Monday, 26 October 2015

The Flash: Season 1

We live in a time of “superhero fatigue”. We cannot turn on our televisions, go to the cinema, hell, even watch Netflix without seeing another superhero trailer or advert or series about a character we barely know, but will pretend to so we don’t seem uncool. DC, however, has got its claws deeper into cable television than Marvel has, with Arrow and The Flash raking in huge ratings consistently. And having watched The Flash, it’s understandable.

Barry Allen is The Flash, or at least he is when he gets struck by lightning caused by a malfunction in a particle accelerator. But Allen isn’t the only one to be struck by this lightning. Countless people across Central City are “infected” and have been turned into meta-humans, people with superhuman abilities. While Allen comes to grips with his newfound super-speed, he must find increasingly complex ways to take down evil meta-humans, all while focusing on solving the murder of his mother 15 years ago and releasing his wrongly accused father from prison.

Usually I’d try to segue the review into my first point, but I can’t, because there’s a huge issue I have with The Flash that I need to get off my chest. The dialogue. It is dreadful. It is absolutely abhorrent. Why on Earth am I listening to adults, no, academic, highly-regarded scientists speak like 3 year-olds is beyond me. When one of the leading scientists main function in the story is to name the evil meta-humans and yell “what the frack?” when something weird is happening, you know that the show is far too tame. And that’s a general problem The Flash has. It is way too tame. It’s all fairy-lights and chocolate milkshake, until one of the characters gets absorbed, or melted, difficult to tell, either way it’s gruesome. I think the show needs to figure out what it is – is it a gritty, real-life superhero show, or is it an over-the-top, all-in superhero show? There is no right answer. Everyone has a preference. But to stay somewhere in the middle is just confusing.

While most of the characters act like gigantic babies and spit their dummies out whenever one of them says something even remotely offensive, some of the characters shine. Jesse L. Martin as Det. Joe West is absolutely stellar. The show asks of a different kind of character from him every episode, and he embraces it and makes it his own. From fear to love to anger, he is fantastic. And Candice Patton is great as the Detective’s daughter, Iris, who gets the rawest deal throughout the show, left in limbo for the entirety, and yet somehow being the core of everything. Those two make a great on-screen duo, one of the best I’ve seen in a while. It’s so easy to get invested in them.

But the real investment comes from the story. The story sounds pretty simple, and sets it up nicely for a simple structure in which you defeat a meta-human in one episode, then defeat another in the next and so on, but there is a fantastic secondary plot that forces its way to the front, and that is what will make you want to keep watching. It is a damn-good story, even if it does only start halfway through the season, but your persistence is rewarded. It’s got twists and turns, it’s got sacrifice and heartbreak, and it’s got some pretty cool action sequences too, especially in The Flash vs Arrow – no points for guessing who fights in that one.

The Flash is a good TV show. It’s entertaining, it’s engaging, and it’s accessible to people who don’t care for superheroes, I just wish they’d sort out some of the characters because it’s almost cringe worthy enough to turn off. But stick it out, and you may just find yourself enjoying it.

The Flash speeds up eventually and doesn’t fatigue 3/5.


Jonny Naylor

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