Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why "The Flash" Doesn't Suck

Live-action super hero shows on TV have a mostly bad history. From decades ago through today most of them have been mediocre to terrible. I'm working on another post about that history, but today I thought I'd spend a minute praising a show that (surprisingly) is pretty good: The new Flash TV show. Why doesn't it fail when so many others do?

  • Origin knocked out in about half of the first episode - Thankfully we're not trying to make the entire first season or a multi-part arc about how Barry Allen got his powers.
  • Supervillain with super powers present in Episode 1 - We're not dealing with the tired, tired trope of the main character being the only one in the world with powers, fighting only thugs and corrupt rich people. Nope, here we have another super-bad guy in the very first episode, and open discussion that there are more.
  • Superhero in costume in the first episode - Yep, he looks like the Flash before the first show is over. That matters when you're promoting it as a show about a known super hero. 
  • Writing is fine - They're treating it seriously without a bunch of winks and nods or making it more serious than it needs to be.The tone so far has been refreshingly straightforward, and the characters in general are not stupid.
  • It doesn't look like a low-budget, cheap effort to play on the name. The locations are varied, there are quite a few supporting characters, and the effects are good. I actually like the super-speed effect and to me that's always been a tricky one to make look "super" on a screen.
  • Overall, it's not embarrassed to be a superhero show! This is key as so many other shows of this type want to claim the "superhero" connection and trappings but are afraid of tackling it straight-up. It has to be a sci-fi story or a psychological drama or have some other spin on it. So far this show is not trying to do that, and after 14 years of continuous big-time superhero movies I think it's high time.
So yes, I am, somewhat surprisingly, a fan of the new show. I didn't like what I saw of Arrow but I may have to give it another chance as this show sort of spun off from that one. That one is more "closeted superhero" while this one is openly and triumphantly a full-on colorful superhero production. I'm looking forward to more.


Monkapotomus said...

Take this with a grain of salt as I haven't seen it yet (its on the list though), but a number of my friends and co-workers have said that Arrow is actually pretty good. They say it does take about half the first season to get going, and yes it does have the look of a CW teen drama, but it works and is good.

Apparently, they also don't shy away from the fact that he is shooting people with arrows.

I was pretty skeptical of this show when it first came out but I've heard enough good things from enough people to check it out. After I catch up on all of the Marvel movies.

Stu Rat said...

As Monkapotomous (Do zoos have those? Why not?) said, Arrow took a while to hit its stride, but the two shows are very different in tone. So not liking Arrow, while liking Flash is understandable. Or vise-versa.

They introduced Barry Allen into the Arrow world purely to set-up The Flash, although I assume there will be some crossovers, Arrow has tried to avoid superpowers. Characters do have superhuman skills and some have been given a drug/gene therapy to amp them up physically,but so far I don't think there have been any superpowers. Not sure if that rule changes.

Barking Alien said...

I am notorious hard on Superhero films and TV shows, and DC ones even more so, but I like 'The Flash'.

I agree with you on all counts Blacksteel. It gets right what so many get wrong.

Arrow is interesting, and well done, but simply not my cup of tea. Flash is more of what I'm looking for in a Superhero program.

Actually, one of the few really good Superhero TV shows of all time was the original Flash series. Awesome to see John Wesley Shipp in the new series as Barry's dad. So cool.

Martin R. Thomas said...

I've seen both episodes of the Flash so far, and agree with all of your points. My main gripe with it is that Barry Allen is just too young.
And the characters are all too good looking (there's not one overweight, socially awkward person working at S.T.A.R. Labs? Not ONE?)But, that's what you get for having the show on the CW.

As others have pointed out, Arrow is actually pretty good. I didn't watch it at all until it was announced that Flash was coming to TV and that he was introduced during Arrow. I decided to catch up over the summer by streaming it. It's way better than it has any right to be, considering it's on the CW. Some of the acting is pretty bad, all of the characters are "pretty" (including most of the guys), and there's a bit too much CW soap opera aspects for me. But, they get a lot right, too. Kudos to them for taking a non-mainstream comic book character and making it work on the same network that was home to America's Next Top Model. That's saying something.

JB said...

Having grown up in the 80s with live-action SH shows, I always try to give these a shot...I even watched that Cape show a couple years back. The hard part is finding the time to catch all these (good and bad), with two very small children.

I'll give Flash a try (on your recommendation) next chance I get.