TV Review - The Flash

Super heroes unmasked, Grant Gustin (left)
as "The Flash" and Stephen Amell as "Arrow"
This is the spin-off of CW's Arrow. Yet, in reality, it's basically a carbon copy of Smallville, but what took Smallville ten seasons to do, this series does in one. It took ten seasons for Smallville to put its main character, a DC Comics creation, into the iconic costume and out of the closet so to speak. Instead of Clark Kent as Superman, here we have Barry Allen as the Flash, the fastest man alive. His outfit is all red with a lightning bolt on his chest.

Writers Andrew Kreisberg and Geoff Johns utilize a conceit from Smallville as well. When Clark Kent arrived on Earth, he landed in a hail storm of Kryptonite meteors that affect a town full of people and mutates them into super powered beings who then become villains for Superman to fight. Here, Kreisberg and Johns have an explosion caused by a particle accelerator mishap, unleashing a storm that sweeps over Central City's people and mutates some of them into super powered beings who then become villains for the Flash to fight.

It took several seasons for Smallville to build the support team or Scooby gang for Clark Kent. Here, this show does it all in the pilot. When Barry Allen, played by Grant Gustin, wakes up from his 6-month coma after being hit in the particle accelerator storm, he realizes he's been transformed into the Flash. He can move faster than the speed of sound, which is about 760 miles per hour. Every cell in his body operates at a high speed, meaning he has super healing power and a high metabolism, which improves his muscular activity, agility and aging.

He wakes up to find he's been recuperating in S.T.A.R. Labs, a facility owned and managed by a scientific genius named Harrison Wells, played by Tom Cavanagh. Harrison has two employees who have remained following the particle accelerator explosion. Caitlin, played by Danielle Panabaker, is a great analyst and researcher. Cisco, played by Carlos Valdes, is an inventor and funny sidekick. They secretly help Barry with his super powers and do what they can to help or apprehend the other super powered beings, known as meta-humans.

That being the structure of the show is enough to make me want to dismiss the series. It wasn't until the end of Episode 2 that I was convinced to continue. The over-arching story concerns Barry who works for the police department trying to solve the murder mystery of who killed his mom. His father, played by John Wesley Shipp, was falsely convicted for the crime, so Barry is trying to prove his father's innocence.

All this happened when Barry was a little boy, so Barry was raised by his father's best friend Joe West, played by Jesse L. Martin. In Episode 2, Barry fights with Joe about using his powers. By the end, we see and feel the relationship between the two, and how Joe is very much a father to Barry, despite the biracial aspect. Barry is white and Joe is a black man, but the love between them shines and comes pouring though strongly. That made me like the show, seeing Barry and Joe's relationship.

What makes me not like the show is seeing the relationship between Barry and Iris, played by Candice Patton. Iris is Joe West's daughter. Barry and Iris grew up as brother and sister, but now Barry is in love with Iris. He can't tell her that, along with not telling her that he's the Flash. Iris has a blog about the Flash and his heroics, but she doesn't know his true identity. She's the Lois Lane-equivalent.

Except, I don't care about their inevitable romance. Right now, the show is delaying their romance by giving Iris a boyfriend whom she met while Barry was in his coma. Her boyfriend is Eddie, played by the hunky Rick Cosnett. Iris' relationship with Eddie is way more interesting because he's also her dad's partner at work. Eddie is a young police detective. Their relationship is also more interesting because it isn't as inevitable and because she loves the Flash and Eddie hates him.

Episode 4 brings the character of Felicity Smoak, played by Emily Bett Rickards from Arrow to Barry, and she and Barry had more in common and way more chemistry than Barry and Iris. What's more interesting is having the show develop the villains better. They might do more with Captain Cold, played by the sexy and snappy Wentworth Miller, as well as more with Firestorm, played by the also sexy Robbie Amell.

The villain that's being developed the most is Harrison who is revealed to be a villain at the end of Episode 2. He runs S.T.A.R. Labs and pretends to be a good guy. Which villain he is exactly isn't clear. A big hint is given at the end of Episode 9, but his specific nature and what he's truly after is yet to be fully told. The assumption is that he's a time traveler trying to manipulate the past and future, and specifically manipulate the Flash, but who knows why?

The best episode so far is Episode 8. It was promoted as a big crossover with the characters of Arrow, including the titular character, Oliver Queen, played by Stephen Amell (the older cousin of Robbie Amell). The Episode pitted these two super heroes against one another. Given the Flash is the Superman corollary, it's no secret that Arrow is the Batman corollary, so it was like a precursor to a live action Justice League series or even the Batman vs. Superman movie.

Four Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-PG- LV.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Tuesdays at 8PM on CW.


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