***WARNING: This review contains some spoilers!***
[dropcap size=small]B[/dropcap]arry Allen has officially raced into primetime in the latest superhero adaptation to hit the small-screen.
Tuesday marked the premiere episode of the CW’s latest DC superhero serial, The Flash.
Stemming from the CW’s other successful series Arrow (based on Green Arrow, of course), The Flash attempts to further extend the DC superhero universe on television by heading into Central City, and the story of its resident crime-fighter.
While I was a bit concerned since the show would be airing on network TV, I was pleased to discover that The Flash gets just about everything right.
After witnessing the bizarre murder of his mother and the wrongful conviction of his father, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) is taken in by family friend, Detective Joe West (a brilliant Jesse L. Martin). He grows up to be a bright yet awkward young man working as a CSI investigator for the Central City Police Department. When an advanced particle accelerator created by Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) explodes at S.T.A.R. Labs, a bolt of lightning mixed with radiation from the explosion strikes Barry Allen as he is doused with chemicals in his lab. This causes him to be given the power to move at superhuman speeds. Barry soon discovers that the explosion has led to the creation of other “metahumans”, some of whom are using their powers for nefarious purposes (in this particular episode, the villain Weather Wizard – yes, The Flash has some of the most uncreative villain names in all of DC comics). After some sage advice from a friend over in Starling City (The Green Arrow – played by Arrow‘s Stephen Amel. Crossovers! Yay!), Barry decides to take up the mantle of The Flash and vows to protect Central City.
One of major things the show gets right is the fact that it stays fairly true to Flash’s origin story. They manage to cram important events in Barry’s past as well as the inception of The Flash into the 45 minute allotment. The show moves along at a good pace that doesn’t feel too fast, nor does it drag on. Barry’s childhood is shown in a few flashbacks that do not feel intrusive, and manage to fill in just enough backstory without lingering on unimportant trivialities.
Another thing, that will definitely please fans of The Flash comics, is there are plenty of references and easter eggs hinting at comic storylines and other elements of the character’s mythos. These allusions are done in such a way that if you’re not a familiar with the comics, you won’t think twice about them, but if you are, you might squeal with joy. They are all nicely packaged, and don’t seem heavy-handed like in other shows derived from comic books. In the premiere for FOX’s Gotham, every time a reference to the comics was made, or iconic character appeared, it felt like the actors were about to break the fourth wall and wink at the audience. I didn’t feel that at all with The Flash.
The script itself is well thought out, and plays great for a pilot episode. Geoff Johns, one of the most iconic writers of Flash comic books, is writing for The Flash TV show, so you can’t go wrong. However, I did find some of the dialogue and acting to be a bit too “CW” – I thought that Danielle Panabaker as Dr. Caitlin Snow was particularly cringeworthy. Aside from a few players, the characters are depicted well by their respective actors. I thought Grant Gustin in the lead could have been more witty and charming as Barry Allen, but he was still likable in his portrayal as the Scarlet Speedster. Other standouts were the aforementioned Jesse L. Martin and Tom Cavanagh, and John Wesley Shipp (the original Flash from the 1990’a TV series!) as Henry Allen, Barry’s incarcerated father. Iris West (Candice Patton) and Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett) will also be featured prominently in the series.
The big surprise ending (totally awesome, but may go over the heads of non-DC comic readers) also signifies that the show has a direction, and knows where it’s going. Definitely a good sign, signifying that the creators aren’t just using the property to make a buck off the superhero trend. Could the show already have an end-game? Or will it go beyond the premiere’s surprise reveal. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
To wrap things up, The Flash is definitely the show to watch. If it can keep on course at a good pace, it has the potential to be one of the best superhero television adaptations ever. Ambitious, I know, but with a pilot episode this strong, it’s exciting to think about where the show will go next.
The Flash airs on the CW Tuesdays at 8p.m.