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22 April 2015 @ 04:03 pm
TV Review: The Flash  
Over the weekend I babysat my cousin's son and together we marathon watched episodes of The Flash. Not having seen a single episode of The Arrow of which this show is the spin off of, I thought I was going to be bored. Turns out I got even more into it than my cousin's 10 year old.


The show centers around forensic scientist Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) who after getting stuck by lightening develops super speed. As the very helpful voiceover tells us, his mother was killed in some sort of bizarre attack in their home and his father was wrongfully put in prison for it. The mystery surrounding who killed Barry's mom is the central overarching plot within a show that is pretty standard in its Freak of the Week approach. Barry has teamed up with the workers of STAR Lab, led by Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) and two science geniuses, Dr. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes). Together they all fight crime! Every week! With speed!

In terms of plot and character building, the show is pretty mild. Sure, there are some interesting twists here and there which I won't reveal but the main character, Barry is straightforwardly good guy who despite
the crap hand life has dealt him is a pretty cheerful, sunny person who wants to help people. You'd think this would get boring but much like the Steve Rogers effect, Barry is a nice guy who deserves nice things and you always root for him as he begins to learn how to control his powers. And on a completely superficial note, I like that while Grant Gustin is clearly in good shape, they keep his bulk at normal levels. If anything, he kind of looks like he's built out of Twizzlers. He does not look like a man who went on a special diet to gain muscle mass and it makes sense because his power is to be fast and increased weight would slow him down. I say this because Barry looking like a normal guy fits with how relatable he is as a person. So it's largely on the performance of Gustin and Barry's characterization that I want to keep watching this show because ultimately I want Barry to be happy. It's certainly not because the science of this show makes any sense whatsoever.

Along with the characterization of Barry, some other winning points in this show is the slew of interesting guest villains we get. The villains are really very cheesy in a very stereotypical comic book way. They make cackling jokes and scene chew like nothing else but it weirdly works within the tone of the show. My personal favorite so far is Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell having a Prison Break reunion as two supervillains who team up as Captain Cold and Heatwave (I kid you not and you can guess their powers).

I also love the way they use Barry's powers for comedy and also just very non-emergency practical things. Like when Cisco wanted a photo of the whole team and Barry managed to take the picture and also be in it by superspeeding to the front of the camera after hitting the shutter button. Why use timers when you have superspeed? I'll just ignore that it implies Barry can travel faster than the speed of light (which he clearly cannot). Also, his speed was very handy when a drunk coworker had to get outside ASAP to throw up and needed to get home before passing out. But the speed can be an issue when sometimes he's so fast that clothes catch fire. Again, WTFSCIENCE but just go with it.

The biggest flaw I have for this show is the ongoing one sided romance between Barry and his childhood best friend, Iris West (Candice Patton). Their story is completely the Clark Kent and Lana Lang of Smallville only a little more annoying. While Barry is in love with Iris, Iris has told him many times that she is not interested in Barry in that way. Plus, she's dating someone whom Barry is actually friends with. My problem with this story is that for the purposes of keeping the tension going and not having Barry be THAT GUY who continues to pine and hang around Iris to the discomfort of everyone, the writers have thrown Iris under the character assassination bus. There are a couple of occassions where clearly Barry is trying to move on from Iris but she keeps roping him back in and vaguely sabotaging his potential romance with another woman which is so not okay. I can sort of get behind her character being conflicted but the writers handle it in a way that makes her seem just selfish and overbearing rather than sympathetic which is a shame.

All in all, I find Barry to be the slightly less tragic version of Steve Rogers and much like that character, I want only puppies and good things to happen to him. No angst for Barry Allen! I feel like the show is almost listening to me because while he certainly gets things to angst about as the series goes on, he remains weirdly upbeat about a lot of things.
 
 
 
X-parrotxparrot on April 22nd, 2015 11:55 pm (UTC)
I admit that while I love Arrow (it has its ups and downs, this season's been a bit rocky, but when it is on it is ON), I'm not a huge fan of Flash - which is 80% due to the whole Lying to Iris thing. It's not even that I like Iris that much, but it is one of the most ridiculous cases of forced superhero secret-identity-keeping I've ever seen, and that's a bugaboo of mine (worsened by over-exposure to Smallville...) It makes me dislike Barry because I'm always going WHYYYYY DON'T YOU TELL HER?! Especially because Arrow actually had one of the only secret-keeping scenarios that's ever made sense to me, so I'm perpetually disappointed that The Flash is so much sloppier about it :P

But I do like that it's a more cheerful take on superheroing, that Barry doesn't angst about having cool superpowers and has no interest in being 'normal' when he can be a frickin' superhero! And heh, I never watched Prison Break, but that explains why the Captain Cold actor looked familiar (and yeah, Flash's Rogue Gallery has always been one of the silliest collections of supervillains in the DCU. I'm eagerly awaiting Gorilla Grodd to do more than cameo!)
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 23rd, 2015 12:11 am (UTC)
Iris' character has quickly been lost to the "We Men Must Protect" scenario because both Barry and Joe seem to think that her knowing his real identity will put her in more danger when really, I feel like the opposite is true. Plus, having the secret identity thing be the reason why Iris and Eddie are having relationship problems is just STUPID. Especially since the writers have managed to make the real situation of Eddie and everyone lying to Iris be awful and also Iris' reaction to this being a demand of "YOU MUST TELL ME EVERYTHING NO SECRETS" be equally awful.

But I do like that it's a more cheerful take on superheroing, that Barry doesn't angst about having cool superpowers and has no interest in being 'normal' when he can be a frickin' superhero!

After years of the Angsting Superhero, I really like the new wave of people genuinely enjoying their powers and being able to have fun while saving the world. There was a brief blip at the beginning but once Barry committed to helping people, this was not the source of any real angst in the "my burden is heavy" variety. I like that any upset Barry feels comes from the storyline about his mother's death which is more understandable. But superhero time is fun time!

I'm eagerly awaiting Gorilla Grodd to do more than cameo!

I think Grodd is up as the main villain in the next episode. I think.
X-parrotxparrot on April 23rd, 2015 12:23 am (UTC)
Yeeeah, that's why I hate the lying to Iris thing, because the "we can't tell you to protect you" makes NO FREAKING SENSE. It almost never does. Because if you're close to a superhero, then the supervillains might target you, whether or not you know who the superhero really is. If Iris had zero relationship to the Flash, then maaaaaybe you could justify keeping her out of it (though it would be a stretch). But instead she's front-and-center with the Flash, not telling her just makes her MORE curious and so more likely to continue following the Flash around. Not to mention she is a GROWN WOMAN (even if she acts like an immature teen a lot, I kind of wonder if the show was originally pitched as a high school show and then aged up because most of the chars behave like teenagers emotionally...they are comic book chars, but still...) And as an adult, she can make decisions about her own safety - as long as she's fully informed.

..aaaargh yeah, like I said, it's my bugaboo! And really, just as bad as not telling Iris is not telling the police. And the citizens! There are SUPER-POWERED CRIMINALS running around - if they really cared about safety, Barry and Joe would tell their colleagues - all their colleagues - if not about Barry (though seriously, why not?) then at least about the general idea of metahumans, to know to watch out for them. Heck, they should be telling the whole city! "If you or someone you know has been exhibiting strange abilities since the accelerator explosion, call this hotline now!" I'm honestly curious why Wells hasn't done something like this, actually, it would help him stay on top of any new unexpected timeline-divergent villains. But really, the police, too. How many lives could it save if people were actually aware of the risks?

...eheheheh yeeeeeeeeeah sorry for the rant. Most of this is from Smallville but it makes even less sense in Flash - and I know it's meant to be a silly show and one shouldn't overthink it, but...I can't help myself! ^^;

Hee, yay Grodd! I'm an ep or two behind, I think, but looking forward to that!
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 23rd, 2015 12:36 am (UTC)
I'd also like to add that while I know they have to use the actual names from the comics, some of these villain names are straight up hilarious because they are so on point with their powers. Like Roy G. Bivolo and Brie Larvan take the absolute cake. The first time I heard Roy G. Bivolo I laughed so hard my cousin's son asked me if I was okay.
X-parrotxparrot on April 23rd, 2015 12:41 am (UTC)
Ahahah the names! I don't know if I met Roy G. Bivolo (I likely am just forgetting) - but Leonard Snart...poor Leonard Snart, with a name like that, becoming a supervillain isn't so much a choice as a destiny...!

Edited at 2015-04-23 12:41 am (UTC)
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 23rd, 2015 12:46 am (UTC)
Poor Leonard Snart. I like that the show did not skip over how bad his name was with Barry commenting that Leonard is worse than Bartholomew while Joe was like, "Hello, SNART?!"
Liliaethliliaeth on April 23rd, 2015 02:48 am (UTC)
Honestly, by now the cynic anti-heroes are so common, that the chars that really catch my heart, are the actually good guys.

You know, like Scott McCall on Teen Wolf, Steve Rogers in the MCU, Nick Burkhardt on Grimm and Barry Allen on the Flash. Those chars are like a breath of fresh air in a media that's filled to the brim with the grim and gritty anti-heroes suffering from oh so much manpain.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 23rd, 2015 03:00 am (UTC)
You know, like Scott McCall on Teen Wolf,

Yes! Scott McCall is an excellent example. I love how he's nicely juxtaposed to someone like Derek Hale who, let's face it, would find reason to brood if someone gave him a cupcake.
Liliaethliliaeth on April 23rd, 2015 03:08 am (UTC)
lol, true, I mean, I actually like Derek, mostly due to Hoechlin, but when I see some of the Scott haters go onab out how Derek is 'oh so much more interesting', I start looking at the actual character and honestly, s1-s3a Derek was one of the worst written chars imaginable, because all he was, was angst, it's like there was nothing in his personality but his dark and tragic pain. It's kinda comparable to Angel on btvs, Up to s3, Derek was Angel of Buffy s1.

To me, the only way Derek could work as a character is when put next to Scott.

But then, scerek kinda remind me of Duncan and Methos from Highlander, where it's the very contrast between the two that makes the ship work.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 23rd, 2015 03:14 am (UTC)
Every time I watch Teen Wolf, I always wish Derek could be an actual character with his own personality rather than be a foil. I feel like the Sterek pairing is so popular because Derek is a character who only really works if he's against someone who is so very much the opposite of angst. Hoechlin is clearly trying but you can only do so much when the scripts tell you to either glower or angrily glower.
Liliaethliliaeth on April 23rd, 2015 03:19 am (UTC)
Honestly, I think that's why Sterek doesn't work for me, exactly because Stiles and him are so well... alike. They're both cynics, they both have a tendency to be assholes, and they both think kill first.
(it's the same reason why I never saw Buffy/Angel working out, because they're too alike in all the wrong ways)

But of course sterek fans have a tendency to take Scott's personality and giving it to Stiles, because I doubt many of them actually care about Stiles canon char.

Though admittely, Stiles stans on Tumblr have so soured me on the character, that while Stiles used to be someone I just wasn't all that interested in, he ended up becoming the char I despise the most on the show.

Edited at 2015-04-23 03:22 am (UTC)
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 23rd, 2015 03:23 am (UTC)
The biggest problem for me with any sort of fannish pairing for Derek is that he so lacks a real personality that fans go crazy giving him whatever personality to fit the fics and really, you almost can't blame them because almost anything can feel IC or OC.

I don't have very strong feelings for Stiles one way or the other. I used to like what he seemed to stand for in the first two seasons as the one regular guy in a world of supernaturals. But after the whole Nogitsune thing, he doesn't even really have that.

Edited at 2015-04-23 03:24 am (UTC)
Liliaethliliaeth on April 23rd, 2015 03:27 am (UTC)
Agreed, I think it's one of many reasons why I like s4 so much. Because it's the season where Derek actually got a personality beyond the angst.

It's why I love Derek with Braeden, he's just a more fully rounded character when he's around her. That and the way they've been developping his relationship with Scott.

It brings out his big brotherness, and gives him a sense of humor, that I often felt was missing in the earlier seasons of the character.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 23rd, 2015 03:30 am (UTC)
Maybe I'll actually watch season 4. I gave up after season 3. I mainly bailed on season 4 because the show was starting to fill up with new characters that I just could not care about.

It's a shame that just as Derek gets a personality, he's getting demoted down to a reoccurring character.
Liliaethliliaeth on April 23rd, 2015 03:32 am (UTC)
One big problem for me with Stiles, ... is that he has had zero character development in all four seasons of Teen Wolf.

You'd think that for all that the nogitsune arc was crap, that it would have at least given him some ... growth, some change, that somehow, it'd have matured him a bit. But it just hasn't...
He's still the same annoying guy he was in s1.

At least with Xander, there's a markable change between s1 Xander and s7 Xander (to the point that Whedon felt they had to bring in Andrew to play the char that Xander used to be in s1)

With Stiles, despite his overly large amount of screentime, that growth just isn't there.

As of the new characters, i'm biased, sicne I love the relationship they created between Scott and Liam. Allowing Scott to become a mentor, watch him make mistakes with the boy, it really livened up the show for me.

That and it put the focus back on Scott where it belonged.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 23rd, 2015 03:36 am (UTC)
I know sometimes Scott gets a bad rap for being a dull hero but he's done the impossible of growing up through the series while still remaining a mostly sweet kid at heart. Plus, I find he brings the best out in many of the other characters.
Liliaethliliaeth on April 23rd, 2015 03:42 am (UTC)
Honestly, the people who call Scott 'boring', are most of the times the exact same people who then write sterek fics that have Stiles behaving exactly likes Scott does on the show, just giving Scott's personality and interactions with Derek to Stiles.

Scott to me is unique in his ability to grow, combined with the way he treats women, a combination of kindness, respect and admission of his softer side. Like he doesn't feel the need to put on a front of pretending he knows more than he does.

Scott's one of those guys who make everyone around him better, and that works incredibly well for a main character.

I just wish that fandom would give him his due, instead of erasing him, turning him into the bad guy, or pushing him into the wacky sidekick role, just so they can glorify Stiles and/or Derek
Liliaethliliaeth on April 23rd, 2015 03:36 am (UTC)
A mistake that a lot of people, me included, made before s4, was that it was assummed that Liam was a replacement for Jackson, while Mason would be Liam's Danny.

Only as it turned out, Liam is actually Scott 201, whereas Mason is a less annoying version of Stiles. They're basically younger versions of the sciles friendship and thus point a light at Scott and stiles' friendship. Giving them an actual point in the story.