Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Flash: Why you should watch!

Once upon a time there was a very special show on the WB called Everwood.  It was created and run by a guy named Greg Berlanti.  Greg was so good at creating excellent characters, compelling stories and believable situations that pulled just enough on the heartstrings that a recapper from the once and famous TWoP renamed him Greg “Damn you!” Berlanti, because every time Greg made us cry we would lift our fists in the air and shout, “Damn you, Berlanti!”

Well, Greg had done it again, damn it.

The Flash premiered on the CW a few weeks ago as a spinoff of another Berlanti juggernaut, Arrow, and thus far I’ve been consistently shaking my fist in the air.  It’s another show with great characters, excellent storytelling and a lot of heart. The perpetually late Barry Allen is a just a nerdy guy working CSI for his local police department, kind of obsessed with science in general and with the very cool particle accelerator at Star Labs in particular.  There’s a storm the night of the accelerator’s unveiling and the whole building explodes sending waves of light and lightening into the air for miles.  Barry is stuck at his lab across town and, looking out the window, actually sees the building explode. He can’t believe his eyes and as he races across the room lightening from the explosion crashes through his office and hits him.

Barry is literally struck by lightning.

Not just any lightning, though. This lighting was fueled by the particle accelerator and nine months later, when Barry finally wakes up from the lighting-induced coma, he discovers that he is the fastest man alive.

Unfortunately, lots of other people were also affected by the explosion that night and the police quickly discover that these Meta-Humans, people like Barry who now have powers, aren’t all as good and decent as Barry. These baddies serve as our Villains-of-the-Week, but there’s always a heaping side-dish of character-angst.  For instance, Barry’s mother was murdered when he was just a kid and his father was framed for it and is still sitting in Iron Heights Prison.  Barry’s not too happy about that. Barry was subsequently adopted by Joe West, the officer on the scene that night, which was good, but now Joe is Barry’s boss on the police force and not super excited that the kid he fostered and loves keeps putting himself in danger just because he has this crazy new speed.  Crazy speed doesn’t make you bullet-proof, as Joe sadly notes in episode three.

Oh, and of course there’s a girl.  Who, of course, is totally digging on another guy. Iris West is Barry’s bestie and foster-sister (which is kind of weird, I know, but they do a good job with it).  Barry’s unrequited more-than-sibling/friend affection for Iris is both adorable and painful.  You’re rooting for him right from the start.

The most interesting man in the room, though, is the guy who started it all.  Former Star Labs man about town and particle accelerator inventor, Dr. Harrison Wells, played by former Ed star Tom Cavanaugh, is the man to watch.  While Barry was in his coma, Dr. Wells and his team kept a close eye on him and when he woke up, they tried to take care of him and help figure out the strange new reality of having super-speed. Unfortunately, something is just not quite right with Dr. Wells.  He does a lot of brooding and secret-keeping.  He’s good at protecting Barry and defending him, but I’m not sure I trust him.  He’s got too many characteristics in common with Super Villains. Wells and his team work as Barry’s back-office, monitoring his whereabouts via satellite and offering helpful hints and advice (and sometimes directions) via ear piece. 

Everything about the special effects is well-done but really, what keeps me tuning in every week, especially as a non-comic book person, is the heart of the show.  In Grant Gustin, the producers have found a Barry Allen whose unashamed, un-ironic “aww shucks” face makes you want to root for the good guy, not because he’s tortured (Arrow) or angry (Batman), but because he’s an honest-to-goodness decent kid who just wants to do the right thing.

Also? Abs.  He’s got some fabulous abs.

Post by Kate

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