The Flash Season 1 Review
I have a confession to make: I’ve never watched Arrow. People always tell me that I’m missing out, but they also tell me that the first season is a little difficult to get through. I can’t really speak on that, but I have seen a handful of shows that suffer from slow start ups. The Flash is not one of them. The pilot alone is enough to hook anyone and the series refuses to let up from there, with each episode even better than the last. If you had told me that one of the best superhero shows on television would be on The CW and star some kid from Glee, I would have thought you were insane. Hell, some people may still have their doubts. That’s why I’m going to keep this review relatively spoiler-free, so those of you who haven’t started watching will be convinced to binge-watch once this season inevitably shows up on Netflix.
One of the things that makes The Flash so great is its outstanding cast. You’d be hard pressed to find a better ensemble on TV right now. Perhaps the most impressive cast member is Grant Gustin, who plays the titular hero. People are rightfully pissed that DC’s movie and TV universes won’t be connected because Gustin truly embodies Barry Allen in every way. I could talk about how well he handles the rigorous action sequences or how impressive his range is when it comes time for an emotional scene, but what really makes him perfect for the role is the fact that he’s just a super likable guy. He’s been great from the beginning, but it’s been fun to see him really grow into the role this past year. The Barry Allen in the pilot is very different from the one you see in the finale and Gustin does a tremendous job of showing Barry’s progression.
The supporting cast is just as strong, especially Tom Cavanagh and Jesse L. Martin. Cavanagh is both charming and unsettling as Dr. Harrison Wells. You can never tell if he should be trusted, but his mild-mannered delivery makes him hard to hate. There’s not much to say about Wells without mentioning a laundry list of spoilers, but just know that Tom Cavanagh is fantastic. Jesse L. Martin plays Detective Joe West, who acts as Barry’s main father figure. A lot of the show is based around father/son dynamics and what it means to be a family, which gives Martin a real chance to shine during some of the more heartfelt scenes. He’s also a pro when it comes to playing the tough-as-nails cop role.
I would be doing this show a major disservice if I didn’t give props to the writers. There are so many components that could have gone wrong, but somehow they were able to pull them off flawlessly. One tricky subject that was explored heavily this season was time travel. A concept like this could easily make or break a show, but this team has created a formula that works. The finale may have left us with a few timeline questions, but I’m confident that they’ll all be tackled next season. Actually, time travel seems like a piece of cake compared to some of the other things these writers have dealt with. Two words: Gorilla Grodd. Grodd may work well in the comics, but throwing a telepathic gorilla into the mix could be catastrophic for a TV show. They made it work without missing a beat. All of the superhero stuff is great, but what might be even more impressive is the way that they’ve been able to handle all of the human emotion. Even with all of the time travel and metahumans, this show has always had a lot of heart. We’ve seen characters deal with all sorts of loss, love, and betrayal, yet it never seems like an afterthought. The action bits are great, but it’s clear that the writers are really trying to tell a character-driven story.
I know what you’re thinking. No show could be this perfect. There must be something wrong with it. If I really had to make one complaint it would be that some of the villains can be a little hokey. For every badass Trickster and Weather Wizard, there’s some girl shooting robotic bumblebees at people and making cringe-worthy puns. Luckily, there are only a handful of episodes that feature disappointing villains and they’re never really bad enough to completely ruin an episode. It’s a pretty good sign when your only complaint is something that doesn’t even begin to affect your enjoyment of a show. It may sound too good to be true, but there really hasn’t been anything particularly bad about The Flash‘s first season. Even the special effects are great! CGI is always a concern when you’re working with a TV budget, but this show consistently has excellent production value.
Well, there you have it. That’s about as thorough as I can get without blurting out spoilers everywhere, but I think I’ve gotten my basic point across. You need to be watching this show. Don’t worry if you’ve never watched Arrow or never picked up a comic book. The Flash has something for everyone. It’s not just a brilliant superhero show. It’s a brilliant show, period. It’s nearly impossible to guess what direction they’ll be taking for the second season, but let’s just hope it gets here in a flash. (I couldn’t resist)