Features TV

SERIES PREMIER REVIEW: The Flash 1×01 “City of Heroes”

The time has finally come. The leaves are changing, the temperature is a dropping, and new TV series are premiering. One of the most anticipated series this year happens to be one of the comic variety, The Flash which is a spin-off of one of my personal favorite shows on television Arrow. In case you do not watch Arrow or simply missed the two episodes in which Barry Allen (portrayed by Grant Gustin) made his spectacular debut last year, this show will be a direct continuation from the events of “Three Ghosts.” There are right now two camps of fans: those who are cautiously optimistic and those who are super pumped for Barry to be back on TV. Luckily, I can safely report that if the pilot is any indication of what we can expect this year we are in for a treat. Within the forty six minute run time we are treated to a strong origin story, some interesting side characters, and enough nerdy easter eggs that even the Bunny himself would be surprised. So let’s dive in.

Even if this wasn’t a “Pilot” episode, The Flash makes a damn good first impression with the first nine minutes being squarely dedicated to Barry’s pre-accident life, with most of the action taking place the morning after he leaves Starling in “Three Ghosts.” A lot of the classic Barry traits are exhibited: his constant tardiness, his amazing analytical mind using a nod to Sherlock, his flustered nature around Iris. Each note Gustin manages to hit with relative precision and it is clear that the two episodes of Arrow helped the writer’s appropriately depict the mannerisms that make Barry who he is. Everything accelerates once we see Barry suffer his accident on that fateful night, which was once again very satisfying to watch. It is clear from this episode that The Flash is going to seemingly be a much lighter show in terms of tone as we constantly see Barry enjoying his powers and finding out just exactly what he can do. This easily will help to separate it from the earlier part of season one of Arrow, where Ollie was always a sad, vengeful A-hole.

Of course Barry running around and experiencing his powers for the very first time is great, and make no mistake for the budget they are working with, the production is truly top notch. What really helped to separate this pilot and make it enjoyable was how damn likable and dynamic most of the side characters are. Dr. Harrison Wells and Detective West, Tom Cavanagh and Jesse L. Martin respectively, really make the most of their screen time and set up a unique dynamic for Barry’s three fathers. Yes, I said three fathers as John Wesley Shipp, the original 1990 Flash, plays Barry’s wrongly incarcerated father Henry Allen. The scene between Shipp and Gustin is easily one of the best of the entire episode and I really hope that Henry is given more screen time as we move forward with the series. Wells, a seemingly self made man is a rather interesting character to insert into Barry’s life as he is everything Barry strives to be as a scientist but if the final scene is any indication he may not entirely be on the up and up. This is easily the least goofy role I have seen Cavanagh in and he manages to capture the right mixture of arrogance and humility in Wells.

As for the more CW-esque members of the cast I will say they are much more hit or miss unfortunately. Weirdly enough Cisco Ramon and Eddie Thawne, Carlos Valdes and Rick Cosnett, manage to come off as the most well rounded side characters with the most personality. Cisco in particular could rub some people the wrong way with how goofy he is, but for me he hit the exact right balance between humor and actual usefulness. Dannielle Panabaker’s, Caitlin Snow comes of as cold and rather emotionless, which I guess is a good thing considering her comic book roots and the loss she has suffered, I just wish she could emote a little more moving forward. Unfortunately the weakest member of the main cast at this point is Iris, as portrayed by Candice Patton. She just manages to come off as only CW bait and not an actual vibrant character, I am positive this will change but for the time being I shall be cautiously optimistic about her chances to improve.

The only part of the episode that floundered was the villain of Clyde Mardon, The Weather Wizard. Although he had a cool power and a couple of really visually fun face offs with Barry we got no characterization of who he was until his final scenes. Even then they were so hokey and out of left field that even Detective West called him on his bullshit. I pray that the upcoming villains don’t fall into a villain of the week slog and actually get fleshed out, because for a first impression Weather Wizard, one of The Flash’s most notorious Rogues, deserved a lot better.

As for what the series hopes to be and how it will connect to Arrow we got a quick glimpse at the new Ollie/Barry relationship with that great scene between Gustin and Stephen Amell. The writers are clearly developing a Justice League with Ollie and Barry squarely playing the roles usually given to Bruce and Clark, and for a real first impression it is clear that these two could give the World’s Finest a run for their buddy hero antics money. I especially enjoyed that Ollie is now squarely stepping into the mentor role for his fellow heroes as it shows how much he has progressed in such a short time, while also referencing what he aspires for the Arrow to eventually be to Starling. Also, the simultaneous “cool” was so awesome and made my nerd heart flutter for when the team up finally happens.

Overall a fantastic pilot and a great start to what I believe will be a great series.

Final Grade B+

+Grant Gustin nailed Barry Allen’s character

+Most of the side characters are extremely well fleshed out

+So many DC Cameos even I lost track

-Iris and Caitlin can be so much more

-“Why does God need to rob banks?”

Extra Thoughts

-I counted Grodd, Reverse Flash, Gambi Cleaners, Ferris Air, Final Crisis, Waynetech Merger just to name a few of the plot lines I am excited about possibly seeing.

-Please tell me the costume is going to become more Flash red in the future.

-I swear if Wells middle initial is G this show is not even being subtle about the fact he traveled through time.

-That scene where Barry get’s his powers still gives me goosebumps.

-OK so 70% of the people who are struck by lightning survive, how does the EMT not know this and remain calm.

About the author

Scott Swartz