The Flash: My Impressions of the Scarlet Speedster’s New TV Show
How’s that new Flash TV show, you ask? Well, my answer is… it’s too early to judge, but I can tell you what I’ve noticed so far from its first 3 episodes.
First of all, I’m not a huge fan of The Flash. What I mean is that I like the character and I have some notion of his origins thanks to that old TV show from when I was growing up. Whenever I’ve seen him in comic books it’s because of a cross-over event like Blackest Night or Flashpoint, but I’ve never actually a comic about The Flash. The best impression I have of the character is when he would come out in DC animations, especially his guest appearances in Superman: The Animated Series.
In my mind, Barry Allen (or Wally West, etc.) has always been the Justice League’s comic relief. In contrast to other serious characters (like practically everyone else) in the team, Flash always seemed to have a smile on his face and quip cynically at the hard situations they faced. The rest of the team mocked him constantly, but when clutch time came and everyone else was benched, The Flash would save the Justice League — and sometimes the DC Universe — time and time again.
In a way, Flash is like DCU’s Spider-Man. He’s a human who gets extraordinary powers and an alter-ego overnight and must learn to live with them, to protect the people he cares about the most and manage to juggle two lives without revealing his big secret. Just like the webhead, the Scarlet Speedster is the outlet for a guy who couldn’t have a more mundane existence and who kept clinging on to the past.
With that in mind, I’m glad DC finally took the big step and gave this superhero a second chance. After those dark Batman and Superman remake films, a Green Arrow show I don’t watch because I don’t care and several attempts at bringing both Wonder Woman and Aquaman to primetime TV, The Flash seems firmly grounded, at more than a thousand miles per hour.
John Wesley Shipp is Henry Allen, Barry’s father who actually played The Flash in the original series of the 90’s. Another one of the series’ easter eggs or is he something more?
Out of the first three episodes, my favorite would be the second one, because it’s got a bit of everything I want to see in the series. There’s interesting drama in Barry Allen’s life, but there are also clear conflicts both internal and external among characters who aren’t villains and also don’t have superpowers.
Sadly the show suffers from the same problem that plagues the DC spin-off books. Basically, they keep reminding the viewer that Barry is a superhero and there are constant allusions and puns related to speed in every corner. This is an actual quote taken straight out of the first 2 minutes of the show’s pilot episode, said by Barry’s mom, of all people:
“You have such a good heart, Barry. And sometimes it’s better to have a good hard than fast legs”.
Yeah I hope the scripts get better as we go.
Aside from that, Grant Gustin is not bad at all in the shoes of the fastest man alive. I like that his acting doesn’t feel forced and that in most cases he portrays Barry like a person whose genuinely concerned about the people surrounding him, especially his father. I see him full of doubt and his worries make him exercise restraint in his abilities, as opposed to a Peter Parker who seemingly forgets about Uncle Ben as soon as he puts on the mask. It never seems to matter how fast Barry can run, his problems are waiting for him no matter where he goes or how fast he gets there. And he knows it.
On the other hand, the rest of the supporting cast is what you’d expect from a TV show, with the exception of Tom Cavanagh who plays Dr. Harrison Wells, an original character made just for the show who also happens to have invented the particle accelerator that causes the accident in which Barry gets his powers. Cavanagh is amazingly compelling in his role as a mentor to our hero, but he also has dark secrets of his own, which usually serve as a cliffhanger that’s becoming a tradition after each episode. Every time the last bit of commercials ends, you know you’re getting that final scene where Wells is up to something sneaky and you can’t help but wait and see, like the post-credits on a Marvel movie.
(Sorry for the comparisons, but it’s just hard for me to not see DC threading water others have swum in before)
The icing of the cake is the appearance of characters who already debuted in the second season of Arrow and whose constant references and easter eggs decorate each episode. It’s clear that The Flash has a lot of potential and DC is banking on it, but I’ll declare the show a trascendental success when it forces me to fetch for old Arrow seasons just to catch every bit of detail they’re throwing at me here.
So here’s the full pilot episode of the show in case you’re still on the fence about it. Catch up and we can talk about it later.