Review: ‘The Flash’ – ‘Fastest Man Alive’

Senior Television Writer
10.14.14 46 Comments


Some thoughts on tonight's “The Flash” coming up just as soon as I do a whole other set of equations for cheese and guac…

Like Barry Allen, I feel the need for speed with this review, so let's run straight to the bullet points:

* Loved Barry's opening narration, in which he admits he should be reminding us of his origin story before laughing and saying, “Let's get to the good stuff.” One of the more frustrating things about superhero movies is how often they feel compelled to tell the origin story again (wouldn't “Amazing Spider-Man” have been much better if it was just a new Peter Parker adventure?), when that's often the least exciting part of this genre. Superhero TV shows obviously can't tell the origin story over and over again, but I still appreciated the acknowledgment that it's time to get into watching Barry be a hero, and we got that immediately with him rescuing the residents of the burning building, and cheerfully talking to Cisco and Caitlin over the comm link.

* On a whole, though, “Fastest Man Alive” very much followed the TV formula of “repeat the pilot 5 or 6 times until the audience understands what the show is.” Not all of the story beats were identical, but enough of them were – including Barry needing an inspirational speech from a mentor in order to beat the bad guy, the Freak of the Week dying, and Harrison Wells again demonstrating the ability to walk and knowledge of the future in the final scene – that I'm hoping the creative team will shake things up soon.

* They need to either start writing better dialogue for the kid who plays young Barry, or they need to ditch the flashbacks, immediately. Kids that age aren't super-articulate, but they also don't speak in non-stop clichés, either. Jesse Martin is so good as Joe that he very nearly carries those scenes above the clunkiness, but so far they feel like a thing the show is doing because it's what they did on “Arrow.” In so many other ways, the shows are not the same, and this doesn't need to be an ongoing element just for its own sake.

* Not only did the show kill off Multiplex, it got rid of both Simon Stagg and his bodyguard Java. Since both those characters are attached to Metamorpho, a character I can't imagine even 2014 technology making seem not ridiculous in live-action, I suppose it's not a big loss; the DC Universe has plenty of other sinister industrialist types to use if need be. Then again, I'd have enjoyed seeing Barry tussle with the classic comic book version of Java, who is literally a Neanderthal man in a business suit.

* So, working theories on Harrison Wells? He's trying to protect Barry for now, but is it solely out of altruism, or does he have a specific plan for how to exploit Barry once he's mastered his powers?

* The special effects work was, in many ways, improved over the perfectly fine stuff we got in the pilot. That said, I don't know that a bullet-time effect was a great idea, simply because it's now a 15-year-old movie gag that has been exhausted post-“Matrix.” I like that the show toggles back and forth between showing Barry moving at top speed and showing the world around him coming to a standstill, but that specific image may have outlived its usefulness.

What did everybody else think?

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