CW’s Flash Starts With a Bang


Derived from the success of the show “Arrow,” CW Network recently released a re-imagining of the classic DC superhero “The Flash” with a new show this October.  The show follows the story of an awkward forensic scientist named Barry Allen ( Grant Gustin of Glee fame), gifted with superhuman speed  after a lightning strike caused by a lab accident.

The plot deals with Barry learning to use his newfound speed to protect Central City as well as those he loves. The primary conflict arises with the discovery of other “meta-humans” acquiring superhuman abilities like Barry’s.  Working together with the three scientists who caused the bizarre phenomenon, Barry uses his powers to subdue the more hostile “meta-humans.”  In addition to the main episode storyline, the show introduces an underlying subplot in which Barry investigates his mother’s mysterious murder which took place when he was a child.

The plot of “The Flash” doesn’t make much of an effort to break away from that of the clichéd superhero origins tale, but it is executed competently enough to still be entertaining. With the choice of keeping his fathers alive, the show focuses more on the relationships that Barry has with both his biological and adoptive father.  It offers a presence of father figures that is too often overlooked in most superhero stories and presents a fresh perspective on the concept of the hero’s family.

Of course, for any plot to be successful, a strong cast of characters is required.  It is on this front that “The Flash” offers an eclectic band of supporting characters that vary in terms of strength in performance. The main character, Barry, characterized by his wit as a forensic scientist as well as his awkward persona, is genuinely likable.  His performance, though clichéd, is sincere enough to cause viewers to become invested in him as a character.  The most impressive part of his characterization is the establishment of the context of his choices through his backstory.  This makes his character more empathetic as it convinces the audience to root for Barry as he struggles to overcome his own personal barriers.

Though the lead character is certainly strong, less can be said about his supporting cast.  The team of scientists that help Barry to catch the “meta-humans” as well as control his powers are tolerable at best. The most interesting of the trio is Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), the man behind S.T.A.R. Lab and the one responsible for the lab accident. His intriguing personality and questionable background allow him to remain an interesting character during the opening season.

Harrison’s assistants prove to be less interesting.  Caitlin Snow, played by Danielle Panabaker  of the 2005 film Sky High, takes her place as the remarkably high strung know- it- all character that most everyone adores.  Her sidekick Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) serves as the comic relief.  The problem is that this comic relief often comes off as immature.  In fact, one of the main weaknesses of the show is its severe lack of humor.  It essentially follows the Dark Knight paradigm, striving to take itself too seriously, and coming off as simply  ridiculous at times.

What would any superhero show be without an element of romance? Unfortunately, this is another sphere where the show falls short.  The main romantic interest of our hero, Iris West Allen (Candice Patton) is by far the weakest character in the show.  The relationship between Iris and Barry is immensely one-sided, and she comes off as bothersome and insensitive.  She consistently mocks him in a way that is intended to be cute, but just comes off as rude and dense.  Ultimately, the romance feels forced and does not make any sense.  The show suffers from the clichéd concept that a superhero must have a romantic interest.  If the show wanted to incorporate a romantic element, they should have incorporated it well or not at all.

Ironically, one of the strongest supporting characters is Iris’s father Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin).  Detective Joe West serves as Barry’s adoptive father, and the conflict he has learning to put his faith in Barry and stop being overprotective is extremely well done and one of the show’s strongest points.

Important to any comic book story is the action and the cool effects. Fortunately, “The Flash” manages to deliver on these aspects quite well.  The action is dynamic and engaging for the most part, making full use of the Flash’s slightly unbelievable yet awe inspiring abilities.   Quite a few tricks are used to play on his incredible speed that heightens the action sequences.  Most episodes usually conclude with Barry facing off against another “meta-human” in a battle that is dynamic and just good fun to watch.

CW’s new show “The Flash” holds a lot of promise, especially for a show that is just getting started.  If you are a fan of the superhero formula, the show certainly has something that can appeal to you so long as you are willing to suffer through some of its minor stumbling.  Overall, its strong lead character, engaging relationships, and dynamic action sequences are enough to warrant  giving it at least a chance.