TV Review: The Flash — Pilot

TheFlashAs a general rule of thumb Pilot episodes are flawed beasts. At best you hope that they will seed enough inter­est­ing elements for a show to build on. There are excep­tions of course, but it’s hard to both build a new world, intro­duce your char­ac­ters and set up the core plot elements in 45 minutes. Some­thing usually has to give.

The Flash is defi­nitely flawed in this first out. But it does also show a lot of poten­tial.

There’s a lot of elements here that scream CW Series to me. For a start we have a very young cast with Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, Candice Patton as Iris West, Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow and Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon taking center stage. And in the early stages of the episode they seem to seed the usual youth-centric plot­li­nes (love trian­gles etc.) that the CW is known for. None of the cast seem bad mind you. Just a little bland and generic right now. But… very early days.

the-flashA couple of older actors anchor things however. Jesse L. Martin spent a good number of years on Law and Order so he has no trou­ble fill­ing out the role of Detec­tive Joe West even with the limited mate­rial he has at this stage. Simi­larly Tom Cavanagh has more than enough expe­ri­ence to give Dr. Harrison Wells a likable qual­ity even when the script is hint­ing at darker things.

And the script does a lot of hint­ing. Because once Barry is back on his feet and every­one has been prop­erly intro­duced the pace picks up signif­i­cantly and that’s when we see signs of what the show could become.

For a start they are making heavy use of comic book conti­nu­ity here. I don’t know how faith­ful exactly they plan on being to it, but if you look at most of the core elements of The Flash’s origin and the char­ac­ters, they are in place. Beyond that, this episode gives us Weather Wizard as the villain. Sure it doesn’t call him Weather Wizard but that’s clearly who the char­ac­ter is by his power set.

But they’re just getting warmed up with that one. Not only is STAR Labs a major loca­tion in the show, there’s a brief scene where we see a broken cage with the name Grodd on it. And then there’s the police detec­tive whose last name is Thawne. A very impor­tant name in Flash history. And speak­ing of names Cisco Ramon is the civil­ian name of Vibe in the comics while Caitlin Snow is the civil­ian name of Killer Frost.

Are all these char­ac­ters going to follow the comics route? Maybe, maybe not. But the pilot makes it absolutely certain that unlike Arrow we are going to see lots of people with super­pow­ers. Basi­cally the setup with the explo­sion acti­vat­ing the powers of people in the city guar­an­tees us plenty villain of the week style episodes.

But there is a larger plot line. Barry’s mother seems to have died as a result of a strange yellow and red streak. An effect that looks very simi­lar to how Barry looks when he speeds.Of course again, in the comics, there is an evil speed­ster who wears yellow and red. And then there’s Dr. Harrison Wells who is defi­nitely more than he seems. Whether the acci­dent actu­ally was an acci­dent is up for debate right now, as is what his end game really is.

So yes lots of elements put into place in this first episode. Lots of poten­tial to be mined.

Inter­est­ing enough where the show felt at its weakest to me was during the Arrow cameo. Although the shows are clearly set in the same universe (as previ­ously estab­lished) and in fact in a universe that contains Wayne Enter­prises, they are styl­is­ti­cally and tonally very differ­ent and it showed in this scene.

flash-logo-cwBarry Allen, as he should be, is much less grim and mopey than Oliver Queen. He also inhab­its a world that is full of super­pow­ers. They don’t feel like they really belong together. The CW have sched­uled the shows for two differ­ent nights rather than having a block of DC shows. I think that was a good call.

I should talk about the special effects. I was pleas­antly surprised. Keep in mind that this is 1) A CW show (so the budget won’t be that high) and 2) a pilot episode. There’s noth­ing here that’s going to compare to a block­buster movie. But what they did worked. The Weather Wizard’s tornado was more than pass­able and most impor­tantly the way they handled the Flash and his super-speed worked well.

Their default effect was some­thing that strongly evoked the look of the comic books with a blur crack­led with light­ning. But they also gave us moments of time seem­ing to slow or stop as we saw how Barry was perceiv­ing time. Again noth­ing ground break­ing, but compe­tent and I hope they explore that more in the series.

So this is firmly in the tradi­tional network tv mold of series tele­vi­sion. But it’s done all the right things and set up all the elements it needs to to become must see network tv.

Or it could just throw it all away on tedious romance subplots. It’s a risk with the CW.

About Eoghann Irving

Overly opinionated owner and author of You can get updated on his posts directly on the blog here or through the usual social networking suspects. What? You expected me to say something interesting here? That's what the blog posts are for. Eoghann has often wondered if people read these little bio things we have to fill out everywhere on the internet and, assuming they do, why?