Based on the DC Comics classic superhero, The Flash is now a fan-favorite action TV show on The CW Network. Barry Allen is a crime scene investigator who uses his superhuman speed to find ne’er do wells. Originally introduced as a side character in The Arrow, producers decided to develop the premise further and expand the character’s story into a regular show.
The CW Launches the TV Superhero Boom
Back when the network was known as The WB, Smallville was a huge draw for superhero fans. The early-days story of a young Superman caught on with the public and proved that fans want the backstory for their favorite heroes.
Then, once The Arrow showed that superhero super fandom wasn’t just a happy accident, The CW launched The Flash in 2014. Now in its fourth season, it looks like the fastest man alive isn’t really going anywhere soon.
With Netflix snatching up all the great material coming out of Marvel, The CW has channeled the superhero zeitgeist by making the most of a number of DC Comics heroes like the Flash and others. Other great CW comic-based shows include Supergirl, DC Legends of Tomorrow, and Black Lightning.
But the network is careful not to overdo it. Mark Pedowitz, president of The CW, told Bloomberg:
“The audience will tell you when the fatigue has set in. If you have a quality show or a fun show, the audience will stay with it.”
And that’s what really makes The Flash such a hit with fans; it’s just fun.
Summary of Season Arcs
Barry Allen is an orphan, taken in by a Central City detective after witnessing his mother’s murder. What’s worse? The false accusation of his father for the murder. In the first season pilot, a particle accelerator explosion and the lightning strike gifts him with superhuman speed. And It turns out he’s not the only “meta-human” affected by the accident. In the show, the Flash must stop another altered human who uses his new gifts to power a crime spree robbing banks.
Other strange happenings in Central City has the Flash working with Harrison Wells, the inventor of the particle accelerator, and his S.T.A.R. Labs team. After catching the bad guy, Allen vows to use this new gift for good, protecting the innocent from those abusing their newfound powers. He also vows to clear his father’s name and launches a search to find his mother’s real killer.
The second season shows the Flash acknowledged as an important city hero. However, a threat from a parallel universe keeps him hopping. The bad guy Zoom is a superfast demon who travels through the multiverses to destroy all other super-fast beings. And feeling guilt over the death of a friend in the previous season, Allen decides to go it alone.
Integrating counterparts from parallel universes and time travel, Allen tries to prevent his mother’s death. Unfortunately, it results in chaos. Allen has changed the timeline and must set history back on the right course.
For a full guide to all The Flash episodes, visit The Arrow Fandom Wiki.
Reception for The Flash Episodes
Fan support for The Flash results in some very high ratings. Rotten Tomatoes shows approval ratings in the high 90s and 100 percent for Seasons 1 and 2.
Part of its success is due to the show’s light-hearted comedic tone. Rolling Stone named it one of the “40 Best Science Fiction Shows of all Time” That’s pretty impressive accolades considering the other entries on the list like two iterations of Star Trek (TOS and TNG), Doctor Who, and Firefly,
The Flash Cast
The Flash stars Grant Gustin as Barry Allen. Known for a 2013 stint on 90210 and as Sabastian Smythe on Glee, Gustin had skeptics wondering if he had superhero chops when cast as The Flash on the two-episode cameo on The Arrow.
Jesse Schedeen of IGN stated that Gustin wasn’t leading man material, describing him as too youthful and lacking charisma. However, fans were charmed, and it may be thanks to Gustin’s relatability as the socially awkward and kind of geeky Allen. With four seasons in the can and a renewal for a fifth announced, it seems Gustin’s charisma was sufficient to carry the show.
Candice Patton plays Iris West, and her television career stretches back to 2004 when she played Robin on soap opera The Young and the Restless. Patton and her character also appeared in other CW superhero shows like Supergirl and The Arrow.
Danielle Panabaker plays S.T.A.R. Labs bio-engineer and meta-human, Caitlin Snow, along with her alternate universe doppelganger, Killer Frost.
Carlos Valdes plays Cisco Ramon, a S.T.A.R. Labs mechanical engineer and another meta-human created by the particle accelerator disaster. His superpower allows him to change the vibrational energy of reality, which is why Allen nicknamed him “Vibe.”
Cool Production Trivia
Fans of The Big Bang Theory are familiar with character Dr. Sheldon Coopers’ idolatry of The Flash. Cooper often fantasizes having The Flash’s superspeed when trying to escape an uncomfortable situation. He also wears his Flash costume for every Halloween. Enter The Flash character, Cisco Ramon, who sports Big Bang T-Shirts with “This is My Spot” and graphics showing the Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock game.
During The Flash’s appearance on The Arrow, in 2012, Barry Allen carries a brochure for the particle accelerator that inevitably leads to his new superpowers.
Actor John Wesley Shipp, who plays Allen’s father in the show, also played Barry Allen in the 1990 TV version of The Flash. Even weirder, both Shipp and current star Gustin were born in Norfolk, Virginia, with Gustin being born the same year the Shipp version debuted.
Differences Between the TV Show and the Comic
Some fans of the classic comic book series may deserve a warning since naturally, the story and characters were adapted to the current audience and a different medium.
Some fans may be disappointed with the changes. For example, there’s no real romance between Barry Allen and journalist Iris West, as there is in the comic book series. Instead, Allen’s crush is police detective Patty Spivot.
The particle accelerator is also the new source of Allen’s superpowers and didn’t exist in the comics. In the comic book version, Allen was working with lab chemicals when that fateful bolt of lightning struck and gave him his superpowers.
One positive change is that the iconic Flash suit is way easier on the eyes than in the original comic books. Instead of a bright red spandex leotard-type garment, we see a dark, more somber- looking maroon superhero suit that looks more like a cool set of motorcycle leathers than a dance costume. Score one for the TV version.
Online Flash Fandom Resources
If you’d like to find out more about TV or comic book versions of The Flash and Arrowverse, there are plenty of resources online to check out.
TV Flash resources
Comic book Flash resources
Where to Watch The Flash Episodes
You can always catch recent episodes on The CW website, where the five most recent episodes are always free to watch on demand.
If you don’t have Netflix and want to catch up to the earlier seasons, you can also rent or buy Seasons 1 through 4 on Amazon.
If you’re ready to dive into this amazing science fiction superhero story, don’t wait. With five seasons in, you’ll want to stat on top of all the action before it gets away from you.
Featured Image: Poster by The CW, via IMDb