THE FLASH (2014): Pilot Review
After the successful adaptation of the DC Comic character Green Arrow in The CW’s ARROW, a more upbeat and optimistic spin-off comes in the form of THE FLASH. The pilot is not only able to tell a great standalone story for new audiences, but has enough tid bits to excite the nerdiest of fanboys (and girls), despite their liberal adaptation of the source material.
After a mysterious lightning storm kills his mother in their own house, and his father gets accused of the crime, Barry Allen grows up to be a Crime Scene Investigator, always chasing the weird and unexplained events in search of the impossible. During one of these freak occurrences, a lightning storm gives Barry incredible powers that confirm his suspicions about his mother’s death and proves his father’s innocence, sending him on the path of being a hero for his city, as well as discovering the truth behind his mother’s death. As more people with powers cropping up in his city from the same accident that gave him his, Barry becomes The Flash in order to maintain the safety of his city. The Pilot sets up this synopsis brilliantly, while having just enough humor, action, and character developing exposition to give a good indication of where the series plans to go.
When he debuted as Barry Allen in a Season 2 episode of ARROW last year, I didn’t feel that the skinny and baby faced Grant Gustin would be able to headline a series of his own. The Pilot proves me wrong, as the likeable Gustin is able to balance being the victim and hero with equal shades of desperation and hope. The series is a departure from the dark ARROW, and is aiming to be more light hearted in tone, given the overall characterization of the main character, who maintains a childlike optimism despite working for the police and witnessing crimes everyday.
THE FLASH serves up the story in a natural and progressive way. Never does the episode feel like it’s shoving exposition down the audience’s throats or explaining things that need no explanation. The Pilot begins with a very casual narration by the titular character, who immediately tells the audience to ‘believe in the impossible’, right away suspending disbelief, by having a character tell the audience to do so. This continues as we see the rapport Barry has with the other characters. While being formulaic, and even borrowing many of its elements from ARROW, the ensemble cast of THE FLASH really helps make the show much easier to accept and get into.
Joe West is Barry’s surrogate father and protector, as well as being a detective in the local Police Force that Barry works for. Played by Jesse Martin, Joe’s daughter Iris also happens to be the object of Barry’s affections, although unbeknownst to her. While the show makes the previously Caucasian comic book characters into African-Americans, it really doesn’t factor much into the show, and is really a non-issue. The cast is better fleshed out by Dr. Harrison Wells played by Tom Cavanaugh, as the brilliant scientist who was inadvertently responsible for Barry’s powers, and is now helping him to control it while he studies Barry’s abilities. No superhero is without a team, and Flash has one too consisting of a cute girl playing somber and a energetic whiz kid who invents gadgets, THE FLASH is off to a running start as it immediately introduces super powered bad guys in it’s first episode, and sets up the possibilities that may be explored through out the season, as well as a shocking twist ending.
The fact that The CW is also attempting a first ever shared TV Universe with ARROW & THE FLASH existing in the same universe, this show is definitely worth a watch. Out of most mainstream DC Comic book characters, The Flash is one who strikes out as being the most optimistic, hopeful and not burdened by his traumatic past as much as the rest of them. His outlook on life is cheery and the show reflects that thus far. With the trend of comic book adaptations being dark and gritty, THE FLASH has a strong chance of destroying that formula with a superhero that embodies all the aspects of an engaging superhero story that doesn’t need to be depressive or hyper real.