I was left vaguely disappointed by the premiere. I had to think about why, because I thought the acting was great, the special effects were decent (some great, some not so great). (Occasionally I thought the lighting was bad, but it was bad in a way that made sense for the setting, I just would have preferred that they cheat on it.)
The big reason I was disappointed was that I felt I had seen it all before--and I had. In the trailer, which contains most of the juice from this particular episode. But having seen the trailer multiple times, this felt like a slower version of the trailer...I expected the next beat in the trailer and got a bit of dialogue instead. So it felt clunky, but I'm not at all sure that I would have thought it was clunky had I come to it pure.
So in that sense, I thought it was decent--certainly decent enough that I'll make my real judgement over the next few episodes.
My other disappointment is probably personal. The pilot had a lot to do: it had to get the show picked up (for starters); it had to introduce all the characters; it had to introduce a problem that was going to take all season or longer to resolve (the prison); there had to be an action story, because we had to make clear that this was an action-adventure series. The pilots for Arrow and Flash did these things. In addition, it had to explain why we weren't seeing the oft-referenced-but-never-named cousin.
But because the whole thing was tied up in an hour, introducing us to the new status quo, I felt like they hit some of the beats...not mechanically, because everyone hits those points...but a bit less gracefully than I would have liked. Kara's life, ending when she comes out of the closet...and commercial break. First attempts (which I thought were fun, really)...and commercial break. Downturn, which ends with heartbreak...and commerical. And redemption, leading to the new status quo. Often the structure is less obvious, or is obscured by ongoing threads.
Of course, a pilot doesn't necessarily have ongoing threads..
Characters had to be sketched out in the briefest of ways. Mehcad Brooks as James Olsen got a bit; Callista Flockhart as Cat Grant got a bit, and Jeremy Jordan as Win Schott got a bit. Enough that I'd like to see real development there...they intrigued me.
Chyler Leigh got some very on-the-nose dialogue, while I would have preferred that it be more indirect. Poor David Harewood didn't get much besides antagonistic plot stuff (though the line about Alex's abilities pleased me). I'm sorry that Dean Cain didn't get actual dialogue, but I understand it. I hope we'll see better and more in the future.
The villains got to chew scenery, which is fun for them, and sometimes fun to watch. It was certainly okay here.
So I think it was a decent pilot. Sure, maybe it would have been different if it had been picked up by the CW instead--the two networks have different styles--but it was decent.
Now we see how they're doing...what changes as it's an ongoing, where they cut corners on the effects shots, and what they get to do.
If they're going to keep up references to her cousin (they probably won't make them as numerous as here), it would be nice if there were some mention of meeting for self-defence training: both of them have learned on the job, as it were, and each of them needs the opportunity to work out with someone just as strong. (That can be a throwaway line..."What was that move?" "Been working out with my cousin.")
I'd like it--though it might not work for everyone--if the prisoner of the week ongoing actually led them into the real villain of the season. (We might have already seen the villain of the season.)
So I'll keep watching it, cautiously hopeful.