The Flash is a television show on CW based on the life of the Flash from DC Comics, specifically the Barry Allen Flash (there are other Flash(es?) as well). The first season started last year and ended last month after a rather long 23 episode run.
In The Flash, Barry Allen works as CSI for the Central City Police Department. Barry’s mother was murdered by an unknown, inexplicable phenomenon when he was a kid and his father was wrongfully accused of her murder and put in prison. Since then, Barry lives with his neighbor, Detective Joe West and his daughter Iris West, whom he grows up with. Now an adult, Barry works with Joe at the police department and has been harboring a secret crush on Iris since childhood.
When the particle accelerator created by scientist Dr. Harrison Wells explodes, it affects some of the people in Central City, giving them special abilities. Barry also gets struck by a lightning caused by the explosion, which gives him his super speed. Dr. Wells saves his life, and also helps him control and master his new power, along with his two employees, Dr. Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon at S.T.A.R. Labs. Barry then starts working with them, using his powers to stop people with enhanced abilities (called metahumans) and generally help people out, while keeping his identity a secret.
But here’s the important part. Few episodes later, Barry comes across someone who moves even faster than him and was actually the person who killed his mother that night 15 years ago. The rest of the season then mostly involves around catching this character, called Reverse Flash.
Now that might sound like a spoiler but the reason I mentioned that is because knowing that is what will keep you going through the initial part of the show as you have something to look forward to. The Flash is absolutely one of those shows that keeps getting better as you watch but before you get to the interesting bits you have to tread through a lot of mediocre stuff. The initial episodes, especially the first five, are fraught with cheesy dialogues and contrived situations that would put Indian soap operas to shame. None of the characters appeal to you and on more than one occasion I just wanted to stop and move on to something else.
But if you persevere through that, things do improve tremendously. The cheesiness eventually fades and makes way for moments that are genuinely amusing or emotional. But it’s mostly the action and events that ramp up with each episode, ending at a perfect crescendo at the season finale. The characters improve as well, and by the end of it you’d definitely have your favorites. Mine was definitely Cisco, with his childlike enthusiasm when faced with a challenge and ability to interject humor and pop-culture references at appropriate moments (Carlos Valdes did an excellent job portraying the character). You will also hate Iris a lot, for reasons you can’t fully explain. The main character, to be honest, never quite seems like the hero. Flash in the show is like the Harry Potter of superheroes, kindhearted and brave but utterly useless without his friends, often making questionable decisions.
The show is filled with references. Barry’s father, Henry Allen, is played by John Wesley Shipp, who was the Flash in the original 1990 TV show. Couple of recurring characters are also from the previous show, played by the same actors. The show also features the Arrow in some of the episodes, along with some of the other characters from that show (hellooooo Felicity Smoak). There are also subtler references, that you’d need to watch the show to find out, and should please fans of the comic books.
Still, it doesn’t get perfect. Despite the 23 episode long season one, the show feels terribly rushed, not helped by the choppy editing. One minute something is happening, the next minute something entirely different is happening and the characters just jump between two different scenarios making it very jarring. It felt like they had a lot to show and just couldn’t fit it all in without making it seem like a montage. The show also has an overly lighthearted theme, which is supposed to be in line with the original comics, but I found takes away some of the seriousness of the events. It also makes the characters seem very cartoonish at times, to the point where you think if they fell from the top of a building there would just be a hole in the street with a puff of smoke and then they would get up again. This is no Daredevil and does not feel nearly as realistic and believable (yes I know it has a guy who moves faster than the speed of sound but still it needn’t feel like a Looney Tunes cartoon).
Having finished all 23 episodes though, especially after marathoning the last 15 or so, I would say it’s worth a watch. You will need to endure through the first few episodes, and even later it doesn’t get perfect. But there are still a lot of good things about it and whether you are a comic book fan or not it’s absolutely worth checking out.