I need to geek out about The Flash. We started watching the show with episode one, and after so much bleak and dark DC comic adaptations, The Flash is an absolute delight. It’s fun. It dives unapologetically into the comics universe, and doesn’t shy away from the more “out there” aspects. For example, one recent instance gives us a cameo of Grodd. That’s right, they added a superintelligent CGI gorilla to the show. And damn if it didn’t work.
I should say up front that the show isn’t perfect. I could do without Flash’s speed being a bit variable depending on the needs of the script. (He’s fast enough to pluck a bullet out of the air, but can’t circle around and take a gun from Captain Cold?) And they haven’t done a great job with their female characters. Barry’s mother is fridged in the first episode, and the other two women are significantly defined by their romantic relationships, unlike the rest of the cast.
But there’s so much The Flash does right:
- Barry and Joe: When Barry’s father was arrested for the murder of Barry’s mother, it was Detective Joe West who took Barry in. Now that Barry’s grown up, he and Joe have this amazing relationship of love and respect and communication and trust. Joe still looks out for Barry, but he also treats him like an adult. Joe finds out Barry’s secret in the first episode…and they geek out together over some of the things he can do. When Barry demonstrates how he can vibrate to disguise his face and voice, Joe just bursts out laughing. I love these two!
- Cisco: Cicso Ramon and Dr. Caitlin Snow are employees at S.T.A.R. Labs, working for Dr. Harrison Wells. Cicso is the geek who shows up wearing T-shirts and builds freeze rays and so on, but part of his goofy charm is his need to nickname the various villains who show up from week to week. Comic book names can sound pretty ridiculous, but by turning it into just a thing Cisco does, it works. It also creates opportunities for banter with the other characters. Cisco is more than a two-dimensional geek, and gets to be a deeper character in some episodes, but he’s also just a lot of fun.
- Dr. Wells: I love the ongoing mystery here. Tom Cavanaugh manages to give us a character who seems to be a villain, but how villainous is he, really? He’s got secrets and lies aplenty, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish his goals. And yet he has moments when you want to cheer him on, like the scene with Grodd at the end of episode 14.
- Diversity: Central City’s police chief David Singh is an openly gay man. So is the villain the Pied Piper. Joe and Iris West are black. Cisco is Puerto Rican. The writers don’t make a big deal out of and of this; that’s just who the characters are. Could the show do better? Sure…I’d love to see some episodes pass the Bechdel Test. But as these things go, I think they’re doing pretty well.
- Other: The special effects work, which is impressive, given the small-screen budget. The music is great. They brought in John Wesley Shipp, star of the 90s Flash TV show, to play Barry’s father. He has wonderful crossovers with Oliver Queen from Arrow, in which Oliver shoots Barry in the back. As one does.
Short version: This show makes me happy. It’s right up there with The Librarians in terms of fun and entertainment.
What do the rest of you think?