Finally! I did it! I finished The Flash season 1! Thank you Netflix!!!….Eh, why not? I’ll review it.
Background: The only prior exposure I have to The Flash is the DCAU’s Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoon where Flash was Wally West. I know Barry Allen from the first two episodes Young Justice I’ve seen of, Linkara’s reviews, and the JLA/Avengers comic crossover…and that’s it. I know nothing else. I especially know nothing else because this version is based mainly on the New 52 comics line of which I’ve only read Batman and Batgirl.
And yes, I’m aware The Flash is a spinoff of Arrow. I haven’t seen Arrow. I’ll get to it eventually. There’s over 3 season to get through and if all goes well, I’ll be caught up by the start of Flash season 3….don’t look surprised that it might get a third season.
Okay, where to start with this? Well, I started watching Flash on Hulu, mainly because I don’t use my TV much (Have you seen the thing? It’s tiny!). Reason I started with it and not Arrow? Well, Flash looked more fun. I get enough grimy and gritty superhero from Batman and, well let’s face it, Green Arrow was originally a Batman rip off. He even had an Arrow Cave! I’m more used to Marvel and its fun, so Flash looked similar enough for a DC series. I’m so glad I did start it, because it did not disappoint. And yes, there are some crossovers with Arrow, but the ‘Previously on’ segments at the beginnings helped clear up missing info immensely.
WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS FOR THE FLASH SEASON 1
So, Barry Allen, played by Grant Gustin, is a young forensic scientist living in Central City, Missouri. After his mother was killed by something mysterious and his father wrongly went to prison for it when he was a child, he was adopted by a family friend and cop, Detective Joe West, played by Jesse L. Martin, and his daughter Iris, played by Candice Patton, an aspiring journalist who Barry has a crush on. One day, after a Particle Accelerator made by one of Barry’s scientific heros Dr. Harrison Well, played by Tom Cavanagh, explodes Barry falls into a nine month coma. Upon awakening, he discovers that he has gained superspeed, the same power as the person who killed his mother, as well as a nifty healing factor. With the help of a now paraplegic Wells and his two remaining scientists, the geeky young engineer genius Cisco, played by Carlos Valdes, and the straight laced bioengineer Dr. Caitlin Snow, played by Danielle Panabaker, Barry protects Central City from other Meta-Humans created by the Accelerator explosion and find who really killed Barry’s mother. All the while, Dr. Wells hides a dark secret.
I gotta say, there was a lot about this show that surprised me. For one thing, while this is also half a cop show, and goodness knows I love my crime dramas (part of the reason I like superheros to begin with), all of the problems are solved through science and technology. The police are there and play a role, but ultimately it’s Barry and his team who solve the problem with their smarts. Something else unique, Barry doesn’t hide his secret from his family….by that I mean Joe, but still he tells the adult he trusts the most, his father figure. The only other superhero I’ve heard of whose family and friends knew his identity off the bat was the third Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes, during his initial comic run back in the mid 2000s. The love triangle also isn’t terrible and Iris’s boyfriend and Joe’s partner, Detective Eddie Thawne, played by Rick Cosnett, is actually a very likeable character and the show doesn’t make us hate him.
Not to mention all the diversity in this show! Half the main cast is non-white, the love interest included, the police captain is openly gay, not a stereotype, AND no one bats an eye at it, most of the scientists in the series are shown to be women, even if some are evil, as are the district attorneys shown, none are damsels in distress, they all have their own arcs, and they are written as actual people. Yes, Iris is kept out of the loop to “protect her” like they do for most superhero love interests, but eventually the show grows past that.
The writing in this show phenomenal. The plot moves efficiently over the full 23 episode run, nothing feels like filler, everything seems planned out even the crossover episodes with Arrow (and yes, there are quite a few of those mainly involving Arrow character Felicity Smoak, who shows up in almost every crossover), and I’m no scientist, but all the technobabble the characters spout makes sense. Nearly every episode expands Barry’s powers, or develops the characters, or introduces another crucial plot element, or sometimes all three and more. There’s always something that comes back in a later episode.
But probably one of the best parts of Flash is just how much it revels in the fact that it’s based on a comic book. It’s like the Marvel films in that regard. It knows its source material and embraces it. This is especially strange for something from DC, again I’ve never seen Arrow but most live action stuff from DC tends to either play down or outright ignore the fact it was based on a comic book. Flash doesn’t do that. There are shoutouts to other comic book heros, mainly Green Arrow but still, Cisco actually names all the bad guys and metahumans, and some of the characters heavily featured or mentioned are future superpowered characters. Hell, they got Clancy Brown, best known for voicing Lex Luthor, to be an important character. The serious moments are still serious, but it just knows when to have fun. And it is fun.
Honestly, this is probably the best written show I’ve seen in awhile. Heck, not just written, just best show, …not counting the Marvel and other comic shows of course. IZombie and Gotham are both great as well. The cast is great, the story is great, the effects, costumes, everything’s just great. It’s on Netflix, go watch it. Then watch the second season on Hulu. You have no idea how happy I am that so many geek shows got another season, especially since Hannibal was canceled….Yes, I’m still bitter, but this show helps.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go see The Martian again.
(Photo via The CW)