The iconic scarlet speedster from DC Comics finally arrives to make his live-action network television debut in the CW’s “The Flash.” In its first season alone, it already races past the plethora of both superhero and general television shows and crosses the finish line, solidifying itself as one of the best new things to watch.
“The Flash” follows the story of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) who, as a child witnesses a mysterious figure in a streak of light kill his mother who he dubs as “The Man in Yellow.” The police subsequently arrested and imprisoned his father (John Wesley Shipp) for the false allegation of killing Barry’s mother. Since the incident, Barry is placed in the custody of Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), his father’s best friend, who lives with his only daughter Iris West (Candice Patton). Now, as a young adult, Barry works as a forensic scientist in the Central City Police Department along with West and hotshot detective Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett).
One night in Central City, the scientific laboratory known as S.T.A.R. Labs is ready to power their device known as “The Particle Accelerator.” As it turns on, the device that was set to change history malfunctions and explodes, unleashing its massive energy all over Central City. Witnessing the event from his workplace, Barry is struck by lightning caused by the device and is put in a coma for several months. After he awakens, he is aided by the remaining S.T.A.R. Labs crew, which includes the wheelchair-bound founder of “The Particle Accelerator” Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), lab assistant Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and gadget whiz Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), who help him discover how to use his new-found super speed abilities for the city’s benefit, as well as figure out who killed his mother.
If there’s one word that defines CW’s “The Flash,” it’s fun. The entire season kept me amazed, entertained, emotionally invested and happily surprised at the various twists and turns.
Season one is brimming with confidence. Having had great success with “Arrow,” the showrunners decided to take the tenacity of that show and insert it into “The Flash” and achieve spectacular results. Right off the bat, the pilot episode radiates boldness. The show knows exactly what it is. It’s about a superhero with super-speed in which a great cast of characters help him with his story of perseverance. The good thing is that it never loses its momentum or determination. It’s rare to see such a thing, and the show is not afraid to take risks in the form of its characters, storytelling and special effects.
However, the series wouldn’t be great if it wasn’t for its alluring cast. Gustin brings the best of his acting abilities to the table both as the nerdy, clumsy Barry and the still-learning Flash. Martin plays the adoptive father of Barry with charm and care. Scenes between these particular two are a joy to watch as they have such a realistic “best-buds” chemistry. Martin in particular hooks you in with his charisma. But the most consistent actor is Cavanagh as the ever-so-elusive, mysterious and mentor-like figure to Barry and Wells. Right from the start, his subdued performance makes him one of the highlights of the show, and a personal favorite of mine.
With a superhero as fast as The Flash, special effects are absolutely required. Unlike its grounded brother “Arrow,” “The Flash” is not afraid to go all-out in that department. For a TV series, I am happy to report that the special effects used in “The Flash” are both acceptable and impressive. It’s not the CGI you’d find in modern blockbusters, and that’s perfectly fine. Sequences that involve The Flash running at extreme speeds to save the day are the most fun parts of the show. There are even some jaw-dropping moments as throughout the series we see his amazing speed being utilized in epic slow-motion sequences while he’s battling his enemies, making it a grand showcase for the special effects team.
There aren’t too many bad things I can say about “The Flash.” Knowing the CW’s reputation of sappy teen drama, there are a few instances where it seeps into the main storyline regarding its young characters. It’s cheesy and sometimes bad, but not overly terrible. With the show headlining a whopping 23 episodes in its first season, it ran (pun intended) into some obligatory filler and a few less-than-great episodes detracting from the overarching main storyline.
However, I can safely say that “The Flash” is indeed one of the best new television shows of the past year. Its confidence was a marvel to see throughout the season. While the show has its problems, they’re just small nitpicks. With its stellar cast that brings charming characters to life and the grand energy radiating from its storytelling, “The Flash” is an absolute blast to watch in the landscape of television today.
Rating: 4.5 stars