Television Review: The Flash

Flashby Michael D. Pederson

 

The Flash
The CW

Yes, be jealous. We did indeed get a very early preview of The Flash, (we saw it in May, almost five months before the debut) and it looks extremely good. But, to be honest, between scenes on Arrow and the extended trailer that was released in May, we had already seen a pretty good chunk of what’s to come.

In the first episode we get full-on backstory: Young Barry Allen witnesses his mother’s murder but in a red and gold flash, suddenly finds himself miles from the scene. His father is blamed for the murder and Barry spends his life trying to prove his father’s innocence and discover what really happened that night. This leads him to a career as a forensic investigator for the Central City Police Department. We then get the full story on the particle accelerator explosion which we had seen previously on Arrow that left Barry in a coma. Barry wakens from the coma, months later, with super speed. Using his newfound powers, Barry starts investigating a series of unusual bank robberies. It’s pretty standard origin story stuff and stays close to the comic book source material.

Now, what’s good? Lots. Grant Gustin is clearly having a blast in the part and his enjoyment is contagious, making him an absolute joy to watch. What else is good? Super powers. Arrow has played it safe so far, keeping superhuman abilities to a minimum. Flash, however, is doubling down on meta abilities. This first episode tells us that there are potentially dozens, if not hundreds, of supers on the loose now. As long as they can steer clear of the “freak of the week” theme that bogged down the early seasons of Smallville, I look forward to seeing how they handle this. More good stuff? The cast is nearly perfect. Veteran actors Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order) and Tom Cavanagh (Ed) lend credibility and serious acting chops to the show. They elevate every scene they’re in. Martin plays Detective Joe West—father of Iris West—and Cavanagh plays Dr. Harrison Wells—the man responsible for the accident with the particle accelerator. Fans of DC Comics will recognize several other names as well: Eddie Thawne, Caitlin Snow, and Cisco Ramon all play major roles in the comic so I’m looking forward to seeing where the show takes them. Oh yeah, and John Wesley Shipp (star of the 1990 Flash series on CBS) has a brilliant cameo. My only disappointment was with the actress playing Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker). Snow and Ramon both work at STAR Labs and will be the show’s tech facilitators (every show seems to have one these days: Felicity, Chloe, Claudia, Abby, etc.). Panabaker does a fine job with her dramatic scenes but seems uncomfortable when she has to spout technobabble; I’m sure she’ll grow into that though.

Best part? There’s a scene that seems to indicate that The Flash is heading into Infinite Crisis territory. Which, if done right, could mean a crossover with the DC movieverse. I can’t wait. The Flash debuts on Tuesday, October 7.