CW’s The Flash 2014 TV Series: Spoiler Free Pilot Review
The opening scene to The Flash (8 pm, Tuesdays on CW) tells us exactly the kind of television show it is. It’s a fun, contemporary super hero series that asks the audience to believe that the impossible can be possible, if only for the next hour.
The Flash doesn’t set out to redefine the genre which is not a bad thing at all. The show embraces its comic book origins in a way that is accessible to new and old fans alike.
What sets The Flash apart from other comic book based shows such as Gotham, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and even Arrow is that its lead character has super powers. It’s refreshing that while the amazing feats of The Flash aka Barry Allen are not grounded in realism, his personality and emotional reactions feel genuine.
Tragedy at a young age may have shaped Barry’s life but it doesn’t define him. He’s far from a stoic, brooding vigilante and the tone of the show reflects that.
In addition to a super powered protagonist, the lighter tone gives it a different feel over its CW counterpart Arrow, the show it spun off from. Barry is ecstatic about his new-found powers and he’s doesn’t hold back from expressing himself. It’s hard not to get caught up in the exuberance of a hero who’ll shout “Yahoo!” at 396 mph.
The pilot shows us that Barry’s physics defying abilities didn’t turn him into an overnight (or more accurately 9 month coma) super hero. Even before he got his powers, Barry was a good-hearted person and a man of action. It’s just that he now has the means to make a significant difference.
Carrying almost every scene in the pilot, Grant Gustin’s performance is admirable as Barry Allen: forensic assistant by trade and the fastest man alive by a strike of lightning.
Gustin’s on-screen chemistry with Candice Patton as Iris West is instant and likeable. The “will they or won’t they” dynamic is over used but their quippy dialogue makes their scenes fun and engaging.
The rest of the diverse supporting cast have readily identifiable personalities even if their names don’t catch on. The stand out actor is Tom Cavanagh as Dr. Wells, he delivers the scientific jargon with a natural ease and authority. Veteran actor Jesse L. Martin plays Detective Wells, his relationship with Barry Allen is pretty complicated since he’s not only the boss but a surrogate dad and father of Iris.
Danielle Panabaker as Dr. Caitlin Snow and Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon are noticeably less seasoned actors, it may take several episodes to get a better handle on what they can bring to the sidekick role.
Director David Nutter, the guru behind the pilot of many successful shows like Supernatural and Arrow, establishes the framework from which subsequent episodes can hopefully live up to. Intricate stunt work, explosions, and special effects are jammed into an extremely quick-paced 42 minutes run time.
A minor quibble though is that while a series of well done flashbacks show us the back story instead of explaining it, there is a huge amount of information to take in. And as cool as the villain of the week is, they function more like a plot device to exemplify an aspect of our hero rather than a completely fleshed-out character on their own.
Yet nitpicks aside, the most impressive part of The Flash’s pilot is that it has heart and emotion. One of the final scenes in the pilot is surprisingly touching. If there’s any doubt that Grant Gustin is a capable lead actor, he clearly demonstrates a knack to convey heartfelt dialogue and empathy.
Although there are some flaws, The Flash is off to a good start. When a hero’s journey is mixed with as much hopefulness, drama and a strong central character it’ll be worth tuning in each week to see how far and fast it can go.
What do you think of The Flash so far? How do you compare it with other comic book TV shows?