CW’s “The Flash” More than Spandex and Superspeed

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Mike Carlson, Spear Contributor

Before you roll your eyes and make some comment about the over-saturation of superheroes within the media, hear me out on this one. You may even get a new favorite show out of it.

Superheroes are playing a bigger and bigger role in today’s media landscape. We have superheroes making friendly wagers (see Chris Evans and Chris Pratt gambling their respective alter egos for charity), superheroes being imitated on sketch comedy shows (see Chris Hemsworth’s most recent appearance on Saturday Night Live), and, finally, we have superheroes actually living the life of their alter egos (see Robert Downey Jr. at any public appearance). So, I don’t blame for turning into the Hulk when yet another big-budget, super-film is announced.

Enter the Scarlet Speedster. This past fall, the CW launched “The Flash.” A show about one of the more underappreciated superheroes. The best part? The show may turn that greenish tint of yours back to normal.

The show, which returned to the small screen this week from a month-long break, centers around Barry Allen. When famous scientist Dr. Harrison Wells’ new particle accelerator melts down just minutes after being activated, Barry is struck by lightning in the ensuing chaos. He wakes up nine months later to find that the lightning and following chemical bath have given him superspeed.

Of course, there are plenty of bad guys who have benefitted from the accelerator meltdown and gained powers of their own. In fact, many episodes center around finding these “metahumans” as they are called by the characters.

This complex, yet very simple plot line is the reason “The Flash” has had so much early success. New faces are being introduced constantly and old faces are being further developed every episode. There is something for the “Right Now Generation” and something for the older viewers who enjoy some character development. The balance of what’s new with season-long storylines is superhuman to say the least.

In addition, the plot keeps a healthy balance between staying true to the comics and new content. Dr. Harrison Wells (played by Tom Cavanaugh) is the best example of this. He is a brilliantly placed shot in the arm to the series, but has deep ties to one of the most pivotal characters in Flash (or should I say reverse) lore.

The casting of Grant Gustin (formerly of “Glee” fame) as the protector of Central City is spot on. He portrays the young hero perfectly. He realizes that there is more to being a hero than spandex and a cool name. The consistent high-points of the show are episodes which involve him taking those necessary steps to superhero maturity. His relationship with is unjustly incarcerated father, Wells, and his adopted father Joe West liken back to the days of Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” films.

Make no mistake though. The show is definitely much lighter than Nolan’s “Batman” films. The moments when Barry uses his powers for comedic ends do not feel forced. For example, in episode he must balance a date with fighting crime and finds himself taking “a call” very often. Or, in another instance, he sings karaoke at bar with one of his very intoxicated crime fighting cohorts. The moments are very humanizing for a hero who is compared to Greek god Mercury often.

My only quarrel I have with “The Flash” are the special effects. They are good by television standards, but don’t measure up to it’s crystal clear counterparts like “The Avengers” or “Man of Steel.” It’s not a deal breaker, but it is something holding the show back from greatness.

Overall, “The Flash” is a real (or about as “real” a man with superspeed can get), fresh take on an underrated superhero.

If you are looking for a show with a superhuman both equally “super” and “human” then you’ve found it with “The Flash.”