From the promotional materials that preceded it, as well as on-set photos of the show’s lead Grant Gustin leaping about in a red leather suit, The Flash looked like a big mistake. Nine episodes later, this lightning bolt of a show in the CW’s DC quiver, has become one of the biggest treats of U.S. network television.
The tone is a far cry from Arrow’s dedication to dark (green) – when Barry Allen runs he literally sparks, and every time that the Flash saves someone, the elation felt approaches the stratosphere. This show is a gloriously cheesy blast, and honest about its intentions: aiming to reclaim the fun of superheroes from the Marvel Studios films and bring it to one of the more popular characters in the DC pantheon.
Yet it is not without darkness or intrigue: the break in series one left us on a hell of a note, as Tom Cavanagh’s Harrison Wells was revealed to be the ‘man in yellow’ who murdered our hero’s mother. Or is he? Wells has always been mysterious, and whilst he is written sinisterly, Cavanagh’s performance makes him endlessly compelling. Seeing how he develops is one of the most exciting things about the show’s return. But that was not enough for them to tease us with: the episodes to come promise more Arrow crossovers, fan favourite villains (the Pied Piper, an openly gay villain who will have ties to Wells), and an out of this galaxy guest star in Mark Hamill.
It is easy to feel sceptical towards a show that is so cheesy, but The Flash makes is seem easy thanks to its simple storytelling, and the wonderful cast. Gustin’s Allen is full of warmth, humour, and genuine charisma, making lines like “we were all struck by that lightning”, clanging on paper, sing on the screen. He loves his powers, but most importantly loves helping people. There has not been a superhero on-screen quite like that since Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man Two. His relationships with Wells and Joe West (the excellent Jesse L. Martin), Allen’s surrogate father, anchor much of the drama, and the rest of Team Speedy (Carlos Valdez and Danielle Panabaker playing Cisco Ramon and Dr. Caitlin Snow respectively) feel like a family. The only underserved player is Iris West (Candice Patton), suffering by not knowing her best friend is a) in love with her, and b) a superhero, leaving her out of the loop and with nothing interesting to do. Now that the former has been resolved, her character should only improve.
The cast and crew have been mercilessly teasing what’s to come, hinting at reveals and twists that no-one has predicted. There is no way to tell if they are right until then, but there has been more than enough good, and lots more to come, that it will be worth watching right up until the end.
The Flash Series One returns to Sky One on 10th February 2015 at 8pm. Watch the preview below: