‘The Flash’ delivers fast fun

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

A few episodes into “The Flash,” Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), a forensic scientist who thanks to a freak accident involving a particle accelerator is also the “fastest man alive,” tells us in voice over that “being alive means running.” He says that we all run from something or to something (or someone) but there are some things you can’t outrun. For Barry, it’s the pain caused by his mother’s death and his father’s imprisonment for her murder. Put simply, the fastest man alive can’t outrun his past. It’s a simple metaphor that neatly sums up the show’s main theme. It’s also as deep as it gets which thanks to good chemistry among the cast and a solid performance from Gustin is not a bad thing. “The Flash” knows exactly what it wants to be and delivers an entertaining superhero story.

The latest television incarnation of a DC Comics character, “The Flash” is a spin-off of “Arrow.” Barry is introduced over two episodes in “Arrow’s” second season. This lays the groundwork for the series but you won’t feel lost if you didn’t see it. The pilot episode of “The Flash” is a tightly scripted story that provides everything you need to know about Barry pre and post speed. His mother’s mysterious murder and his father’s wrongful imprisonment fuel his desire for justice and he dedicates himself to clearing his father’s name. He works with Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) a family friend who takes Barry in after his mother’s death. Joe’s daughter Iris (Candace Patton) is Barry’s best friend. Martin and Gustin have a nice father/son rapport and the writers keep their relationship from becoming a string of far-fetched close calls by allowing Joe to quickly figure out Barry’s secret identity.

Weekly story lines are about Barry helping ordinary citizens who may be getting mugged at knife point but then, thanks to his impossible-to-see speed, end up holding the knife and scaring off their attacker. These lighthearted scenes are juxtaposed with a villain of the week story where Barry helps Joe capture other “meta-humans” like himself who have been effected by the particle accelerator accident but decide to use their powers for evil. While these are the more serious plots, they are not dark enough to threaten the show’s overall light tone.

One of the more interesting characters is Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), the scientist and head of STAR Labs who is responsible for the accelerator accident and whose intentions for Barry are not what they seem. His employees Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdez) and Dr. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) provide Barry with tech and medical support so he can fight the bad guys. They are the usual smart, geeky scientists who rattle off jargon and a few good one-liners.

Barry has more than a little Peter Parker in him as he figures out the moral and ethical implications of his new superpowers. He’s also a sweet, slightly dorky Clark Kent in love with a girl (Iris) who is fascinated with the man she calls “the streak” but only sees Barry as a friend. The combination works thanks to Gustin’s charm and earnestness, making “The Flash” fast fun.

“The Flash” is on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EDT on the CW.