In The Six Million Dollar Man when Steve Austin was running at light speed in the 1970s the sequences were all filmed in slow-mo, aided by sound effects. But it worked a treat and we suspended disbelief.
In The Flash, Barry Allen gets a turbo-boost thanks to CGI, depicted as a blur with a fiery jetstream. The Flash also succeeds in what has emerged as a spirited comic book brought to life.
As a spin-off from Arrow, this series comes from the prolific Greg Beranti (Arrow, Brothers and Sisters, Dawson’s Creek, Everwood, Eli Stone, Dirty Sexy Money, No Ordinary Family).
The hero is Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), a boyish assistant forensic investigator for Central City Police Department. Think a youthful Dexter, ready to use his powers for good rather than evil.
There’s a dash of Batman DNA in the Flash universe, with Central City a lighter sibling of Gotham, and Barry having seen his mother die when he was just a boy. Now he has to right the wrong of his father being falsely accused of her murder.
But first there is some rescuing to be done, and thanks to a lightning bolt enhanced by a wayward science experiment from Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) he has super-speeds and a skin-tight suit to match. But it turns out he’s not the only kid with super-powers (perhaps just the only one with a conscience). There are baddies in Gotham, err Central City, and they all have their own CGI skills -which makes this kinda fun.
The emotional heart surrounds Barry’s affection for Iris West (Candice Patton), daughter of the wise and caring Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin). Like all good comic book heroes, Barry has to keep his secret from Iris, for fear of putting her at risk from less friendly ‘meta-humans.’
The Flash also harbours duplicitous characters and a hint of humour, carefully ticking all the genre boxes. Pleasingly, it bursts out with more confidence than recent siblings including Arrow and Gotham and reminds me of the fun of early episodes of Heroes and Smallville.
Pretty-boy Grant Gustin has none of the rippling pecs of Arrow’s Stephen Amell, yet he fulfils the role with surprising ease. Watch out for Tom Cavanagh, better known for the sitcom Ed, poised to have the most fun as Barry’s mentor.
Sometimes the dialogue is popcorn-like, but while other shows may feel cookie cutter, this one demonstrates a deeper understanding of the superhero genre without over-egging it.
The music by Blake Neely also is worth a mention, enhancing the show’s driving action scenes.
Adrenalin fun with its own sizzle.
The Flash premieres 7:30pm Wednesday on FOX8.