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Blu-ray Review: DC’s STARGIRL: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON

Sep 28 Posted by in DVD/Blu-ray, Reviews | Comments

Disclaimer: “Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-rayTM I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.”

The first season of DC’s Stargirl aired on DC Universe and The CW this past summer, and now makes its way onto Blu-ray & DVD. The series is set in a parallel Earth-2, where a decade earlier, a devastating face off took place between a band of superheroes known as the Justice Society of America and their evil counterparts, the Injustice Society of America. Unfortunately, the heroes were nearly all killed in the battle. Just before he died, leader Starman (Joel McHale) handed his Cosmic Staff to sidekick Pat Dugan,aka Stripesy (Luke Wilson), for safe keeping. He told Pat that one day the staff would find a worthy successor, but that person was not him. Over the next decade Pat searched for the remaining members of the ISA, trying to figure out where they were hiding and what they were ultimately plotting. These travels led him to meet, fall in love with, and marry Barbara Whitmore (Amy Smart) and joining their families—Pat’s son Mike (Trae Romano) and Barbara’s 15-year-old daughter Courtney (Brec Bassinger, School of Rock). It’s been two years since Pat and Barbara first met, and now the blended family is moving from California to Blue Valley, Nebraska—Barbara’s home town—where Barbara is starting a new job.

The family has differing opinions about their new home. While Mike has a great first day at school, making fast friends, Courtney’s first day at Blue Valley High School doesn’t go so well. She’s picked on by the popular kids, and at lunchtime ends up sitting at the reject table. However her day takes a drastic change when she looks through some old boxes in the basement, and stumbles upon a crate containing the Cosmic Staff. The staff seems to come to life with a personality all its own—glowing, floating and making noises. At Courtney grips the staff it takes off, taking her along for the ride. Courtney is a bit of a gymnastics star, and her skills seem to blend well with those of the staff. The staff takes her to the local drive-in theater, where the nasty popular kids from school are hanging out. She plans to just let the air out of the tires of one of their vehicles, but the staff has other ideas, causing a commotion by destroying jock/bully Henry King Jr.’s (Jake Austin Walker, Rectify) car. This catches the attention of the boy’s father, Henry Sr. (Christopher James Baker, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), who happens to be the ISA villain named Brainwave. It turns out that many of the ISA members have been hiding out in Blue Valley, biding their time while they perfect their evil plan. Now that Brainwave is aware that the Cosmic Staff is back, it’s time for him to don his old costume, come out of retirement, and get the gang back together.

Seeing as the staff found Courtney, she wonders if her father, who went missing on Christmas Eve ten years ago&the exact day that the JSA was defeated—could be her father. While Pat assures her he is not, Courtney still has her doubts. So she makes some alterations to Starman’s old costume, and calls herself Stargirl. She takes the other various JSA costumes and tech, along with the staff, and sets out to recruit the next generation of the JSA from the misfits and delinquents she met at school. First to join the team is Yolanda Montez (Yvette Monreal), a former popular girl whose life was ruined by a sex scandal, who dons Wildcat’s mask and gets cat-like powers. Next up is Beth Chapel (Anjelika Washington), a nerdy social reject who dons the goggles belonging the original Doctor Mid-Nite, giving her instantaneous access to a wealth of information. And finally, there’s Rick Tyler (Cameron Gellman) a teenage delinquent with anger issues and the son of the original Hourman—when he flips his father’s hourglass he wears around his neck, he is given super strength for one hour.

Pat, Courtney and the others slowly realize that the ISA has already infiltrated Blue Valley, with many of its members holding influential positions in the town and school. They have also been preparing their offspring to take on their legacies. However, if this newly resurrected JSA has any hope of defeating the bad guys, they are going to need a lot of help, which Pat reluctantly provides. When they first arrived in town, Pat set up a auto chop as a cover for he workshop, where he’s built a giant 15-foot robot mech suit out of old car parts. He now uses the space to help train the new JSA and help them learn more about their powers.

Stargirl has a very fun, unique aesthetic—it feels like a throwback to an 80s action/adventure/fantasy film. While the series takes place in the present with its modern conveniences and technology, Blue Valley is more of a small town USA, with a classic 60s feel to it. People say hello to each other while walking down the street, and everyone is friendly and supportive. You would never guess this is home to the evil ISA. The first season has a full story arc, from Courtney discovering the staff, to recruiting and training her team, to the battle with the bad guys. As I re-watched this first season via the Blu-ray release, I was surprised to see how much of the season is set up early on—upon my second viewing I was noticing a lot of things early on that I had missed or just not noticed the first time. The characters are delightful, and the relationship that develops between Pat and Courtney over the course of the season is wonderful. Courtney initially starts off hating this man who is in her mind trying to be a replacement father for her, but as she learns more about the JSA and his role, her opinions of Pat change and grow. The same goes for the members of her team. Each of them has his or her own backstory, which are slowly revealed over the first half of the season, with each episode taking a look at a different member of this new JSA, how they ended up there, and their newfound powers and role on the team. The series has the perfect blend of action and humor. It feels a bit more of a family-friendly than some of the other DC/CW superhero shows, but also doesn’t shy away from making the stakes feel real—that no character is truly safe. I really enjoyed the complete story told in this first season, and look forward to seeing more. The series has already been picked up for a second season, this time exclusively on The CW as DC Universe will be changing into more of a comics-only service.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds amazing. The picture is pretty immaculate, with rich colors and details, even in the fast-paced action sequences. The series is presented in a cinematic widescreen scope, which helps to give the show a more epic feeling. The audio track provides clear dialogue and makes excellent use of the stereo and surround channels to put the viewer in the middle of the action, providing an immersive and exciting viewing experience. The episodes are spread across 3 discs, which are packed in a standard multi-disc HD keepcase with a cardboard slipcover, along with an insert detailing the contents of each disc and a code to redeem a digital copy of the episodes on Vudu. Unfortunately, there is no other supplemental material included.



What’s Included:

    Episodes: (9:27:59)

      Blu-ray:

      • All 13 episodes of the first season:
        Disc 1: “Pilot”, “S.T.R.I.P.E.”, “Icicle”, “Wildcat”
        Disc 2: “Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite”, “The Justice Society”, “Shiv Part One”, “Shiv Part Two”, “Brainwave”
        Disc 3: “Brainwave Jr.”, “Shining Knight”, “Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E. Part One”, “Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E. Part Two”
      • 1080p / Widescreen 2.20:1
      • Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
      • Subtitles: English SDH​

      Digital: (Expires 9/30/2021)

      • Digital HD copy of the episodes redeemable via Vudu.

    Extras:

      There is no bonus material included.

 


Final Thoughts:

My Rating
Episodes:
Video:
Audio:
Extras:
Recommended

Stargirl is a really fun and exciting addition to the ever-growing universe of live-action DC superhero TV shows. It has the lightness and humor of Legends of Tomorrow, mixed with the action, adventure and female heroine of Supergirl, plus some teenage high school drama thrown into the mix. The first season is very solid, taking the viewer along for the ride while telling a complete story, though also leaving the door open for more adventures and excitement (the second season has already been ordered by The CW). The Blu-ray looks and sounds great, but unfortunately doesn’t include any supplemental material, except for a digital copy of the episodes. That said, the release still comes recommended based on the quality of the show and the technical merits of the presentation.