ADVANCED REVIEW: The CW’s Naomi

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Naomi-Review

The CW, the home of most Warner Bros.’ DC TV properties, is fleshing out its slate once more, this time with a hero that is a recent addition to the DC Universe. While the Warner-owned network has brought legacy heroes like The Flash, Supergirl, Black Lightning, Superman, Batwoman, Green Arrow to life, our next hero is one many may not know of yet, but will instantly fall in love with: Naomi. For the last few years, since the Arrowverse’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, The CW has begun exploring the teenage angle of the DC Universe. With Superman & Lois adding Jordan and Jonathan Kent and the arrival of Stargirl, it is great to see the network add younger heroes, and Naomi is continuing that trend, with a strong pilot.

Like Grant Gustin, Melissa Benoist, Cress Williams, Tyler Hoechlin, Brec Bassinger, Javicia Leslie, The CW has once again landed an incredible lead for Naomi in Kaci Walfall. Just from the premiere alone, Walfall couldn’t be more perfect as Naomi McDuffie, as she elevates the comic material and honors the heroine’s spirit and passion. While many may not know of this young talented actress yet, they definitely will once they see Naomi and witness the incredible work she does as the leading star. One of the other appealing aspects of the premiere is how they depict teenagers perceiving superheroes in today’s culture. In general, it very much feels like the real world, with one scene in particular that echoes conversations you could hear in real life. As a bonus, the introduction of Naomi running a Superman fan website makes her so relatable.

Outside of Walfall, Naomi introduces us to several supporting players that come right out of the comic. As someone who loves the character of Annabelle from the comic, Mary-Charles Jones is phenomenal as Naomi’s best friend, and the two actresses work so well off each other. As someone who grew up watching Barry Watson in many things, seeing him part of the DC TV universe as Greg McDuffie is fun. Two of the other players fans will want to pay attention to are Cranston Johnson’s Zumbado and Alexander Wraith’s Dee. With Dee especially, the connection they’re setting up between him and Naomi, is something I look forward to seeing get expanded. While we do meet the other cast members in the pilot, many of them we only get a taste of in the first episode. But that’s perfectly fine as I feel we will get to know them a lot better in the first season.

Kaci Walfall as Naomi — Photo: Fernando Decillis/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Something many may be wondering that we should get out of the way; it’s very clear from the get-go that Naomi does not take place on the same Earth as the other Arrowverse shows. As the synopsis has teased, the concept of superheroes in this reality doesn’t match what Earth-Prime has established. And to be quite honest, when looking at the source material, it works for the TV adaptation to be set in its own world while leaving the door open for a crossover down the line. Very much like what they did with Black Lightning in the beginning, Naomi deserves time to set its tone before getting involved with the other heroes on The CW. Like with Stargirl, it’s good for Naomi to get to create a new corner of the Arrowverse’s Multiverse.

Something that was a surprise was that when looking at the Naomi pilot among some of the other previous DC TV premieres, the opener is a bit quieter and hyper-focused, which is only a good thing. A pilot should always start with the foundation of the characters and their world before the fantastical gets incorporated. The action pieces are something they can and will build towards, which is why the Naomi premiere excels with its character establishing, especially with our lead. The Naomi pilot allows the viewer to get a solid introduction to Walfall’s character and her life before it changes forever. Without spoiling anything; there are definitely some exciting DC Easter eggs that will remind fans that this is indeed a superhero series based on DC Comics. What is also so captivating about Naomi is that it’s a great mystery drama, which for now, we can’t say too much about. But it will be a driving force in the first season, to say the least.

In conclusion, this is a solid first outing for Naomi as it does such a perfect job in giving us as viewers a cohesive introduction to her world as The CW adds yet another exciting DC hero to its ever-expanding lineup. Not only does the pilot from Ava DuVernay and Jill Blankenship, but the series also gets to stand on its own with some unique aspects to it.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

“From Oscar® nominee/Emmy® winner Ava DuVernay and Jill Blankenship (“Arrow”), and starring Kaci Walfall (“Army Wives,” “Power,” “The Lion King” on Broadway) in the title role, the DC drama NAOMI follows the journey of a cool, confident, comic book–loving teenager as she pursues her hidden destiny. When a supernatural event shakes her hometown of Port Oswego to the core, Naomi sets out to uncover its origins, with a little help from her fiercely loyal best friend Annabelle (Mary-Charles Jones, “Kevin Can Wait”). She also has the support of her adoptive, doting parents, veteran military officer Greg (Barry Watson, “7th Heaven,” “The Loudest Voice”) and linguistics teacher Jennifer (Mouzam Makkar, “The Fix”). After an encounter with Zumbado (Cranston Johnson, “Filthy Rich”), the mysterious owner of a used car lot, leaves her shaken, Naomi turns to tattoo parlor owner Dee (Alexander Wraith, “Orange Is the New Black”), who becomes her reluctant mentor. While unfolding the mystery about herself, Naomi also effortlessly navigates her high school friendships with kids on the military base as well as well as local townies, including ex-boyfriend and high school jock Nathan (Daniel Puig); Annabelle’s longtime, loyal boyfriend Jacob (Aidan Gemme); proud “townie” Anthony (Will Meyers, “Bad Education”); and fellow comic book enthusiast Lourdes (Camila Moreno), who works in a vintage collectible shop. As Naomi journeys to the heights of the Multiverse in search of answers, what she discovers will challenge everything we believe about our heroes. Based on the characters from DC, NAOMI is written and executive produced by Ava DuVernay and Jill Blankenship (“Arrow”), and executive produced by Sarah Bremner and Paul Garnes of ARRAY Filmworks. Amanda Marsalis (“Echo Park,” “Queen Sugar”) directed and co-executive produced the pilot episode. The series is from ARRAY Filmworks in association with Warner Bros. Television.”

Naomi, starring Kaci Walfall as Naomi McDuffie, Mary-Charles Jones as Annabelle, Cranston Johnson as Zumbado, Alexander Wraith as Dee, Daniel Puig as Nathan, Aidan Gemme as Jacob, Will Meyers as Anthony, Camila Moreno as Lourdes, with Mouzam Makkar as Jennifer, Barry Watson as Greg, and Stephanie March as Akira, premieres on Tuesday, January 11th, at 9/8c on The CW.

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