Content Warning: Mild violence (gunshot wounds and corpses shown). The show does skew towards an older audience (thus the TV-14) rating, but if your child is over ten I doubt that it will be a problem.
It’s what we’ve all been waiting for, folks. The much anticipated Flash series finally premiered last Tuesday, and even with some relatively high expectations on my part, I was not disappointed.
Announced in the wake of the huge success of Arrow, The Flash follows the story of Barry Allen, a Crime Scene Investigator with a tragic backstory. As shown in the Season 2 episode of Arrow, titled “Three Ghosts,” Barry is struck by lightning from a storm caused by a science experiment gone wrong at S.T.A.R. labs. If you haven’t seen the requisite episode of Arrow, the pilot does a nice job of recapping in the earlier part while remaining compelling for those who have seen the episode. Barry enters a coma for nine months and awakens as the fastest man alive. Grant Gustin does an admirable job as Barry Allen, managing to be the requisite, socially-awkward genius while still being cool enough to get behind as a CW superhero. The new series takes a few cues from its predecessor, but successfully creates its own feel and atmosphere, avoiding the trap of being Arrow with different camera filters. The Flash is definitely more comic book-like in nature, and so far is relatively lighter in tone. That may have something to do with the Flash being able to operate during the daytime, while the Arrow mostly operates at night. In any case, The Flash is aiming to be a great show all on its own, with crossovers built out of creativity and fan-service rather than necessity.
Also introduced in Arrow was part of Barry’s supporting cast, namely Caitlin and Carlos, which is why it’s forgivable that the attempts at their characterization is a bit light in this episode. I expect that they will be more fleshed out as the series continues. The other supporting characters got a bit more screen time, and thus came off as actual characters. The set-up, while a bit familiar, was very well done, and the hour was very well-managed. The team managed to show the Flash’s origins, character introductions, a character arc for Barry, and the take-down of a villain, all without ever feeling rushed. It’s quite impressive, actually.
One area where this episode falters is its villain–not the showdown with the villain (because that was awesome) but the character himself. He just felt sort of wasted. The pilot uses a pretty big Flash villain, Weather Wizard. Rather than being an actual villain for the Flash to tango with, however, here he is just a common criminal who gained weather powers in the same storm that gave Barry his powers. When he gains his power, he is obviously intimidating, but he still just seems like a common criminal. There’s no real motivation there. On the positive side, this does say something about the quality episode, though, considering that this is the only substantial negative that I could find.
The biggest surprise in the pilot (aside from the ending) is how great the special effects are. The CW must have a lot of faith in this one, because there is one heck of a special effects budget. I don’t know if the effects will be quite up to this level as the series goes on, but even if later episodes aren’t as effects-heavy, so long as they remain as good as they are in the pilot, then viewers will be in for quite the thrill ride.
The Flash premier gets us off to a great start, laying the groundwork for what looks to be another hugely successful comic book series. I highly recommend adding it to your TV schedule.
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