Sunday, October 12, 2014

More on 'The Flash' premiere

"My name is Barry Allen and I'm the fastest man alive. A friend recently gave me the idea for a new name and something tells me it's gonna catch on." 

 I'm not sure what's more refreshing — witnessing a superhero getting the Hollywood treatment who isn't one of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, a mutant or calls Gotham City or Metropolis home or the element of fun in "The Flash" TV series on The CW.

No, wait; I know: It's the Easter eggs.

Actually, it's all three.

Like its in-the-same-universe CW partner TV show "Arrow," "The Flash" starts with Barry Allen identifying himself. By calling himself "the fastest man alive," the writers deliver the first of many Easter eggs in the premiere episode — and in doing so, uses the nickname that has adorned the top of the Scarlet Speedster's comic-book logo for decades.

The Reverse-Flash in the TV series and the comic books
I'm not going to give you a blow-by-blow of each and every one of the episode's fan goodies — but I do have to mention the next one. (For a complete list of 23 Easter eggs — you read that correctly: 25!, follow this link.) Straight into the murder of Allen's mother, only minutes into the show, we get a glimpse of Reverse-Flash aka Professor Zoom.

How cool is that that the writers are staying so close to The Flash's origins?!?

My girlfriend got pretty geeked about seeing an Easter egg bit of casting — the actor who plays Allen's father, John Wesley Shipp. You don't recognize him. Take away the wrinkles in his face and add a mess of muscles and viola: Shipp played the Fastest Man Alive in the 1990-1991 TV series "The Flash."

Grant Gustin is charming as Allen. The actor is incredibly likable and as my girlfriend Liz Truxell said, "he's just adorable." Unlike the broad-shouldered Shipp, Gustin has a lean body, so it's quite easy to buy Allen being so speedy when he runs.

Another casting choice I really dig is "Law & Order" actor Jesse L. Martin as … you guessed it — a detective. Joe West is a naturally skeptical cop. I was pleasantly surprised how quickly his character mended fences with Allen, having not believed the youngster who said he saw the yellow blur known as the Reverse-Flash when his mom was killed.

Even more surprising was how quickly West knows Allen is The Flash. I expected that to happen — but much later in the series.

There are definite storytelling possibilities for this Allen-West partnership to start so early. First, just like in "Arrow," it's important for The Flash to have honest, emotional, personal and on-the-street support aside from STAR Labs. Because let's face it; I can't trust those lab geeks. After all, STAR Labs’ Dr. Harrison Wells created the unstable particle accelerator, which in turn gave Allen, a police forensic scientist, super speed during a lightning storm. (Tom Cavanaugh [“Scrubs,” “Ed,”] surprisingly brings gravitas to the geeky, but largely untrustworthy Wells, but I trust him about as far as I can throw him!)

Secondly, imagine the tension building and the storyline possiblities build as both West and Allen attempt to hide The Flash's secret identity from West's daughter, Iris, Allen's unrequited love/lifelong best friend who also happens to be dating West's young, arrogant new partner.

Possibly the greatest sequence in the first "Flash" episode – aside from Allen testing the limits of his speed — is the rooftop conversation with Arrow (Stephen Amell). The scene resonates with both series and speaks to how much Allen trusts Oliver Queen/Arrow that he comes to him when he's having a moment of crisis.

Arrow shows clarity on who he is (and isn't) by telling Allen he can be a beacon of hope to Keystone City — and in the process, gives the crime-scene investigator inspiration for his superhero name.

Fans of “Arrow” (which started its third season at 8 p.m. Wednesday) already know “The Flash” is set in the same universe. Expect more crossovers. (Last season, we met Allen, who went into a coma after being hit by lightning in his lab, so the “Flash” premiere didn’t have to spend as much time on that.)

The usually grim Arrow broke out an unusual grin as he saw his good buddy, Allen, speed away from Starling City. In the archer’s words, the eye-catching special effects that show off The Flash living up to being the fastest man alive is nothing short of “cool.” Grade: A

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