red skirt” – that she’s up to it. He doesn’t trust aliens, you see, which is probably fair enough, given that he’s dedicated his career to hunting down some particularly nasty ones.
Anyway, I have no idea whether I’m the target audience, but I quite liked this. Benoist, as she showed in Glee, is an engaging and likeable screen presence; there are a couple of potential romantic interests, although I’m not yet on either #TeamKarwinn or #TeamKarjames; and the show seems to have an astute appreciation of its ridiculousness and its sexual politics – there’s a lengthy debate about why Kara is known as Supergirl rather than Superwoman. “Doesn’t that make us guilty of being anti-feminist?” she demands. I wasn’t bowled over, but I might keep watching.