What We're Watching: The Flash Pilot

The Flash
CW
Begins on Tuesday, October 7

How is it October already? I mean, jeez, it seemed just yesterday the television season was ending and now all the shows are coming back in full swing and I’m having fall time allergy attacks that leave me couch-bound for three days (which is why no blog posts the last few days, sorry). I hope you’ve found a new show or two to obsess over (Gotham, anyone?).

One of the other shows we were able to get a sneak peek of while at Comic Con in July was The Flash, the DC spinoff to the CW’s Arrow. We were actually lucky enough to see it twice in two days, and considering we sat through both showings happily, I think that should probably give you a pretty good idea of what our overall impression was for the pilot. So here are some quick thoughts to get you excited for the debut next Tuesday, October 7.

SPOILERS FOR BASIC PLOT SETUP OF THE SERIES

The Flash picks up right before the end of the episode of Arrow where Barry Allen gets zapped by the super powered lightning bolt of magic. We see a bit more of Barry as an inept CSI scientist before he gets struck and enters a six month coma. The rest of the episode is a sunny look into Barry discovering his powers with a slight overcasting of his drama-filled family life.

From the pilot, it’s clear that The Flash is going to be a lighter show than Arrow, foregoing the grimdark of Sterling City. It only makes sense considering the bright red jumpsuit Barry is running around in by the end of the pilot. It’s hard to be grimdark in red leather. He’s also a more happy-go-lucky type of guy with a positive outlook, especially compared to Oliver Queen. This is surprising considering his dad is in jail after being falsely accused of the death of his wife over a decade before, and Barry is the only one convinced of his innocence.

Grant Gustin plays Barry with barely concealed glee, which I actually liked. He looks like he’s having fun as the Scarlet Speedster as he should. I don’t know how well he’ll be able to handle the more dramatic moments that are inevitable though. Having only ever seen him play a badboy prep school kid on Glee, I’m more experienced with him having material that calls for overacting rather than subtlety.

Jesse L Martin is perfect as skeptical verging on cranky Detective Joe West, father of Barry’s bestie Iris and Barry’s surrogate father figure. He is gruff, but you can see a sticky gooey center in the cracks that break in his armor by the end of the pilot. The other father-type figure (other than Barry’s actual father, played by John Wesley Shipp, who played Barry Allen in the 90s version) is scientist Harrison Wells, who had a hand in the Star Labs explosion. Played by Tom Cavanagh, there is something seriously sketchy about that guy from the moment he shows up on screen.

The other supporting characters aren’t filled in yet, including Iris, who is just the default female best friend who has no clue that Barry is madly in love with her. The science twins of Cisco & Caitlin, who previously showed up on an episode of Arrow, are just science geeks while Rick is Detective Joe’s partner, who is secretly dating his partner’s daughter. Hopefully these characters will get better fleshed out, especially Rick because I don’t want to keep seeing him as that creepy doctor guy from Vampire Diaries.

Overall The Flash is highly enjoyable, introducing a super-powered bad guy in the first episode. It seems like it will be much more in the superhero world much faster than Arrow was with Barry facing all sorts of powered villains as the secrets surrounding his mother’s death start to unravel. The special effects, especially for Barry’s run, are really good for CW standards and not distracting as I feared. The added humor gives it a distinct identity compared to its partner show, so if Arrow was too moody for you, definitely give this one a try. It’s a comic book show that isn’t afraid of embracing a little more of its silly side.