STARGIRL 1×05 “Hourman & Dr. Mid-Nite” review

Stargirl (DC Universe/Warner Bros.)

Synopsis

As Courtney sets her sights on recruiting more members to the Justice Society of America, Pat finds himself one step closer to learning which ISA members may be in Blue Valley.  Meanwhile, a search for Rick Tyler (series regular CAMERON GELLMAN) leads Courtney, Yolanda and Beth Chapel (series regular ANJELIKA WASHINGTON) to Cindy Burman’s (series regular MEG DeLACY) Halloween party.

Review

DC’s Stargirl continues to impress this week as it toes the fine line between comedy and drama. As Halloween arrives in Blue Valley, writer Melissa Carter brings us another episode which shows that teenage super-heroism can still be poignant.

“Hourman & Dr. Mid-Nite” starts out with another brilliant flashback to nine years ago. We’re introduced to Rex Tyler, his wife and young son. It’s clear this is the night that everything went down in Blue Valley as they’re in a rush to escape.

The scene itself is nothing out of the ordinary, they hand over their son to his Uncle and make tracks for safety. Leaving behind their beloved son in order not to expose him.

It’s execute with such emotional precision, with great pacing and some frenetic cinematography, that my heart was in my throat watching it. The scene is directed in such a way, with little understand of who this fleeing couple is (unless you’re a hardcore DC/JSA fan), that the audience feels much the same as the young Rick.

Bewildered, we stumble back to the present day and the reveal that Rick will grow up to be Cameron Gellman, whom we first glimpsed back in the pilot episode (reviewed here) sitting at the losers lunch table. The teenage Rick, still living with his Uncle Matt (Adam Aalderks).

Matt resents Rick for ruining what he believes was a promising career. He drinks heavily and has little respect for his pretend-son. The tension between the two is electric on screen and really sets Rick up to have the tragic backstory we need to him to.

Elsewhere, Courtney (Brec Bassinger) is the complete antithesis to Rick. She starts her day in a much more comedic scene as the family dog nearly outs her alter-ego to Barb (Amy Smart) and her potentially (comedically) psychotic step-brother (Trae Romano) creates monstrous pumpkins for their front porch.

Geoff Johns and his team of writers have crafted a well rounded family environment for Courtney. Underneath the bombastic superhero action and the inevitable teen angst which goes with it, this foundation helps anchor the series in reality.

A chance meeting, which does feel a little contrived, brings Courtney and Rick in to contact and sets Hourman’s hourglass in to action. Much like last week’s episode (reviewed here) it kicks off a series of events in which Courtney tries to convince Rick to join the team.

But rather than settle in to a formulaic system of introducing, pursuing and recruiting new members, “Hourman & Dr. Mid-Nite” spices up the setup by bringing in a second new member in the form of Anjelika Washington’s Beth Chapel.

Beth has been a weak spot for me in DC’s Stargirl so far. Her characterisation has felt two-dimensional and has very much lingered in the “my parents are my best friends” territory it started out in during the pilot. But this episode finally gives Washington more to do and he’s able to show a more dramatic range.

After catching Yolanda (Yvette Monreal) and Courtney in the act at the hospital last week, Anjelika is on to them and does a little digging by visiting the Whitemore-Dugan household. That pesky dog strikes again and Beth soon as her hands on Dr. Mid-Nite’s goggles.

The goggles, voiced by Henry Thomas, provide another level of dramedy to the episode. On the one hand his commentary is hilarious and the operating system visual also help to raise a laugh but on the other hand the goggles also give Rick the true story of what happened to his parents.

That level of balance I was telling you about earlier. It’s nigh on perfect in this episode.

“Hourman & Dr. Mid-Nite” ricochets back and fourth between the stories of Rick and Beth with Courtney acting as the common thread pulling it all together. Those stories intersect during Cindy’s halloween house party. It’s all very typical teenage fare, not unlike that what you would see in an episode of Riverdale, that is until Henry (Jake Austin Walker) begins exhibiting powers like his father.

It’s only a tease for what’s to come in the future, but we’re clearly building towards a young heroes vs. young villains situation. I only hope that Henry is caught in the moral in-between, unsure which side to take.

Elsewhere, we learn about a classic ISA member called The Fiddler (another giggle moment). It seems Principal Bowin (Hina Khan) may be the new Fiddler as she works with Eric Goins’ The Gambler to steal a device passing through Blue Valley.

The first season of DC’s Stargirl is clearly building towards a huge convergence of storylines. The various plot threads are all developing well and the characters inhabiting them are exactly where we need them to be. I’m impressed that five episodes in that Stargirl is maintaining such a high pace.

Once again it is Pinar Toprak’s score which is the MVP of the production. This series is crying out for an immediate soundtrack release when all is said and done.

Verdict

“Hourman & Dr. Mid-Nite” is Stargirl at its storytelling peak. IT has all the ingredients to form a brilliant hour of episodic television.

8/10

The show stars Brec Bassinger in the title role. Luke Wilson is playing S.T.R.I.P.E., alongside Joel McHale (Starman), Lou Ferrigno Jr. (Hourman), Henry Thomas (Dr. Mid-Nite), and Brian Stapf (Wildcat). Neil Hopkins (Sportsmaster), Joy Osmanski (Tigress), and Nelson Lee (Dragon King) will portray members of the Injustice Society.

Stargirl debuts new, unedited episode on DC Universe on Monday’s. The series then airs episodes on The CW on Tuesday’s.


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By Neil Vagg

Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & TV and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG