Sunday, 7 December 2014

Review: First Episode of "The Flash"

This afternoon I watched the first episode of "The Flash", the latest Super-Hero show from the CW, T.V. network. The show apparently premiered over in the US in October and we are just now getting to see it Down Under.

For those who may not be up with the world of Super Heroes, The Flash is one of the most popular of DC Comics' Heroes, a man with the gift of super-human speed. The comics world has seen a total of four 'Flashes', the most famous being Barry Allen whose 1958 debut is seen by some as inaugurating the "Silver Age" of comic books. This version, has Barry Allen (played by Grant Gustin) as a young science nerd granted his super speed by a freak accident.

What did I think of it? All up, I'd give it a B, maybe a B+. I plan to watch future episodes, but I don't see it taking a spot on my list of favourite shows.

Mild Spoilers Follow:

Things I loved about the show: it was structured in a way that drew me in and made me relate to the main character. The opening shows The Flash running at super speeds, a red blur on a map, while Barry Allen, in voice over, talks about believing in the impossible. We then get a cut-back to Barry as a kid and are then shown the great tragedy of a young Barry, his mother killed and his father, wrongly convicted for the murder.

I also think this was really well cast. For my money, the two picks of the cast so far are Danielle Panabaker and Jesse L. Martin. Martin is probably best remembered for his role as Det. Ed Green on Law Order. Here he is, once again, playing a police Detective and frankly, the role suits him like a glove. In the show, however, he has the additional role as Barry's quasi-foster father, I liked the obvious warmth he brought to the role. Panabaker plays a scientist with a tragic backstory (more on this later) but does so with a real strength, but humanity too.

I was a lot less thrilled with Gustin's performance as Allen/the Flash; don't get me wrong, Gustin can definitely act and he brings a real likeability to the role, in those moments when we are meant to feel sympathy for Barry I was moved. I was less convinced, however, during times when our hero was supposed to be resolved or persuasive. Quite frankly, a super hero, even a science-nerd  super-hero needs, in my opinion, a certain level of gravitas and Gustin just never showed me that Gravitas.

Less Mild Spoilers

As much as I enjoyed the episode, there were a few things about it I disliked. Mostly, a few tired clichés that the show insisted in using. Pannabaker's scientist, who lost her fiancée to the same accident that gave Barry his powers, is a mild example of this. The female scientist who is brilliant at her work but is all business and shows little emotion, frequently as a result of some past tragedy. Seen it before, although this is mitigated by the fact that, as I said, Panbaker does a great job playing the role.

Far worse  is Candice Patton as Barry's best/friend love interest. How many times has this been done? The shy, awkward science nerd guy whose best friend is a girl. He's in love with her, she feels platonic affection for him. She's also completely oblivious to how he feels, even though it's blindingly obvious. Maybe they are going somewhere with this, maybe, as the series goes on, they'll rework the trope into something we haven't seen before, but so far, every time those two characters are on screen together I groaned. To make things worse, they've given her the most stereotypical pretty-boy of a boy friend possible. As soon as that character appeared I saw exactly where they were going with him. *Big Sigh*

All in all, however, I liked the show. Well written, interesting story, likeable hero. Well worth a watch.

P.S. If anyone who has seen further episodes of the show reads this and wants to comment, please begin your post with a spoiler warning.

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