Supergirl - Season 2 (Blu-ray) (2017)

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Released 23-Aug-2017

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure Featurette-Supergirl: Alien Fight Night
Audio Commentary-on "Supergirl Lives"
Featurette-Supergirl: Aliens Among Us
Featurette-Supergirl: 2016 Comic-Con Panel
Featurette-A Conversation with Andrew Kreisberg and Kevin Smith
Featurette-Supergirl: Did You Know
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2017
Running Time 930
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Glen Winter
Kevin Smith
Stefan Pleszczynski
Rachel Talalay
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Melissa Benoist
David Harewood
Mehcad Brooks
Chyler Leigh
Jeremy Jordan
Chris Wood
Tyler Hoechlin
Floriana Lima
Calista Flockhart
Frederick Schmidt
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $49.95 Music Blake Neely


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Dutch
Spanish
Portuguese
Danish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     With Supergirl shifting from its initial CBS home to the current DC television hub on The CW, a shake-up of the show was both inevitable and welcome, since Season 1 was unmistakably hit-and-miss. And to the credit of the show-runners, Season 2 of Supergirl hits the ground running, opening strong with a rousing two-parter which introduces Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) and ups the ante in terms of both action sequences and production values. It’s a promising new beginning, with its aesthetic brought more in line with the other shows on the network, so it’s a real shame that this superior quality isn’t maintained. Indeed, the remainder of the season unfortunately fails to stick the landing, an ironic reversal of the show’s first season which was initially awful but progressively grew more watchable and enjoyable. Still, Supergirl remains a slick, entertaining comic book action series in spite of its shortcomings, and it’s at least a d*** sight better than the last few seasons of Arrow.

     Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) maintains a day job at CatCo Worldwide Media, but she also protects National City as Supergirl, working with her adoptive sister Alex (Chyler Leigh) at the covert defence organisation known as the DEO. When a Kryptonian pod arrives on Earth, Kara hopes that another of her kind survived Krypton’s destruction, but the passenger turns out to be Mon-El (Chris Wood), a former citizen of the planet Krypton’s sister planet Daxam. Despite a longstanding feud between Daxam and Krypton, Kara builds a hesitant relationship with Mon-El as the pair develop undeniable feelings for one another. Elsewhere, Alex initiates a same sex relationship with police officer Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima), tech wizard Winn (Jeremy Jordan) joins the DEO full-time, James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) is left in charge of CatCo in the absence of Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart), and Kara becomes fast friends with Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) despite her familial connection to criminal Lex Luthor. In addition, Mon-El’s mother Rhea (Teri Hatcher) endeavours to rebuild Daxam, and targets Earth for an invasion.

     Whereas Supergirl’s first season ran for only 20 episodes, there are 22 episodes in this second season, which is still just short of the 23-episode runs granted for The Flash and Arrow. There’s a welcome mix of monster-of-the-week and mythology episodes here, though there are certain through-lines and subplots. Although serialised storytelling appears to be shunned for the most part by contemporary television, it’s fun to see Supergirl deal with more minor threats, as it underscores that Kara constantly works to keep National City and its citizens safe. One of the primary subplots of Season 2 is Alex’s relationship with Maggie, which feels shoehorned in to touch upon a Big Important Issue™ with all the subtlety of a shotgun. Although this type of edgy material has basically existed in comic properties forever (X-Men is one big allegory for Civil Rights and homosexuality, after all), the handling of the relationship never rings true or makes as much of an impact as it clearly wants to. Even more headache-inducing is the season-spanning threads involving Mon-El - alas, the love tangent with Kara is dead weight.

     Supergirl’s move to The CW Network necessitated a change in filming location, and therefore Los Angeles was switched out for the more cost-effective Vancouver, home of the other CW programs. Although the shift admittedly results in superior production value and special effects since not as much needed to be spent on locations, it does come with one big casualty: Calista Flockhart. She was the standout in the first season with her sharp, acerbic wit that managed to keep the show enjoyable, but here she only appears in five episodes, and her absence is felt - without her, dialogue is mostly humdrum. The much-publicised Hoechlin also feels wasted as Superman since he’s so underused, appearing only in the opening two-parter and the finale. He’s most egregiously absent during the expansive team-up event which runs through The Flash, Arrow and DC's Legends of Tomorrow. Is Hoechlin really that busy? Then again, perhaps this was a mercy since Hoechlin is nothing to write home about - he carries himself adequately, but he’s too meek as Superman, and he’s a far cry from the likes of Christopher Reeve and Henry Cavill.

     The show’s improvements from a technical standpoint this season are hard to deny, with smoother green-screening and superior digital effects. Action scenes are frequent and thrilling, such as the alien throwdowns in “Survivors,” and many of the set-pieces involving Superman and Supergirl fighting alongside one another (and battling each other in the finale). The show’s most impressive achievement from a CGI standpoint continues to be the Martians - they look convincingly detailed, though they admittedly lack proper weight in certain shots. Some wiggle-room must be permitted since this is a TV show produced on a tight schedule with limited funds, but not everything works. Certain sets look basic and obvious, CGI flames in “Welcome to Earth” are absurdly phoney, and alien foot soldiers in the finale look to be wearing cheap Halloween costumes. On that note, the finale does seem to end quite suddenly, and one cannot help but feel that an invasion should feel more epic in scope and scale. This show is what it is, but it could be even better with a more generous budget and a longer post-production period.

     The season’s directorial roster includes veterans like Glen Winter and Larry Teng, though the likes of Rachel Talalay (Sherlock, Doctor Who) and geeky filmmaker Kevin Smith are mixed in, too. Smith previously directed a Season 2 episode of The Flash to great success, establishing a strong relationship with the producers in the process, and therefore the self-confessed Supergirl mega-fan was recruited to direct two episodes here. It’s surely no coincidence that Smith’s episodes are among the most enjoyable that the season has to offer, particularly “Supergirl Lives,” the title of which is a sly reference to the theatrical Superman project that Smith was attached to write in the late 1990s (and has spoken at length about).

     Benoist continues to be an absolute joy as Kara/Supergirl, and the remainder of the ensemble cast hit their marks respectably. The character of Jimmy Olsen has seen many alter-egos in the comics, but in this season he creates a suit of armour and begins hitting the streets as Guardian to help fight crime, relying on Winn for technical assistance. With Brooks’ unique interpretation of Olsen greatly differing from the norm, the decision to introduce Guardian is one of the season’s greatest successes. Another big win is the casting of newcomer Frederick Schmidt as the comic book villain Metallo. He makes for a charismatic villain, but he’s also a real threat. Ian Gomez is a real find as Kara’s new boss, and there are guest appearances from a number of recognisable performers - including Teri Hatcher (who played Lois Lane on Lois & Clark), Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman from the 1970s television show), and Kevin Sorbo (Hercules).

     Flaws notwithstanding, Supergirl nevertheless manages to keep its head above water thanks to the game cast and frequently exciting action sequences. The show won me over in the end to a certain extent and I plan to stick with it in the future, but it nevertheless doesn’t come close to Daredevil, Legion, or the current king of DC television, Gotham, which is more mature, intriguing, and polished. Yes, Supergirl aims to be another show entirely compared to adult-oriented superhero programs, but The Flash does it better with seemingly little effort. If you enjoyed the first season of Supergirl, you’ll almost certainly be satisfied with this second season. But if you actively dislike the show, there’s no point giving this season a shot.

     The configuration for this four-disc set is as follows:

     It's worth pointing out that the crossover episodes with Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow are not included on this set. Thus, the episode "Medusa" ends with Barry Allen/The Flash (Grant Gustin) arriving to ask for Kara's help, setting up the crossover episodes, but you'll need to turn to the season sets for the respective shows to see what happens. Likewise, "Star-Crossed" ends with Kara waking up as a lounge singer, but you'll need to buy Season 3 of The Flash to see how this is resolved. One can understand Roadshow's hesitance to include four additional episodes on an already packed set, especially when fans of the Arrowverse might not want so many doubles, but viewers who only watch Supergirl are destined to be annoyed. Besides, if you want to watch the multiple-episode crossover, who wants to keep switching out discs?

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     I bemoaned in my review of Season 1 that the choice to place seven episodes on each disc within that set required an unreasonable amount of compression, which severely handicapped what could have been an excellent presentation. Well, the good news is that Season 2 is permitted a four-disc set for its 22 episodes, but the folks at Roadshow/Warner Bros are apparently still determined to not make full use of each disc, opting for a very so-so bitrate and still leaving space on each BD-50. Other television programs - such as Orphan Black and even The X-Files - place a maximum for four episodes on each disc and use as much of the disc as possible for the best presentation (hell, Game of Thrones usually opts for two episodes per disc). For a set retailing at nearly $50, you would expect the best possible product - but Season 2 of Supergirl on Blu-ray remains mediocre. The bitrate usually sits around a pathetic 12-15 Mbps, which is more in line with a Netflix stream, even if it is an oh-so-slight improvement over the first season's Blu-ray.

     Each episode of Supergirl's season is presented in AVC-encoded 1080p high definition, framed at 1.78:1 as per its original broadcast. At the transfer's strongest moments, it does look genuinely good. Close-ups fare particularly well, with tight shots of faces revealing plenty of texture and detail that's finely resolved. In bright daytime scenes, medium shots usually reveal ample texture as well, allowing you to make out all the intricacies of Supergirl's costume. However, there is a layer of source noise that's not as finely resolved as it should be, and some of the noise does appear to be compression-related. The transfer falters even more in the wider shots, which often look smeary and muddy, lacking in stability. A basic level of texture is always visible, but should be more prevalent considering that the show is reportedly shot with Arri Alexa cameras. In addition, lower-light scenes look smeary and desperately in need of more "pop." See, for instance, the scene of Supergirl talking to Cat at the 37-minute mark of the second episode - the backgrounds suffer from severe compression in particular, looking oddly pixelated.

     Even though the show does look relatively sharp, at times edges tend to look too soft if you look close enough. Furthermore, as with the first season, special effects shots tend to be on the soft side, which is likely a combination of the source (this was produced on a television budget) and the compression. It must also be said that while the green-screening is an improvement compared to the first season, the presentation doesn't always do the green-screen shots much favours. (Check out the shot of Supergirl at the 6:30 mark of episode 3... Sheesh.) But, again, this is a television show produced on a tight schedule, so I suppose you do need to make certain allowances.

     The Blu-ray presentation retains the bright, colourful look of the show's original broadcast. Especially in well-lit scenes, skin tones are nicely saturated and Supergirl's outfit is a vibrant feast for the eyes. However, colours begin to turn drab and muted in darker scenes, when the palette looks as limited as a DVD. Contrast is often weak as well, and blacks are never dark or inky enough. Couple that with the compressed digital look of the transfer and the series looks consistently flat despite competent cinematography. In addition, there are compression artefacts. There is light macroblocking during certain fast flying shots, and I did notice some banding from time to time, particularly from harsh light sources in dark scenes. The encode admittedly does better than perhaps it should considering that the bitrate occasionally drops into the single digits, but I can only consider what the transfer could have been like with more breathing room.

     In spite of the video's shortcomings, it nevertheless carries the requisite polish that you come to expect from a high definition presentation, and it will most likely be deemed good enough by more casual viewers. It's just that more finicky videofiles with expensive set-ups will be less impressed. This may be a TV show, but Blu-rays are all about presenting a given source in the best possible quality on home video - and this Blu-ray looks like a Netflix stream at best. Television shows are primed to begin seeing 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray releases, starting with Westworld, but it seems pretty unlikely that the CW's "Arrowverse" will ever receive such prestige treatment. Therefore, I imagine that this is the best that we're likely to get. At least it's still better than a DVD!

     There is a generous selection of subtitles available. The English track is free of issues.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Supergirl comes to Blu-ray with a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 track that's much more agreeable than the video presentation. Since this is a television show, the audio mixing is a tad basic on the whole, but the lossless encoding allows for a strong representation of the source, sounding crisper and more refined that the original broadcast. The audio is noticeably front-heavy, with the dialogue reserved for the front channels, and luckily said dialogue is well-prioritised and easy to comprehend. There is not normally much in the way of ambience, with the rear channels mostly used for the original score by Blake Neely - indeed, this is not as layered as a more expensive movie or TV show. It's particularly odd that scenes inside CatCo are so silent - one would expect far more chattering in the background, along with phones ringing and typing. But this traces back to the limitations of the source, of course.

     During the fight scenes, punches are a little hollow, but the subwoofer is still put to good use in certain scenes - see Metallo using the weapon in his chest, for instance. I also noticed some separation and panning when the occasion calls for it - for instance, when Supergirl flies past at the 14-minute mark of "Luthors," the sound of her whizzing past starts at the rear speaker and moves to the front.

     Minor issues do crop up, which are presumably attributable to the source since, again, each episode is produced on a tight schedule and presumably leaves little wiggle-room for definitive polishing. I did detect very occasional peaking when characters speak loudly, for instance, and some of the sound effects are undeniably chintzy. But thankfully, I didn't notice much in the way of encoding anomalies - no drop-outs or sync issues. All things considered, Supergirl sounds very good on Blu-ray.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     A selection of featurettes and an audio commentary. Pretty standard for an Arrowverse series. It's just disappointing that there's no Gag Reel, or even any Deleted Scenes like the first season.

Disc 1:

Supergirl: Alien Fight Night (HD; 10:06)

     This first featurette is focused on the episode "Survivors," in which aliens are forced to battle in an underground fight club. Several members of the crew chime in to discuss the characters and their motivations, as well as the episode's story and the fights themselves.

Disc 2:

Audio Commentary - "Supergirl Lives"

     Right from the start, it's clear that this is going to be a fun audio commentary with executive producer Andrew Kreisberg and the self-effacing Kevin Smith, the latter of whom of course makes a living doing podcasts and commentary tracks. For the most part, this is a scene-specific commentary, and they even touch upon little in-jokes and cute touches (including the decision to cast Smith's daughter). They touch upon bringing Guardian into the show, and shooting the old-school close combat action beat in the opening of the episode. Smith is a massive Supergirl fan, and he discusses what it was like coming to the show as a fan and working with the actors. Smith basically interviews Kreisberg here - he asks the producer about several behind-the-scenes aspects of the show, making it a valuable listen for anybody interested in learning more about the production. And there's a small tease for a planned Teen Titans show. It's just a bit of a shame that there's no commentary on Smith's other episode.

Disc 4:

Supergirl: Aliens Among Us (HD; 19:56)

     As implied by the title, this segment is all about the aliens on the show, the presence of aliens in popular culture, and even the possibility that aliens actually exist. In interviews, some of the folks involved in the show discuss the alien characters, and their attempt to insert relevant allegories and themes. Luckily, this featurette also briefly delves on the creature designs, and using both CGI and make-up to bring them to life.

Supergirl: 2016 Comic-Con Panel (HD; 28:16)

     You either like these, or you don't. Here is an condensed presentation of the 2016 Comic-Con panel which took placed before Supergirl Season 2 started to air. Therefore, the discussions are mainly surface-level, but there are some funny moments and cool titbits, particularly in regards to bringing in original Wonder Woman Lynda Carter, and the casting of Mehcad Brooks as an "alternative" Jimmy Olsen.

A Conversation with Andrew Kreisberg and Kevin Smith (HD; 3:55)

     Compared to the hour-long documentary about Kevin Smith directing an episode of The Flash on that show's Season 2 Blu-ray set, this four-minute conversation is mightily underwhelming. Here is a very brief segment in which Smith talks about directing his episodes of The Flash, and what it took to direct Supergirl. Kreisberg and Smith also touch upon how each CW show differs in terms of special effects. This should be longer.

Supergirl: Did You Know (HD)

     So... To cap off the extras, here we have tiny little vignettes that you'd expect to see on YouTube or Facebook. Each segment amounts to a small on-set interview fragment and they're mostly fun, but I would still prefer something more in-depth.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The local disc appears identical to the American release from Warner Bros, right down to the language options. Buy local.

Summary

     As much as I have criticised Supergirl, it's still a perfectly enjoyable show which has its moments, and I plan to stick with it until the end, though I'm well aware that I'm being more patient with the show than perhaps I should be.

     Roadshow's Blu-ray set is fairly run-of-the-mill, with a decent video presentation and top-notch audio. Although the set is a bit light on special features, there is a very good audio commentary track. For fans of the show and of the Arrowverse as a whole, this set comes recommended. For the uninitiated, try before you buy.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDLG UP970 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

Other Reviews NONE
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