The scarlet speedster is ready to make his grand entrance on The CW this Tuesday night with The Flash TV series, and we got a chance to see the pilot episode ahead of time.
We are living in a superhero world, bros.
Aside from a third season of Arrow, the debut of the Batman prequel series Gotham, a second round for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and NBC’s iteration of the Hellblazer comics with Constantine, one of the more highly anticipated fall offerings is the new The Flash TV series spun off from Arrow.
We got a chance to see the pilot episode of The Flash TV series ahead of time, and while every first episode is a bit rocky in some way or another, The Flash TV series is certainly not the worst thing on TV.
Here are a few things fans — especially the hardcore comic book fans — should know before setting expectations too high for The Flash TV series. These things will piss you off right out of the gate. There are some kind-of spoilers down the bottom but nothing that fans won’t figure out after the first episode.
Grant Gustin Is Not a Great Barry Allen
Who the heck is Grant Gustin? You’ll recognize him as the gay Warbler guy on Glee trying to steal Blaine’s heart … and, yes, we’ll keep the fact that you actually know what we’re talking about a secret. The actor beat out such other hopeful Flash-ers, like Hatfields & McCoys star Matt Barr and relatively unknown actor James Mackay, for the title role, but at the end of the end day, is Gustin a good choice for Barry Allen?
In the comics, The Flash derives his entertainment value from his speedy, near-coke-binge-like way of releasing rapid fire sass and jokes and pick-up lines for the ladies, and, oh look, he also just singlehandedly tied up a bunch of bank robbers. He’s one of those guys who thinks and acts at 1,000,000 miles a minute, which is appropriate considering his superpowers. However, Gustin and the writers of CW’s The Flash TV series seem to be taking this character in a different direction and toning down what we’re familiar with in the comics.
For now, we can give Gustin the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to, say, the writing he has to work with, and maybe things will pick up with more episodes under our belt, but if you’re expecting a faithful adaptation of the comic book character, well, sorry to burst your bubble.
All The ‘WTF?’ Moments
The Flash TV series kicks off with Barry’s origin – the head of S.T.A.R. Labs, Harrison Wells (played by Tom Cavanagh), is unveiling his big-ass particular accelerator in the middle of Central City. Obviously, things go haywire and the contraption backfires, spewing out loads of “dark matter” energy all over the city, a piece of which hits Barry and bestows him with his powers.
What’s off about this scene? The particle accelerator unveiling was opening a gala event, which seems pretty odd, right? There are a few more nitpicky details like this that’ll drive some people crazy (i.e. this guy!).
Other examples: a bank robber working alone flees from police by jumping into a plane that has mysterious already been started? Said bank robber also declares to his pursuers, “I’ve got a plane to catch.” Why would you tell them that up front? Also, “Does that include twerking?” is an actual piece of dialogue.
The Secondary Characters Kinda Suck!
Do you think the supporting characters were depicted so flatly as to make Gustin’s Barry Allen more likeable in comparison? Who knows, but I didn’t care for anyone else aside from our leading man here.
Populating the secondary characters are Iris West, Barry’s love interest, but she’s merely reduced to a caricature of someone who can’t, for whatever reason, pick up on flirtatious signals; Caitlin Snow, a S.T.A.R. Labs technician helping out Barry but who has become “frigid” (we’ll get to that tease in a little bit) after losing her husband in the explosion that gave Barry his powers; Cisco Ramone, another member of S.T.A.R. Labs and The Flash’s entourage who says stuff like, “This just keep getting cooler!”; Harrison Wells, who’s basically the Professor X of the show (and he’s also in a wheelchair!); and Detective Joe West, who’s been a father figure to Barry after his parents’ death, but is a little wary of some of his activities.
Most of these characters don’t display anything else besides these surface-level descriptions. Whether they do, in fact, have layers to them will have to be saved for episode 2 and 3.
Oh, how we love The CW’s special effects. Part of why we love Arrow so much is because it doesn’t need to rely on CG-heavy sequences, as its hero doesn’t have any superpowers, aside from his badass Robin Hood way of slinging arrows, and the showrunners behind the series even told us to not expect any extravagant superpower action.
However, this changes with The Flash TV series, which goes back to the network’s Smallville roots in bringing on the sometimes cheap-looking special effects we’ve come to know and love. The problem here is one we can already foresee because it’s happened before – these effects could potentially become worse and worse if the producers can’t keep up with the CG needed for such a weekly series.
‘The Flash’ TV series Could Easily Turn Into a “Villain of the Week” Show
This is the Weather Wizard. All you really need to know about him is that he’s the bad guy of the first episode and he can control the weather. You really don’t feel the need to learn anything else about him, and, frankly, the show doesn’t offer up the opportunity for you to do so.
Given how easy it is for shows to fall into the trap of rehashing the same basic scenarios with different characters, I’m worried The Flash TV series might digress into this same format. Oh look! It’s a new villain based on a not-so-famous comic book bad guy and now Barry has to fight him or her to save the city. We already know that the characters of Firestorm, Plastique, Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Clock King, Girder, and General Wade Eiling will be making appearances in future episodes, so it’ll be interesting to see if The Flash TV series can keep the material fresh and interesting.
Now that we’ve got all the bad stuff out of the way, here are a couple things that won’t make the fanboy in you lurch into a Hulk-like rage.
The Flash TV series — The Stuff Fans Will Actually Like
The Appearance Of Original Flash Star John Wesley Shipp
In case you didn’t know, there was another TV series of The Flash in the early ‘90s that starred John Wesley Shipp as DC’s fastest man alive. You might’ve missed it ‘cause it only lasted one season, but the lead actor has a small part to play in the pilot episode of The CW’s iteration. You’ll meet him early on in the episode portraying Barry Allen’s father. We won’t spoil what happens during his scene, but you can tell from the screenshot (above left) that it’s not good.
Do You Know Whom These Two Ladies Are Really Playing?
Danielle Panabaker of Piranha 3DD and newcomer Carlos Valdes are two of the recurring characters you’ll see quite often in the coming episodes of The Flash TV series. As Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramone, respectively, they work at S.T.A.R. Labs and help Barry Allen hone his powers, discover his true capabilities, and serve as his techy backup on The Flash TV series.
However, they’ll be taking on larger roles down the road because – and this might be considered a minor SPOILER, though comic book fans should already recognize their names – Caitlin Snow is the alter ego of comic book villain Killer Frost, while Cisco Ramone is the alter ego of Flash sidekick Vibe. Knowing The CW’s history with Arrow in honoring and teasing comic book Easter eggs, we’ll likely see the history behind these two Flash characters come to the forefront down the road.
The Flash and Green Arrow The Hood Are Best Buds
If you’re all caught up with Arrow, then you’ve already seen Barry Allen make his debut in season 2, and this cross-series relationship will still be prevalent with The Flash TV series. The same folks behind Arrow produce the new series, and, in addition to a certain surprise at the end of the pilot, episode 8 will see Felicity Smoak from Arrow making an appearance in Central City. Not only that, but Andrew Kreisberg, the executive producer of Arrow, recently said, “Episodes 8 of both shows, Arrow and The Flash TV series, are going to be a two-hour crossover event.” Hear that? That’s the sound of a million fans geek-gasming.
And there you have it! Should you watch The Flash TV series? Sure, why not? It’s not awful. Just…okay. I’m already a comic book fan, so I’ll stick around for at least the third or fourth episode to see how things continue to pan out.
The Flash TV series premieres on The CW Tuesday, October 7, at 8 p.m. EST.