No spoilers in this review (well, not important ones, anyway)
Okay, so before I get into the actual review, let me just state that my allegiance lies primarily with Marvel. That’s not to say I am automatically opposed to any of DC’s productions, but merely that I tend to favor Marvel’s movies and shows a tad more than I do DC’s. I understand that this throws my credibility into doubt but, to be frank, any of the poor souls nice enough to read my reviews already know thanks to the many (, many) spoilers most of my reviews contain and the useless quality of writing, my credibility isn’t at an all-time high anyway. But the review about The Flash won’t contain as many, if any, spoilers because I haven’t caught up with the series yet so there are some secrets even I will be unable to unfurl. This review, then, will discuss the show in general and I will talk about whether, if at all, one should watch it, given what you would look for in the show. Jesus, you write one too many papers and that kind of rubric-based language just spills out.
“My name is Barry Allen and I’m the fastest man alive.”
(To continue with the rubric-based language) Firstly, just to get this out there, Barry Allen is unlike any superhero that we, or at least I, have come across. Barry is undoubtedly the lamest name for a hero’s real identity. For fuck’s sake, even Mr. Incredible was called Robert, which I can live with. Who the hell would imagine “Barry” saving the world? You have your Bruce(s) (the angry and depressed ones), Clark, Tony, Steve, Peter and Thor; you can say that ‘Oh, Steve and Clark saved the world today’, (although why would you, they’re form different universes) but Barry comes home to his cats after a long day’s work, not to a leather suit that I think Marie Hill would absolutely rock. Speaking of work, secondly, superheroes are usually your standard journalists or business-tycoons or scientists but here you have a CSI specialist working for the cops. So, instead of having webbed-up cameras in weird places taking strangely narcissistic shots of himself, “Barry” does centrifugation by moving his hand really fast. Because quick hand and wrist action is best used for centrifugation (smh). Now, I’m not saying that any of these quirks, with regards to conventional superheroes, are a discredit to the series but merely that they set it apart from what one may have typically expected from a science-fiction show. Such shows are usually limited to accepted conventions, even within the vaunted realities of themselves, and take details or certain concepts from real similarities. The fact that “The Flash” eschews these commonalities is one that tends to work in its favor because it isn’t then exhaled in the same breath as other superheroes and preserves some of its uniqueness.
Let’s talk about some issues in the storyline and the world of “The Flash”, itself, before quality of acting and semi-serious stuff. This show has a real problem with names. An entire city worth of people noticing the guy early on, and the best name they could come up with was “The Streak”?! And, for god’s sake, there’s a guy called Leonard Snart (his second name is pronounced really similarly to something quite disgusting) and his nickname is Captain Cold. Before you let that sink in, he’s played by that Prison Break guy with a constant look of constipation and the most baritone voice you will ever hear beyond Al Pacino in The Scent of a Woman. Irritating alliterations are all over the place (i.e. Ronnie Raymond), and there’s someone (I won’t say who) called The Man in the Yellow Suit, who sounds and appears just as mysterious as The Man in the High Castle and is, arguably, as terrifying, but in a weird-colored suit and red eyes. There’s an adult/over-grown kid called Cisco, which is obviously a genuine name for a young mechanical physics-prodigy. My point is that despite the show trying to set itself apart from so many other superhero shows, there are various things that very much ground it in the very naivety that it was trying to escape.
“I’ve spent my whole life searching for the impossible. Never imagining that I would become the impossible.”
Slipstreaming on the issue of naivety, there are three things that make the show feel like a weird crossover between the Power Rangers’ shows of old and Marvel/DC’s more complex franchises: the cinematography, the quality of acting and the sets. Problems with cinematography imply that the camera work in so many action scenes feels like a six-year old, what with the shaking frames and an inability to capture conversations and action in single frames or even moving shots. The continuous movement of shots and switching of cameras creates breaks in the narrative and interrupts the flow of the plot. The sets, especially the headquarters at Star Labs, aside from sounding like an Indian news channel, is filled with colors and props that seriously prompt a nostalgic remembrance of five kids and their “sensei” saying ‘It’s morphin’ time!’ and sitting in their over-sized utility vehicles. Lastly, the acting because OH MY GOD the acting. It feels very broken and unreal, even in a world where “The Flash” exists. Emotions and reactions to emotionally provocative statements are lukewarm at best, at least in the beginning, and beyond Joe West and Harrison Wells, other characters are like Andy from Toy Story responding to his toys being taken away. Barry’s real emotions come to the fore only when he thinks about how much he loves his semi-sister (yes, that’s a thing now) in a non-platonic way or when he’s frustrated about his mother’s murder. There are other so-called flat characters who lack that ability to express emotions and they make it look like they are constantly hesitating in the pursuit of that expression, and the best they do occasionally is have that look most kids do when they’re forced to eat broccoli.
Okay, yes, I’ve spent a lot of time ripping on some of the details in the show and there’s no doubt that it has some serious flaws, but I would still recommend that you give the show at least a viewing. There is mediocre comedy and humor that will be appreciated by every viewer because it provides some very needed catharsis from the superhero aspect of the show. There is the romantic drama that grounds The Flash in reality and humanizes so many of the characters, what with Felicity and Barry being perfect for each other yet liking someone else which is very romcom-esque, and rather realistic too. Oh, and there’s also this one “metahuman” (yeah, DC’s supercool name for people with superpowers) who can make something a bomb by just touching it. Talk about the Midas-touch. But really, don’t you think One Tree Hill would have been so much more exciting when Nathan would shoot the ball and the half the stadium would just explode? Like I said, The Flash has its issues but it is an interesting break from other kind of shows. When I said that it is a strange mix between many kinds of shows, both superhero and otherwise, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because it does set the show apart from run of the mill TV series that can get boring. The Flash can get a little formulaic, true, and the acting could be a tad draggy and the plot a little slow but that does not mean it is not entertaining. It’s the kind of show that you can watch in any mood and use your phone while doing it because it doesn’t really require complete attention. But, most of all, it’s the perfect show to watch if you want to see a superhero hold back a girl’s hair when she’s puking, after a long night out.