So I had an opportunity to catch the pilot of CW’s interpretation of The Flash last week and I have waited ’til now to post on it as I didn’t want to ruin things for anyone. Spoilers are never appreciated.
The following is fairly riddled with spoilers. I try to keep most of them out (especially the big one towards the end… y’know the one where they all die?) but just in case, spoiler-free summary followed by a “Read-More Line”:
Not bad. Iris’ character was a classic misogynistic stereotype right out of CW’s playbook and Jesse L. Martin’s character was perfect until he said a line that basically contradicted itself and his actions undo the entire tone of the episode.
Also, the “Build-A-Bear” team of scientists who know how to make the perfect super hero out of Barry are a funny trio together. Apart, I can’t imagine there’s any potential of quality scenes with them outside of Tom Cavanagh’s Dr. Harrison Wells. Though the name dropping in this series is pretty great and it seems that’s where this team fits in. Thankfully, name dropping is not as obligatory as Flash‘s predecessor, Arrow.
The series has a solid start with this pilot, or at least more solid than Arrow had. For me, strength in a pilot comes from a sense that the series has a long-game and direction. Television and film scripts should not be written without the end in mind, especially film. If one is in the business of writing teleplays, it seems like an excruciatingly large mistake to write a show that you have no direction for. This is honestly how the first half of Arrow felt for me, which is (mostly) why I abandoned the series.
The Flash has something different to it. The vibe (heh) that this pilot gives off is that the writers, Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, & Geoff Johns, aren’t just world building. They wrote a first episode that hits the ground running. It establishes the present and future of the series and wraps the package up quite nicely.
It seems like the expectations of early episodes being reminiscent to Smallville’s “freak-of-the-week” will be a fad for a time being. Dr. Harrison Wells’ particle accelerator has created a justifiable (though scientifically improbable) excuse to introduce new villains. This is a plot device that feels very comic book but not too camp or ridiculous that the non-comic viewers can’t get behind it.
Soon after season one though, I am expecting a full frontal assault on timeline’s and future versions of Barry. This is of course based on the eerie and curious post-credit scene with Tom Cavanagh’s Dr. Wells.
Cavanagh does a great job as the would-be sage/wiseman who leads Barry out of the abyss. But the true show stealer in the pilot is Jesse L. Martin. His interactions with every actor bring their talents to a fulfilling satisfaction. His chemistry as an adoptive father to Gustin’s Barry is not only something you want to believe is a real relationship, but by episode’s end it delivers as one of the only true relationships in the episode.Though I hope we haven’t heard the end of Barry’s father. Shipp’s stellar montage scene with Gustin is a tearful reminder of how awesome he is and how great the failed 90’s Flash series on CBS was/could’ve been.
Although I smell a career reboot coming.
The topic of relationships leads me around to Candice Patton who plays the strikingly beautiful Iris West. Iris, who in the comics is of course the connecting piece between Barry’s Flash and Wally’s Kid Flash/The Flash (version 2… 3 if you count Jay Garrick), is also Barry’s love interest. Iris is a bombshell and she is a character that has potential to own the page when she appears on it. She is witty, intelligent, engaging, and attractively sarcastic.
In this episode she is beautiful, wonderful, and sort of obtuse. As in mildly as dumb as a rock. CW takes all the qualities of femininity that they profit from the most and accentuate those traits only. Her brash tone to Barry and roll of the eyes when “he gets all sciency” and “nerds out” doesn’t come off as tough love from the sister/friend/crush, it comes off as demeaning diatribe from a person who is either ignorant or mean, or maybe both. None of these traits fit the Iris I know from the comics and none of them are what was intended, obviously. But by trying to make that quirky crush type girl who Barry’s little heart pitter-patters for, the sexy vixen that CW needs in all of thir shows (x5 on Arrow), is all Iris seems to be. She has no substance, no quality, nothing. She fits that obnoxious stereotype that CW banks on and it just pisses me off that they went that direction with a character like her. But props for having a woman of color as the female lead.
(Now give Static Shock his own show.)
Another quirk that bugs me is that waaaayyy too many people are aware that he has these super powers. Though the Flash typically hasn’t had as hard a time with identity secrecy as other DC heroes, (maybe with Wally as an exception), it’s still an imperative element in the make-up of the superhero.
I was most disappointed by the fact that Weather Wizard was shot. Though it’s not confirmed he’s dead (I mean we see a body bag, but it’s a comic-based show so no assumptions), it seems like a pretty brutal and dark direction to take the end of the episode. Then the weird conversation between Detective West and Barry where West realizes Barry had been right all along, (which it took a fight between two metahumans to figure out. Not a very good detective without Barry there to cime-scene for ya, huh?) Detective West then tells Barry that his father is innocent (not maybe, but is). This is then followed up with “but don’t tell Iris anything about your powers.” Seems legit right?
This is a shortsighted and pointless line. Obviously it’s meant simply to be a point of contention between the two later in the series, ala Captain Stacey to Peter in Amazing Spider-Man (the comic and the films). Yet, I feel like there’s a more dramatic and believable way to lead into that than dropping a random line in the last five minutes of the episode in a very Peter-Parker-walking-away-from-Norman-Osborn’s-grave type deal.
Typing this out now, I realize the writers are very reliant on comic book tropes for their crises and conflicts rather than produce original concepts/contentions. I suppose it’s a fault more related to the genre as a whole, but still. How many times has this plot been done?
The show is not amazing, but for a pilot it’s a great start. If you didn’t get a chance to catch it, I would say try to make the effort but no criticism if you don’t. It might not be for everyone and to be completely frank, though the show had a decent enough start in comparison to Arrow, but it has a long way to go before I give it two thumbs up.
‘Til next Tuesday, stay Flashy!