DC is definitely hitting the small screen with a vengeance this season. In addition to their highly successful property, Arrow, DC premiered Gotham this season, Constantine hits NBC in just a few weeks, iZombie will be airing on CW soon, and there are plans for a live action Teen Titans in the works, as well as plans for live action versions of Lucifer and even Supergirl. One of the most highly anticipated adaptations, however, is the Arrow spin off, The Flash. Ever since the superhero spin off was announced, fans of both Arrow and the comic book incarnation of The Flash have been excited to see just what CW had in store for them. Would it be a dark and gritty take on the character, much like Gotham is offering? Would it be a bit too heavy on the soap opera side, such as Smallville had a tendency to lean? Flash fans can rest assured now that the premiere has finally aired. Not only was the pilot episode of the new series a separate creature unto itself, it was a perfect way to introduce Barry Allen, aka, The Flash.
The series starts out as pretty much any DC origin story: a traumatic, mysterious event leaves a child motherless. Though, in this case, the circumstance surrounding the death are a bit more puzzling than in most stories. For quick eyed fans of the comic book series, the perpetrator of this crime will ring a few bells.
Fast forward to the present and young Barry Allen seems to have grown up just fine without a mother, though he still carries the memory of that trauma with him. Barry is a very capable crime scene investigator for the Central City Police who works closely with the detective who took him under his wing after Barry’s mom died. Thanks to a freak accident with a particle accelerator over at S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry quickly becomes the Fastest Man Alive, The Flash.
Most pilots tend to be a bit on the boring or long winded side and you have to give the series a few episodes to grow into itself. This is NOT the case with The Flash. The series starts out strong within the first few seconds and just keeps going. I was more than a bit surprised, though very pleasantly, when I realized just how different the series is from Arrow. I will be completely honest here – I am one of the few geeks out there who doesn’t love Arrow. I find it to be rather boring and feel that it would love to be a Batman series if only the Powers That Be would let it. So, naturally, when I heard that The Flash would spin off into his own series, I was a bit hesitant to go all in. I was worried that the tone of the series would follow in the steps of its parent and CW was giving viewers more of the same. I couldn’t have been more wrong; more than that, I have never been so happy to be wrong when it comes to a television show.
Fans of the comic book series know that Barry Allen is a completely different character than Batman or even Green Arrow, and luckily the creative team behind the series understands this simple truth as well. Then again, Geoff Johns, who is no stranger to writing the character, is part of that writing team and it looks like he is going to do what he can to maintain the integrity of the character. Producer Greg Berlanti is also no stranger to the superhero genre and his resume includes some pretty fun titles (we are willing to ignore that he also wrote 2011’s Green Lantern). As a matter of fact, the main creative team behind the series also includes Andrew Kreisberg, who was tapped to write a Booster Gold television series for Syfy. The team knows how to handle superheroes and it definitely shows.
The team was smart to largely avoid mentioning its dad, Arrow, but there is a moment in the pilot episode in which Arrow and Flash have a conversation and, really, this is the only moment of the episode that felt out of place. It was a bit silly and gimmicky and was completely unneeded. That being said, I am sure that Arrow fans may disagree and may even cheer the scene but from a technical standpoint, that was the only misfire in the entire episode.
Anytime a comic book property is adapted, there are so many different points to hit and loops to jump through that it is tough to maintain the balance between writing for the public and writing for the fans. Johns and Co. manage this tightrope beautifully and even if you are not an avid reader of The Flash, there is plenty to enjoy in the series. Grant Gustin is perfectly cast as Barry and within moments of appearing on screen, audiences will immediately enjoy his personality. He plays Barry with a bit of Peter Parker style geekiness mixed with Clark Kent’s wholesomeness. It sounds like a weird combination but it plays out perfectly. Tom Cavanagh is wonderfully mysterious as the wheelchair bound Harrison Wells and fans will be trying to figure out the mystery behind the man the moment the pilot ends. Especially when it comes to that WHOPPER of an Easter Egg!
All in all, everyone involved, from show creators to cast, really pulled this one off and the pilot was a hell of a lot of fun. As mentioned, the only point in the episode that I had any complaints about was the Arrow scene but take that for what it’s worth. Other than that, this was one of the most solid pilots in recent memory. In a couple of weeks, we will see the launch of another new DC based series, Constantine. We can only hope that the team behind that one is as strongly versed in superhero as this team is because The Flash sets a new standard and the bar has been raised.