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TV Review: The Flash pilot episode

Oct. 8, 2014by: Jason Adams

This review originally ran as part of our SDCC 2014 coverage

PLOT: Years after his mother's mysterious murder, Barry Allen is working as a forensic scientist for the Central City police and trying to live a normal life. But when a particle accelerator malfunctions (don't you hate it when that happens?), Barry is struck by a bolt of weird lightning and granted the ability to run really, really, really fast. 

REVIEW: When it comes to television, spinoffs are rarely as successful as their originators. THE FLASH may be capitalizing on the popularity of ARROW (Oliver Queen makes a cameo appearance, naturally), but it's also trying its hand at building a larger DC universe—something their film division still hasn't done yet. And if this pilot is any indication, it may have a decent shot at doing both. 

The first episode opens with a brief flashback segment featuring a young Barry Allen being bullied after standing up for another kid. "I guess I wasn't fast enough," he fortuitously tells his loving mother who loves him. Unfortunately, he wakes up later that night to find his mom surrounded by a ball of lightning right before she dies. Cut to 14 years later: Barry is working for the police as a brilliant forensic specialist with special Beautiful Mind powers that help him solve crime. Though he seems to have it all together, we soon discover that he's still haunted by his mother's death and his father's wrongful incarceration for the crime and still investigating the truth. 
 
Being a nerd, Barry goes to S.T.A.R. Labs to visit his hero, Dr. Harrison Wells (played by "Ed" and "Scrubs" star Tom Cavanagh), and his brand new particle accelerator. As tends to happen, the device malfunctions, creating an energy shockwave that flows through the city and strikes our hero with lightning. Barry wakes up in S.T.A.R. Labs and learns that he's been in a coma for nine months, having died multiple times, although Dr. Wells believes that his heart was beating too fast for the EKG to register. It turns out the shockwave killed and injured a number of people throughout the city, forcing the doctor to close the lab in disgrace and abandon his work. 

However, Wells' recognizes that there's something special in how Barry Allen survived. And soon Barry recognizes it too when things begin to move in slow motion and his body starts vibrating and zooming around the city. Tests confirm that he's in a constant state of cellular regeneration thanks to the lightning strike (leading to the classic line, "Lightning gave me abs?") Apparently, the particle accelerator opened up another dimension and unleashed anti-matter, dark matter and other theoretical energies, creating not only Barry's speed and quick healing powers—but potentially other equally powerful "metahumans."

One of these metahumans coincidentally emerges at exactly this time as a guy who can control weather and uses his Storm-like power to rob banks.  Not sure if he's up for being a superhero, Barry gets a little advice in the aforementioned cameo by Oliver Queen aka Arrow. Queen's brief appearance consists almost entirely of perfectly scripted quotes, like "I don’t think the bolt of lightning struck you; it chose you!" or "You can inspire people in a way I never could—watching over people, saving people in a flash!" It's goofy, but a fun bit from a connected universe and fans of the series clearly ate it up.

Realizing he might have a responsibility to his city, Barry turns to Dr. Well's two assistants for support: Caitlin Snow, played by SKY HIGH's Danielle Panabaker, and Cisco Ramon. (Comic fans might recognize their potential alter egos as Killer Frost and Vibe.) Their first iteration of The Flash costume is hilarious—a red leotard with matching helmet, kneepads and goggles. The lightning bolt symbol on his ears actually serves a purpose as a two-way headset that also helps fight against pesky sonic booms.  Thankfully a somewhat more professional crimefighting outfit is later made, and thus The Flash is born to kick some bad guy ass.

Overall, I thought the pilot episode was pretty solid. Directed by David Nutter (who did the Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones), it had a decent amount of action and the Flash effects were well executed. (The bad guy's weather creations… not so much.) There was a fun comic-y vibe to it, with a good bit of humor—both successful and not. (I did love the cop's reaction to the villain monologuing.) It is a show on the CW though, so you can expect some stilted acting and cliché romantic plots. (Barry's in love with his clueless best friend, who's dating the new hotshot cop). And the suit still looks goofy as hell, though admittedly it is a tough one to adapt.  

I think what this episode does best is lay down some good groundwork for the characters and their future adventures. Having other villains come from the same accident that created the Flash is a good idea, as it gives Wells and his team proper motivation for fixing the problems they themselves started. And there's still the overall mystery of Barry's mom's death and freeing his dad from jail—plenty of stuff to supplement the likely villain-of-the-week formula. In fact, the pilot already included a scene with Barry's father (played by former 90s Flash John Wesley Shipp), as well as a big teaser at the end that hints at some very interesting stuff to come. 

THE FLASH is not some groundbreaking new television program. There are plenty of other shows on other channels attempting to do that. It's trying to have some fun as a weekly superhero showcase and in that I think it succeeds. 

Join us next week for our regular weekly review of The Flash and chime in below on what you thought of the pilot!

Source: JoBlo.com

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11:24AM on 10/08/2014

I still hate the costume and the cheesy lines, but its not bad

While the costume is really bad and the dialogue is corny. I think this is better then Arrow, SHIELD and Gotham.

Don't get me wrong, this show is really nothing special, but it at least has something SHIELD and Gotham don't have, writers with brains.
While the costume is really bad and the dialogue is corny. I think this is better then Arrow, SHIELD and Gotham.

Don't get me wrong, this show is really nothing special, but it at least has something SHIELD and Gotham don't have, writers with brains.
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11:03PM on 10/08/2014
I was thinking the same thing. Unlike Arrow, they set up some good character roots and I think it has the ability to set solid arcs that can sustain for several seasons. I love the emotion with his dad.....you really believe he's not going to rest until he can free him.

Arrow set up some great roots, then immediately trampled on them (by the end of the first episode) by abandoning the main characters' motivations. It's still fun in spots, but I can't take it seriously as a show.
I was thinking the same thing. Unlike Arrow, they set up some good character roots and I think it has the ability to set solid arcs that can sustain for several seasons. I love the emotion with his dad.....you really believe he's not going to rest until he can free him.

Arrow set up some great roots, then immediately trampled on them (by the end of the first episode) by abandoning the main characters' motivations. It's still fun in spots, but I can't take it seriously as a show. Haven't seen Gotham, and Agents Of Shield still hasn't decided if it's going to be fun or serious. I think Flash can be better than any of them if they can just stay away from "Smallvilling" the characters.
+1
9:49AM on 10/08/2014
Fun show; lighter then Arrow. Light years better then Gotham. I'm looking forward to more.
Fun show; lighter then Arrow. Light years better then Gotham. I'm looking forward to more.
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8:47AM on 10/08/2014
Loved it! It was a lot of fun and the fx are pretty damn good for TV. Looking forward to Captain Cold and I enjoy the tease at the end for an awesome book.
Loved it! It was a lot of fun and the fx are pretty damn good for TV. Looking forward to Captain Cold and I enjoy the tease at the end for an awesome book.
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7:30AM on 10/08/2014

Decent effort

I found the episode (which i watched months ago) decent. I like the Arrow but not Gotham and the reason is probably because they don't try to be anything else than what they are. Cheesy-not-so-serious comic show. Will stick with it and no doubt there be cross overs too.
I found the episode (which i watched months ago) decent. I like the Arrow but not Gotham and the reason is probably because they don't try to be anything else than what they are. Cheesy-not-so-serious comic show. Will stick with it and no doubt there be cross overs too.
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2:32AM on 10/08/2014
It was pretty "meh" but at least it was more enjoyable than Gotham and Arrow.
It was pretty "meh" but at least it was more enjoyable than Gotham and Arrow.
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11:27AM on 10/08/2014
Totally agree!! Gotham is just horrible. I never got into Arrow, it always striked me as a stupid show made for teenage girls.

SHIELD is shit too, never liked it. Gave it a 7 episode shot and it just sucked balls.

The Flash at least has that humor, it isn't some guy who walks around shirtless half of the show and works out all the time.
Totally agree!! Gotham is just horrible. I never got into Arrow, it always striked me as a stupid show made for teenage girls.

SHIELD is shit too, never liked it. Gave it a 7 episode shot and it just sucked balls.

The Flash at least has that humor, it isn't some guy who walks around shirtless half of the show and works out all the time.
1:56AM on 10/08/2014
Fun pilot. Looking foward to the season.
Fun pilot. Looking foward to the season.
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1:41AM on 10/08/2014
SPOILERS



A Crisis on Infinite Earths reference in the first episode is how you do it.
SPOILERS



A Crisis on Infinite Earths reference in the first episode is how you do it.
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8:50AM on 10/08/2014
Maybe they'll do it the same way as the book. Combining the "multiverse" in to one......if you get my drift...lol
Maybe they'll do it the same way as the book. Combining the "multiverse" in to one......if you get my drift...lol
12:04AM on 10/08/2014
Found it enjoyable enough but can a show about a guy who just runs fast impress me enough that'll I'll stick around? I don't know. Was never a fan of anything from DC besides Batman and Superman's 40s cartoons/radio show and a couple movies, but Arrow changed that. So time will tell
Found it enjoyable enough but can a show about a guy who just runs fast impress me enough that'll I'll stick around? I don't know. Was never a fan of anything from DC besides Batman and Superman's 40s cartoons/radio show and a couple movies, but Arrow changed that. So time will tell
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11:44PM on 10/07/2014
I thought the pilot was fun and enjoyable. But I don't really ever see it reaching the quality of Arrow.

Just makes me want to see the live action big screen version more.
I thought the pilot was fun and enjoyable. But I don't really ever see it reaching the quality of Arrow.

Just makes me want to see the live action big screen version more.
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6:19PM on 07/24/2014

Can't wait

Hopefully it's as good as it sounds and does well, so the execs at WB/DC realize that it would be smart to integrate the TV and film universes.
Hopefully it's as good as it sounds and does well, so the execs at WB/DC realize that it would be smart to integrate the TV and film universes.
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8:52AM on 10/08/2014

Well there is that reference to a certain storyline at the end of the pilot......so maybe that will happen.

Well there is that reference to a certain storyline at the end of the pilot......so maybe that will happen.
10:45AM on 07/24/2014
Glad to read the positive review. Flash has always been one of my favorite comic book superheroes and if this show is half as great and as fun as Arrow, then we are in for an awesome time.

Can't wait to see what the live action big screen version of Flash will look like compared to the television one.
Glad to read the positive review. Flash has always been one of my favorite comic book superheroes and if this show is half as great and as fun as Arrow, then we are in for an awesome time.

Can't wait to see what the live action big screen version of Flash will look like compared to the television one.
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+0
8:59AM on 07/24/2014
I enjoyed the pilot, enjoyed it enough to have watched it 3 times now.
I enjoyed the pilot, enjoyed it enough to have watched it 3 times now.
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4:40AM on 07/24/2014
"It's trying to have some fun as a weekly superhero showcase" - that's all I need to know.
"It's trying to have some fun as a weekly superhero showcase" - that's all I need to know.
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3:23AM on 07/24/2014
I am just watching the first season of the Arrow. Let me start by saying I have enjoyed Arrow, but I must say that when compared to other new series it's style feels dated to me. There are people telling shorter, tightly scripted cinematic stories on television now and I have a feeling that Marvel are on the right track with their up coming series in keeping the episode count down at 13 episodes. Arrow still feels a little too Smallville in it's execution and it sounds like Flash may be
I am just watching the first season of the Arrow. Let me start by saying I have enjoyed Arrow, but I must say that when compared to other new series it's style feels dated to me. There are people telling shorter, tightly scripted cinematic stories on television now and I have a feeling that Marvel are on the right track with their up coming series in keeping the episode count down at 13 episodes. Arrow still feels a little too Smallville in it's execution and it sounds like Flash may be similar. I suspect that Daredevil will be a much more concentrated story.
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3:27AM on 07/24/2014
Come to think of it I had the same problem with Shield. Too Buddy the Vampire Slayer which was great for it's time but feels dated now that more television has evolved so much.
Come to think of it I had the same problem with Shield. Too Buddy the Vampire Slayer which was great for it's time but feels dated now that more television has evolved so much.
4:42AM on 07/24/2014
At first I didn't like the first season of Arrow as well. But by half of the first season, it starts to pick up the pace. Try to pull through the entire first season and you'll even enjoy the second season more.
At first I didn't like the first season of Arrow as well. But by half of the first season, it starts to pick up the pace. Try to pull through the entire first season and you'll even enjoy the second season more.
5:54AM on 07/24/2014
Cheers Netforce. I've just crossed the halfway point. Will stick with it.
Cheers Netforce. I've just crossed the halfway point. Will stick with it.
6:17AM on 07/24/2014
You're welcome, man.
You're welcome, man.
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