Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Flash - City of Heroes

After introducing Grant Gustin as forensic scientist Barry Allen last season on Arrow, The Flash gets his own show the CW beginning with this pilot episode that introduces the main characters in Barry's life, the tragedy of his past, and the accident which turned him into the Fastest Man Alive. As nearly all pilots are, "City of Heroes" is a little rough in spots and a bit heavyhanded now and again in underlining specific ideas for the audience going forward. That said, other than the hero's costume (which needs an upgrade fairly soon), The Flash shows quite a bit of promise.

The pilot chooses to connect the lightning strike which gave Barry his powers with the exploding particle accelerator of Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) which apparently also gave a random sampling of the city super-powers when all manner of theoretical energy signatures bathed the city's populace. One such individual was bank robber Clyde Mardon (Chad Rook) who returns with the ability to control the weather. The concept is a bit to similar to Smallville's meteor freaks for my liking, but it does offer an explanation for super-powered heroes and villains popping up over the show's run. Personally I'd prefer more of the classic Flash villains whose skills were their intelligence in building and using freeze guns, complicated mirrors, and, yes, even boomerangs, to fight Central City's hero.

After the basic set-up and accident setting up Barry as a genius, if scatterbrained, forensic scientist obsessed with proving his father (John Wesley Shipp) wasn't responsible for the murder of his mother (Michelle Harrison), Barry awakes nine months later to discover the electric strike has changed his body chemistry and given the scientist super-speed which he decides to use to stop Mardon and others by becoming a hero like his pal Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell, who appears in a brief cameo).

Fans of the character's comic adventures will notice several nods to both the current New 52 and classic version of the Flash's world. The pilot keeps the revamped origin of the murder of Barry's mother (and even foreshadows the eventual appearance of the Reverse-Flash) along with introducing Iris West (Candice Patton) and her father Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) who raised Barry after his mother's death. We also are introduced to Iris' boyfriend Detective Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett) whose name suggests dark things in his future, and mentions of a future Crisis in which the Flash disappears, Wayne Tech, and even the appearance of a broken gorilla cage inside Star Labs with the nameplate for Grodd suggesting what once was kept inside. And the choice to cast Shipp as Barry's father is a nice tip of the cap to the 1990s live-action Flash series which ended well before its time.

Along with Cavanaugh whose altruistic purposes involving the accelerator and watching over Barry while in his coma, are far from the only reasons for the scientist's likely duplicitous actions, "City of Heroes" also introduces Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) as the only scientists to stay with Wells following the disaster with the particle accelerator and the near collapse of the company. This threesome, along with Det. West and Oliver Queen's team back in Starling City are the only ones who know Barry's secret (well, Barry also exposes his identity to a crazy weather controlling nutjob but you don't think that will come back to bite him in the ass, do you?).

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