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Thursday, June 01, 2017

Review: The Flash Season 1

Modern TV series have state: in other words, you're expected to watch them from beginning to end in sequence (and that's a good thing!), and watching episodes out of sequence wouldn't work as well. As a result, my habit is to wait for a sale on the TV series and then buy them and watch them, rather than wait a week between episodes.

The Flash is, of course, the TV show about the fastest man alive. With a big budget and high production values, it's a crowd pleaser. The initial set up is fun, and all of the characters are given little twists that are a lot of fun. For instance, Barry Allen is given a highly motivating back-story (i.e., his Dad's unjustly put in jail for his mom's murder). He's also given a support group consisting of a personal doctor, a tech guy who makes his gadgets and costumes, and a coach in the form of a professor Harrison Wells. He's given a long-standing love interest, a father-figure, and a romantic rival.

All of this is weaved into a story where the appearance of super-humans is given a rationale: the origin of The Flash also turns out to have created a bunch of super-powered humans, most of whom turned out to be villains, but some of whom get spun-off into their own superheroes, including some pretty obscure ones like Firestorm, which I got a kick out of.

What I liked about the series is that the exploration of Barry Allen's powers are gradual and staged. You're never overwhelmed with the large number of things that the Flash can do, and he never has so much power that he isn't vulnerable. Most of the characters are also very sympathetic and believable. I also liked the way the end of the first season's plot wrapped up, though it also introduced all sorts of time paradoxes that's left to the next season to follow up on. I also love the color palette of the world of The Flash. It's been fashionable to do "dark, grim and gritty" super heroes in recent years, and I like how bright and optimistic Barry Allen's world is.

What I disliked about the series is the early denouement of the villain. I felt like that robbed the reveal of any dramatic impact whatsoever, and by the time Barry Allen figures out who his enemy is, I'd long reconciled myself to it and his feeling of betrayal never quite got through to me. The last episode was by far the weakest, with multiple plot holes you can pour a speedster into. Also, comic-book gobbledy-gook seems a lot more acceptable when it's on paper than when it's spoken by actors.

Nonetheless, the show's quite fun and I found myself wanting to keep watching. It's not quite Buffy, but then again, even Josh Whedon has yet to top himself on that one.

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