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TV REVIEW: The Flash Series Premiere “I need you to believe in the impossible”

BY The Screen Spy Team

Published 7 years ago

By Justin Carter

“I need you to believe in the impossible.”

These are some of the first words spoken by Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen in the first two minutes of The Flash. The impossible in this case doesn’t just apply to Barry being able to run at supersonic speeds, but also to a connected DC television universe that’s being made. As a spinoff of Arrow, which itself defied expectations and ended up being great, Flash has a reputation to uphold and expectations to live up to.

Barry first made an appearance in the midseason two-parter last year on Arrow, ending with him getting zapped with lightning as the Central City particle accelerator went off. The show jumps ahead nine months after that, with S.T.A.R. Labs disgraced and in ruins, and Barry coming out of his coma and discovering he has super speed. Star’s chief scientist Harrison Wells and his assistants, Cisco Ramon and Caitlin Snow, want to study Barry’s condition while Barry thinks his time is better spent finding others who were affected by the particle accelerator and perhaps figure out who killed his mother when he was a kid.

DC has been previously known and mocked for being ‘dark and gritty’, with some of that being admittedly deserved. The Flash thankfully is anything but; despite the series’ connection to Arrow, which is more often than not dark and dramatic, Flash instead chooses to go for a more adventurous tone. It’s refreshing to see a superhero use his powers and enjoying them with actual glee, and Gustin does a great job at conveying Barry’s excitement at his new abilities. While his transition to donning the traditional costume is a bit too quick, there’s no denying the thrill of watching Barry run around at high velocity speeds, not unlike watching Tony Stark fly in the Iron Man armor for the first time, or seeing Peter Parker swing around New York.

Gustin is clearly excited to be doing this, and that energy extends to the rest of the cast. Candice Patton is charming at Iris West, and Jesse L. Martin is great as her father. Tom Cavanaugh is subdued and gives off an air of arrogance as Wells, and Danielle Panabaker plays Snow appropriately cold. The two cast members fans may either love or hate is Carlos Valdes’ Cisco. Valdes plays him with a childlike wonder at Barry’s abilities (part of this is because of his face), and I’m a bit worried the show will try to make him be what Arrow’s Felicity is to the hero, equal parts witty nerd and motivational speaker, though probably without the possible romance. Another will be Rick Cosnett’s Eddie Thawn, who doesn’t get a lot to do in this episode besides kiss Iris and be a sarcastic dick. The villain of the week doesn’t get many lines, and in fact I nearly forgot his name at one point, but he’s merely a vehicle to set up the ‘particle freaks’ storyline and give Barry an enemy to face.

Like Arrow, Flash is more than happy to leave some references for the comic book fans. Some are subtle and will require rewatches, others blatantly obvious, but nonetheless exciting. Flash fans will love the possible story thread that comes from a license plate reading ‘Grodd’, along with two at the end that I won’t spoil. If you’re a fan of Arrow, you’ll be happy to hear that Arrow and Barry will team up in the eighth episodes of both series, with the possibility of another crossover down the line. Oliver Queen makes a cameo for a few minutes, giving Barry a pep talk in the same way Felicity would give him one. His dialogue is predictably cheesy–I love Stephen Amell, but I can’t tell you how hard I groaned at “Maybe that lightning bolt chose you”–but the exchange of “cool” between both characters as they watch each other display their abilities is nothing short of cool.

Overall, The Flash is fun, a red and yellow blur of promise and potential. It’s got a good pace, a charming lead, and an adventurous tone. If the series can keep this up and stay strong without relying on Arrow, it’s possibilities are infinite.

 

Additional Notes:

  • “Lightning gave me abs?” Never not funny.
  • Before the lightning bolt, Barry does some forensic work, conveyed via text and measurements like Sherlock with text messages. If the show plays up his forensic mind, I hope this returns, because it’s a novel idea in crime series.
  • That ending. Look out for more than just one easter egg, that’s all I’ll say.
  • If you want a place to start with the Flash comics, I hear the New 52’s Flash, originally by Brian Buccelatto and Francis Manapul is consistently great.
  • Honestly, I never would’ve guessed that Barry would like “Poker Face.” I really hope we get a scene of him running set to Lady Gaga at some point.

The Flash will have new episodes Tuesdays at 8/7 PM CST on the CW.

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