Being nearly 30, I’m old enough to remember watching the first pilot for the first show back when I was a young lad with my dad. This is what endeared me to the character, long before I ever laid eyes on a Flash comic. John Wesley Shipp was really my first Flash and while the acting on the show was a little off and some of the episodes were a little cheesy, the show still holds a very special place in my heart. Fast forward more than twenty years later and The Flash has come full circle. He’s back on TV with a good actor in the role and some interesting little twists.
I’m not going to spoil too much here, although I’m not sure what DC and the CW haven’t revealed to us. Personally I miss the good old days where we found out about a TV show as we watched it, but alas in this new world of social media and 24/7 news cycles everyone wants to know everything even before it happens. I’m not going to follow this trend too closely.
Having watched the newest pilot over thirty times I have to say that I love what Grant Gustin brings to the role of The Flash. Although I believe he has a Peter Parker-like vibe (especially as far as appearance) I still think he does a great job of bringing the best qualities of Barry Allen to the forefront; his excitable geeky nature, his awkwardness, and him genuinely being a good person. I have to admit that I wasn’t too thrilled with them keeping Barry’s revised comic book origins from The Flash: Rebirth but they pulled it off brilliantly. I really feel for Barry and his obsession with finding the truth about what happened to his mother and I can completely identify with his loss of a father figure and finding a new one in Detective Joe West. I also like that they showed him using the forensic portions of his character. Barry is intelligent and a bit of a detective in his own right both due to law enforcement training and also due to honing his skills while searching for clues about the mysterious person that murdered his mother and they’ve captured this aspect flawlessly. Completely unrelated, but I’m also happy that Barry doesn’t own a car (just like me) and they kept the recurring theme of him always being late.
Bravo on the casting of Jesse L. Martin in the role of Joe West. He definitely has the chops to bring some gravitas to the series. Especially considering that every other member of the cast is fairly young (with the exception of Tom Cavanagh). Joe grounds the series in a way that the other characters have yet to do and gives us a stark contrast to Barry. While Joe raised Barry after his mother was killed and his father was jailed he never really believed Barry’s fantastical story about “the man in the lightning” and consequently tried fruitlessly to keep Barry anchored in reality over the years. Having watched him for years on Law & Order it is nice to see a familiar face. He also provides a nice alternative to the somewhat flighty (so far), Iris West (Candice Patton), his daughter and Barry’s adopted sister. Joe West starts out partnered with Fred Chyre (Al Sapienza), who long-time Flash readers will remember from Wally West’s supporting cast, but unfortunately that does not last long. Joe is later partnered with suspiciously named, Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett), Thawne being the last name of Barry’s greatest enemy Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash. It is later revealed he is dating Iris.
Iris West played by Candice Patton has the dubious pleasure of uttering the worst line of the whole pilot (something about twerking, ugh) but overall seems like a passable actress. It is easy to see that she is super-attractive but she doesn’t really seem like Barry’s type (which admittedly has always been the case, even in the comics). Going back to Barry’s appearance on Arrow, I have to wonder if Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) will take on the role of Patty Spivot from the comics, who seems to have a lot more in common (at least on the surface) with Barry than Iris. It is obvious that we won’t see a relationship between Barry and Iris develop until much later, but it is awesome that they actually ended up including her in the series on a regular basis as opposed to the original show that wrote her out after the first episode.
As far as the rest of the cast goes, S.T.A.R. Labs employees, Danielle Panabaker (Dr. Caitlin Snow), Carlos Valdes (Cisco Ramon), and the big mystery person of the series so far, Tom Cavanagh (Dr. Harrison Wells) all add a little bit of something interesting to the pilot. Cisco and Caitlin were first introduced to us during the Arrow backdoor pilot and are considerably less annoying than in their first appearance. I like that each character has a specialty that gives Barry some advantages. Cisco is the tech guy who designs and builds Flash’s suit and as comic book aficionados will note is the alter-ego of formerly deceased character, Vibe. Dr. Caitlin Snow specializes in bio-engineering and has a tragic past that we’ve already learned will play into the introduction of yet another comic character. Dr. Wells is definitely hiding something that I’m sure will be a major plot point throughout the series. I loved the call-back to the original series with the presence of S.T.A.R. Labs and even the recreation of the testing sequence on the track.
The more I see of the suit the more it grows on me. I still think it is a little too dark but for what it is they kept it somewhat faithful to the comic book costume. Not as faithful as the unnaturally bulky suit from the 90s show but considering all the directions they could have gone with it, not bad. The scene where they introduce the suit reminds of the scene from issue 50 of Wally West’s series where they introduce the shiny suit. The scientists use similar scientific terms like reinforced tripolymer, abrasive resistant, and so on to describe it. I really dig how they kept the real world explanation about the convenient presence of the suit. In the original series it was an experimental deep sea diving suit and in the new series is was originally designed to replace firefighter turnouts as a way to give back to the community, although that doesn’t explain how so much of it resembles a super-hero costume off the break. Maybe Cisco is a comic book nerd? The producers have also revealed that the suit is ever-evolving and we could possibly see something even closer to the original costume the further we get in the series. I wonder if the 90s show had lasted longer than a season if the suit would have had a similar evolution, especially as technology and special effects improved over the years? In any case, I’m super-excited to see where they go with it.
One of my least favorite parts of the show was the Weather Wizard (Chad Rook), or what we are supposed to think is the Weather Wizard, now renamed Clyde Mardon and a bank robber along with his brother, Mark. Clyde receives his powers in a freak lightning storm when the reactor blows in an accident that claims his brother Mark. Weather Wizard is my favorite Rogue from the comics and I can’t really say that I’m digging anything about him from this show. From the internalized powers and abilities to the random southern accent, everything about him just seems totally off. However, he did provide a great foil for our Scarlet Speedster and a credible threat to really show that The Flash can do a lot more than anyone thought he could. Also, are we sure this is who the Weather Wizard is going to end up being? Given certain events in the pilot, one can’t be too sure.
Overall, the show looks to be developing into something truly special. From the creators actually embracing the fantastical nature of The Flash’s universe, the fairly faithful adaptation of the costume and the spectacular special effects, the show really brings what is special about the Keystone Comet to life. I was already a huge fan of Arrow and now I have something else to actually look forward to on Television. Although I have to say I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Gotham, and Constantine is also forthcoming. Wow, I never thought I would live in a world where four properties from DC Comics that I actually want to watch were on television simultaneously but here we are and I wouldn’t have it any other way.