The CW re-introduces DC Comics character “The Flash” to television audiences on Tuesday. This new version of the superhero is young, quirky, handsome, full of angst with a bit of a dark history — basically a perfect leading man for the youth-skewing network’s audience.
Although the hero was introduced on sister DC show “Arrow” over two episodes last season, the pilot for “The Flash” is much lighter than “Arrow.” Sure, that makes it prone to some sappy dialogue at times but it also allows the show to throw all it has — from booming soundtrack to special effects and big explosions — to the show’s action scenes. And that’s just plain fun.
“Glee’s” Grant Gustin, who plays crime scene investigator Barry Allen, is so likable. He’s a guy whose childhood was stolen from him when his mother dies in a mysterious way and his father goes down for her murder. When a freak storm causes an accident at S.T.A.R. Labs, an energy burst imbues Barry with awesome powers of speed and healing. Upon realizing what he can do, Barry — with a huge smile on his face — doesn’t waste a moment testing out his new power.
Enter Dr. Harrison Wells (“Ed’s” charismatic Tom Cavanaugh), whose failed invention was the cause of Barry’s powers, and his team of suspiciously young scientists Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes). They’ll help Barry hone his powers and assist him with their seemingly endless array of tech devices in fighting crime. Again, things are just fun at S.T.A.R. Labs.
Barry also has a small makeshift family in Detective Joe West (“Law & Order’s” Jesse L. Martin) who has acted as a father figure to Barry since his mother was killed and his father was jailed. That leads to his “sister-figure” and, duh, romantic interest Iris West (Candice Patton). Their relationship is chockfull of awkward moments for the audience. More fun.
So, in exchange for all the fun, audience members will have to use a certain level of suspension of disbelief. For example, when Cisco introduces Barry to his sleek new red Flash suit and explains how it can resist the heat generated when he’s running, we have to ignore the fact that his normal clothes are just fine after running fast speeds. But, OK, whatever gets him in the cool suit.
We’re also introduced to the show’s first villain. He’s only really a challenge for Barry, because the new hero is still getting used to his abilities and how far he can push them. What this first villain does do is introduce the idea that the same accident that created The Flash also created others with special abilities — and they’re apparently not as good natured as Barry is.
This is where hardcore audiences of the comic book start to go nuts over the various villains that will be brought to life. Their own brand of fun. That can make non-comic book fans feels a little left out. But, I have faith in pilot writer and executive producer Greg Berlanti (who has been behind some of my favorite shows, including “Dirty Sexy Money” and “Brothers & Sisters”) that those of us who are entering this world for the first time will get a good introduction to these new villains.
In all, “The Flash” pilot is an entertaining hour. It doesn’t ask for too much of its audience except to sit back and let the new adventure unfold. And, did I mention it was fun?
“The Flash” premieres on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.