Photo via CBS
Photo via CBS

“Supergirl,” an action-adventure drama about the “hot” 24- year-old cousin of Superman who decides to embrace her superhuman abilities after keeping them a secret during her first 12 years on Earth, premieres at 8:31 p.m. Monday on CBS.

Even before the first episode aired it gained national attention as Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, in answer to a media question, described the series star as “hot.” He’d seen her on a TV commercial advertising the upcoming series.

“Supergirl’s” roots date back to the May 1959 edition of Action Comics, which spawned a 1984 film starring Helen Slater, who makes a cameo appearance in tonight’s episode.

“Supergirl” received a spot on the CBS schedule in part because of what CBS Entertainment Chairman Nina Tassler called a “fantastic pitch” by executive producers Greg Berlanti and Ali Adler.

“We were really excited and interested to hear the pitch,” Tassler said during CBS’ portion of the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour.

“By the end of it, literally we fell in love with the character. We fell in love with the story. She’s eminently relatable. The journey they were taking the character we felt just spoke to sort of where today’s generation is.

“We also really responded to the fact that it had a very broad appeal, so we felt that we could have genre fans but we also felt … it was a great workplace comedy.”

Tassler said she is confident “Supergirl” will both “bring in new viewers” to CBS and be “very appealing to our big CBS fans.”

Melissa Benoist stars as Kara Danvers, a latte-fetching assistant to media mogul Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart). When her foster sister Alex (Chyler Leigh) is on an airplane experiencing engine trouble, Danvers uses her super powers to bring the plane to a safe landing.

The cast also includes Mehcad Brooks as Pulitzer Prize-winning Daily Planet photographer James Olson, the newly hired art director of the National City Tribune, one of Grant’s media holdings, and Jeremy Jordan as information technology technician Winn Scott.

Benoist was previously best known for her portrayal of transfer student Marley Rose on the fourth and fifth seasons of Fox’s musical comedy-drama “Glee.” She was the first person to audition for the role of Kara Danvers, according to executive producer Andrew Kreisberg.

“As soon as we saw her, we just knew she was the one,” Kreisberg said. “She had the strength, the hope, the heart, the humor and just that instant likability.”

Supergirl will be put “in situations where she isn’t all powerful, so that you can root for her,” said Kreisberg, who co-wrote the script for tonight’s episode with Berlanti and Adler.

“I think sometimes there’s a tendency with Superman to sort of make him so powerful that there isn’t any danger,” Kreisberg said. “Going in week in, week out you want to feel like Supergirl might not survive any of these things. A lot of that is based on the comics (where) there are plenty of things besides Kryptonite that can take her down.”

Berlanti, who is also an executive producer of two CW series based on DC Comics superheroes, “Arrow” and “The Flash,” told City News Service that “Supergirl’s” producers “made a promise to ourselves” that its action sequences won’t be different than his other series because it features a woman.

“Where Supergirl gets a thrashing, Flash or Arrow would have gotten a thrashing,” Berlanti said. “When (she comes) through in the end, its where our male heroes would have come through in the end.

“It was interesting in testing to watch the audience’s response to that. At the thrashing Supergirl got, they were uncomfortable. They hadn’t seen a lot of that. They were equally satisfied by her victory in the end. It gave us the confidence to go forward and replicate that, to not hold back because this happens to be about a woman.”

—City News Service

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