TV Review: ‘The Flash’ S1 EP1 “Pilot” – SERIES PREMIERE

Make way for The Fastest Man Alive…

Starring:  Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, Candice Patton as Iris West, Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow, Rick Cosnett as Eddie Thawn, Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon, Tom Cavanagh as Dr. Harrison Wells, Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West

Series created by:  Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg & Geoff Johns

Episode directed by:  David Nutter / Written by:  Andrew Kreisberg & Geoff Johns / aired in the UK:  28/10/2014

What’s this episode about?

Comatose for nine months following an explosion at STAR Labs, CSI investigator Barry Allen awakens to find he has been gifted with incredible powers and is now the fastest man alive…

Episode review

Developed by the Producers of Arrow together with former Flash writer (and DC Comics God) Geoff Johns, The Flash is the latest small screen venture from DC/Warners and sees star Grant Gustin (Glee) hit the ground running – pun very definitely intended – after his two episode stint on that afore-mentioned sister show introduced viewers to Barry Allen, a Crime Scene Investigator from Central City – destined to become the iconic ‘Fastest Man Alive’ aka the DC Comics hero ‘The Flash’.

The series premiere of The Flash picks up where Gustin’s Arrow appearances left off, with Allen discovering his new abilities in the wake of the STAR Labs particle accelerator explosion – it’s not essential to have seen those episodes of Arrow as all the essentials are dealt with via flashbacks/narration, but it does enrich the viewing experience…especially when it comes to a particular surprise cameo.

We’re given a peak into Allen’s tragic past and the mysteries surrounding the murder of his mother for which his father (played by John Wesley Shipp – star of the short-lived 1990s Flash TV series) has been wrongfully accused, an intriguing set-up which lays the foundations for what is likely to be the premiere season’s main story arc and which readers of Flash comic books will be all too familiar with(!)

We’re also introduced to the other cast of characters of The Flash – including Allen’s best friend/quasi-love interest Iris West (facilitating some of the show’s weaker soapy elements), Central City cop Eddie Thawn and STAR Labs wiz-kids Ramon and Snow (who are no Fitz and Simmons, but it’s early days).  Most prominent though are Jesse L. Martin as Iris’s Detective father, who also serves as father figure to Allen and Tom Cavanagh as the enigmatic (and shady?) Dr. Harrison Wells.

Whilst a little time is taken to introduce the show’s supporting characters, it’s Gustin that rightfully stands out front and centre – infusing his performance with a believable and likeable underdog quality and is sure to be key to the show’s success.

Having Geoff Johns involved is a definite bonus, having written lengthy runs of Flash comics he has a well-developed understanding of the character and his place in the wider DC Comics universe (look out for the many fan-pleasing Easter eggs sprinkled throughout).

Character and story aside, The Flash features some very impressive digital effects work with an exciting finale (handled more than adeptly by veteran director David Nutter) that’s almost worthy of a feature film as the central hero faces his first villain.  Speaking of villains, the notion that Allen was not the only person to be ‘affected’ by the particle accelerator incident means there will be many more for the titular hero to face – it’s a nifty plot device which hopefully the show’s writers won’t rely on too heavily, lest it become tedious further down the line.

The overall tone of the show is surprising – it’s clearly not as dark and gritty as Arrow yet not even as close to light and goofy as many would expect.  Of course, the fantastical element of dealing with superpowers (which Arrow is largely committed to ignoring) together with a more morally clear central hero will set The Flash apart and should provide an interesting counterpoint.

The bottom line:  The Flash is off to a strong start, it certainly has legs so here’s hoping it keeps running!

The Flash airs in the UK on Tuesdays at 8pm on Sky 1.  US viewers can catch it Tuesday nights on The CW.

Grant Gustin proves the perfect lead as Barry Allen in the exciting series premiere of The CW's 'The Flash'.

Grant Gustin proves the perfect lead as Barry Allen in the exciting series premiere of The CW’s ‘The Flash’.

 What did you think of the series premiere of ‘The Flash’?  Share your thoughts below!