Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Review - The Flash


The CW's The Flash is one of the new shows I have been anticipating the most.  The Flash is my favorite DC character (Must See:  the animated show Justice League, with Smallville's Michael Rosenbaum perfectly voicing the character).  Plus this particular Flash was cleverly and well introduced last season in an episode of Arrow, another great CW show which begins its third season tomorrow.  And its been getting great buzz.  So does it live up to the hype?


The Flash tells the story of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin, Glee, 90210), a brilliant but awkward CSI investigator in Central City who while on a visit to S.T.A.R. Labs gets struck by lightning while standing next to a particle accelerator.  The result:  he is endowed with super speed.   His life is saved by S.T.A.R. Labs scientists Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker, Justified, Necessary Roughness), Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and lab boss Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh, Trust Me, Eli Stone, Ed).  Together they help Barry begin his rise to becoming his city's masked guardian/protector.

Unlike his green hooded neighbor, Barry doesn't become a brooding vigilante, but rather embraces his new powers with enthusiasm and joy and has hope that he can make a positive difference (he and Batman would so not hang out together socially). 

Of course, this is a superhero origin story, so there almost always has to be some element of tragedy, and so goes it here - Barry's mother was murdered when he was a boy and his father Henry (clever casting:  John Wesley Shipp, who played The Flash on TV in the early 90s) has been falsely accused and imprisoned for the crime.  

Barry was raised by his foster father, Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin, Smash, Law & Order) and foster sister Iris (Candice Patton, The Game).  Interesting fact:  there are two main Flashes in the DC universe, Barry Allen and Wally West.  To see Barry's foster family is named West makes me wonder if Wally will be worked in somewhere down the line (Wally was the Flash featured in the animated Justice League).

The Flash still has the snazzy red suit, though it more resembles Daredevil's in color.  Alas, another voiceover narrative - just gonna be a given with most shows now, huh? - but I do appreciate Gustin's gusto (heh) in telling his character's story.  I kind of see Barry as the Peter Parker of the DC world, a nerdy, awkward, super smart science geek misfit, least likely to become a superhero, but does, and an awesome one at that.  I love the pacing of the banter, delivered so naturally by the cast.  Gustin is adorable and immediately likeable and credible in the lead role.  The fact that he has a crush on his foster sister could be creepy if done wrong, but here it's done right because Iris senses it but doesn't call him on it or make him feel bad, she just supports him and treats him with sisterly love and respect.

The pilot reshows Barry's accident that we watched on Arrow last season early on, then immediately and seamlessly jumping ahead nine months to the moment he wakes from his coma.  Again, the pacing here is excellent as Barry is quickly filled in on what happened to him and others around him (the storm cloud that struck Barry also struck others, hence - like the meteor shower on Smallville (another great CW show ... man, I've loved so many of the net's programs!) - leading to the creation of other superbeings, many of which will become Barry's future nemeses. 

I liked watching Barry's reaction to his new powers - he freaks out at first, takes a quick run, then simply says "Awesome."  He's okay letting his new lab friends right in on the news and enlists them to help him find out just what he can do.  It's refreshing ... the hero having a support time right off the bat instead of the drawn out who's-gonna-discover-the-secret-first? scenario.  The effects are done really well, opting to use slow-motion as the way to show us Barry's point of view (everything slows down for him, even though he's moving hundreds of miles per second).  And did I mention Gustin's adorable? There's also a very "cool" cameo by Arrow's Stephen Amell ...

I don't want to give away too much more, because I think you should check this fun, funny, action-packed series for yourself.  Yes, I know, there are a lot of comic hero shows on right now, but this is a great addition to that, and I think the CW was smart not to overload one night with both this and Arrow, but rather makes The Flash the new lead-in for Supernatural, leaving The Originals to lead in to Arrow on Wednesdays, again not overloading like shows on the same night, but keeping the other vampire show, The Vampire Diaries, on Thursday.  What can I say ... I think the CW gets it right a lot. 

BOTTOM LINE:  New episodes of The Flash can't air fast enough for me!

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8pm on the CW.

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