REVIEWED: SEASON 1 (EPISODES 1-3) | WHERE TO WATCH: DC UNIVERSE (US ONLY)
So far, aside from a production issue on Swamp Thing which curtailed its storyline with disappointing results, shows produced for the DC Universe streaming service in the US have been incredibly consistent in their high quality. The live-action Titans and Doom Patrol, and the animated Young Justice and Harley Quinn, are mature, well-written TV shows with some incredible performances, and a delight for long-time fans of DC Comics who are seeing some of their favourite heroes appear on screen for the first time.
Going forward, DC Universe will share its product with other services owned by parent company WarnerMedia, airing a day after the shows premiere on the streaming service, and Stargirl is getting the CW treatment, fitting for a show built around a teenage hero. Based on the Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. comic book by Geoff Johns (who created this show for TV), Stargirl is the story of Courtney Whitmore, whose mother marries Pat Dugan, a former sidekick to Starman and the Justice Society of America.
When all the JSA are killed in battle with the Injustice Society, Dugan attempts to keep tracks of them, but loses their trail in a small town called Blue Valley, in Nebraska, where he meets Courtney’s mum, who is visiting her childhood home. Deciding that it’s the ideal place to raise their merged family, they up sticks from California, taking all their belongings with them. Amongst those belongings is Starman’s Cosmic Staff, which only worked for the deceased hero – that is, until Courtney finds it...
All-action from the get-go, taking what seems like a bold decision to kill pretty much all its world’s superheroes before the titles roll, part of the charm of Stargirl is discovering, along with Courtney, the secrets of the idyllic town of Blue Valley, and who its citizens really are. With a touch of the 1998 film Pleasantville and the familiar rite of passage superhero story of Spider-Man, Courtney’s introduction to both small town high school and the world of superheroics are error-strewn, funny, and fraught with peril, the juxtaposition between the two meaning anyone familiar with how difficult it is to fit in at that time of life can also identify with Courtney’s awkward first steps as Stargirl.
Brec Bassinger as Courtney is likeable and spunky, and Luke Wilson – returning to TV as a regular for the first time in seven years - reminds you just how good an actor he is when the material is worth his time. The real strength of any decent superhero show is in its villains, though, and the Injustice Society are suitably evil, although not all their members seem to be on board with their sinister plan to save America, one town at a time.
There’s a lot to like about the first three episodes of Stargirl, and if it keeps to the same quality throughout, DC Universe will have another critical hit on their hands. The increased eyes on the product through the CW link-up – and later this month Doom Patrol is co-streaming on both the DC and HBO Max services – should mean that they’ll be able to continue producing shows of this quality, and if that means we get the live-action TV returns of more of DC’s quirkier, less utilised heroes, that’s a very good thing indeed.