The Media Medusa herself has already reviewed The Flash, but I thought it might be fun to look at a few different aspects of the show, which I, too, liked.
If you’ve read any of my reviews — Gotham is my favorite show! How about that Spider-Man?– you may have guessed that I like super heroes. But I’ve never been a huge Flash fan. I love Jay Garrick (the first Flash), and Barry Allen and Wally West had their moments, but I rarely read their comics. And God help me, I hate Bart Allen. I don’t even have a good reason. That might be confusing to newbies, lots of Flashes out there! But this show is about Barry Allen, so let’s stick with him.
One thing that differentiates the Flash from every other comic hero is that he is a nice, fairly well-adjusted guy who loves being a super hero. No X-Men-y angst for Barry. Even Peter Parker, the nicest guy in comics, is driven to use his spider powers because of a colossal mistake that gets his uncle killed. The Flash just wants to do the right thing and have a good time doing it. In the pilot on the CW, they really seem to get this right, and we are really rooting for Barry from the first moment we see him.
Having said all that mean stuff about the Flash, I like a lot of the Flash’s bad guys, particularly Captain Cold, who has really been turned into a hard-boiled working man’s villain just out to make a buck. Interestingly, the Flash rogues are in direct contrast to Batman’s villains. Captain Cold, Mirror Master, Pied Piper, they all just want money and either have super powers or know that mimicking super powers is a great way to get the bank teller to hand over the loot. Batman’s villains are the kind of crazy that makes Jeffrey Dahmer seem like he wasn’t so bad. Sure, it would be terrible to be murdered by a serial killer, but I think a ventriloquist dummy doing the shooting would make it a lot worse. Of course, the Flash does have a crazy villain, the yellow-clad Reverse Flash, Dr. Zoom, who is awesome and exists only because he hates the damn Flash. Oh, and Gorilla Grodd! He’s a mean, hyper-intelligent talking Gorilla. We see his empty cage in the pilot! Please, oh, please, have Grodd on this season! And I won’t ruin anything, but we’ve already seen the Reverse Flash, like, six times.
So, how is the show? First off, everything looks great. With some good directing, they established a show that is very similar visually to Arrow, The Flash’s sister show on the same network, but brighter and more fun. Arrow spends a lot of time in a dark warehouse. The Flash’s apartment is a super fun TV dump (meaning, an awesome apartment, even though the roof leaks) and all the sets are just a little hyper-real, like comic books. The “running real fast” effects are pretty good, but I’m worried that they’re going to get old fast. In the second episode, Barry was on a treadmill and it looked… weird. Bryan Singer set the bar pretty high with his Quicksilver sequence in Days of Future Past, but the TV show wasn’t embarrassing or anything.
Interestingly, a weird thing this show has in common with Arrow is a cop who has a daughter, in this case the excellent and likable actor Jesse L. Martin and his charismatic daughter, the character Iris, who the Flash likes, but can’t quite find a way to admit to, particularly since she seems to think of herself as his sister. I wonder how that will develop? (Hint: In the comics, Barry and Iris are married.) Candice Patton seems like a real find as an actress in that she’s not just a generic nice girl. I found her genuinely interesting and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with the character. I hope she will quickly become something more than “The girl Barry likes.” Having said that, she does seem very sisterly, so Barry’s crush seems a little creepy.
The villain, a pre-branding Weather Wizard, was fine, although they didn’t really have time to develop him into much more than a bank-robbing, cop-killing son of a bitch. The fight was okay. But more than that, they deftly introduced the Flash’s world, which is what a pilot should do. There will be plenty of time to develop the rogues as we go.
And hey, what the hell was going on at the end with Harrison Wells standing up? Didn’t any doctors examine him to make sure that he really was a paraplegic? Oh, well. He’s smart, I guess.
So the Flash was pretty good. But after the second episode, I did start to have flashbacks to the miserable first few seasons of Smallville when an inept Clark fought a new person every week. If, four episodes in, we’re not getting more of an arc story, I might be out. Likable is one thing, but if the Flash starts, excuse me, spinning his wheels, there are too many good shows on to put up with that. I’m enjoying it so far, just with some trepidation.