Fall TV 2014 Previews
An unprecedented night of entertainment attended by 33 panelists from shows “Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Gotham” and “Constantine” brought by DC Entertainment.
“The Flash” (October 7, 2014)
“My name is Barry Allen and I’m the fastest man alive.”
By now you may have heard this line from a trailer of a new CW’s TV show, “The Flash,” a spinoff of the highly popular superhero drama,“Arrow.” I had the pleasure to see the pilot of “Arrow” two years ago at Comic-Con and was blown away of how incredible it was and had no doubt it would be a huge hit. It is.
Get ready for another hit. When I watched the pilot of “The Flash” this past July at the convention, I was struck by how fantastic it was. Unlike its darker and dramatic cousin, “The Flash” is lighter and flashier. This is not to say that the story is all light and flash; like many superheroes, Barry Allen (Flash) has a tragic family backstory going back to his childhood. But the character itself is endearing and Grant Gustin brings a gusher’s worth of charm, nerdiness, goodness, intelligence and sensitivity to the role. Think Andrew Garfield and Peter Parker in “The Amazing Spider-Man.”
After getting hit by lightning striking through his lab during an energy explosion and falling into a prolonged coma, Barry wakes up a changed man. The show flashes back to his uneasy childhood where he faced getting bullied. The young boy later witnessed the loss of his mother in a freak incident and his dad was unfairly held responsible for it. A detective friend of his dad took him and raised him like his own son. Growing up with his daughter, they become best friends and Barry eventually grows up to be a forensic technician.
Awed and gleeful describe the moments when Barry discovers his lightning speed and fast-healing power, and does a test run in the field, mixed with vulnerability as skeptics doubt his capability. He’s also trying to piece together what really happened the night his mother died. A heart-to-heart talk with his dad in prison is very touching.
Supported by a few scientists whose lab was destroyed in the explosion, Barry receives his fiery suit and the Flash is born. There’s a funny scene where Barry gets prepped in a preliminary, bright red spandex, before the final suit appears. A brief cameo from another superhero and pep talk makes Barry realize his destiny and a chance to finally be extraordinary. All his life he’s been searching for the impossible and now he becomes one.
Soon the world learns that Barry is not the only ‘meta-human’ (human with superpowers). The detonation cloud from the incident has spread particles that affect select humans within a radius of the explosion. One of them can control the weather and wreak havoc in the city. Steeped with insecurities, Barry must find the courage within and step up to become the hero he’s meant to be. There’s a cool storm-spinning scene, when Barry, as the Flash, outruns and vanquishes the villain’s power.
The ending piques my curiosity as it offers glimpse of a mysterious future and intriguing questions.
“The Flash” will be on my weekly viewing schedule!
“Gotham” (September 22, 2014)
“Gotham” is a story before Batman ever begins.
It’s an origin story of Bruce Wayne as a child, along with the origins of his eventual nemeses, such as Catwoman, Riddler, Penguin or Poison Ivy. The show is more of a crime procedural, told from an idealistic rookie detective James Gordon’s (Benjamin McKenzie) vantage point. It shows how he navigates his way as a law enforcement officer, along with his jaded partner, in a city filled with corruption and mobsters. Standouts include ruthless crime boss Fish Mooney and victimized villain Penguin.
The pilot shows the heartbreaking death of Bruce’s parents, shot to the death in the alley by a robber in a mask, with Bruce in shock and wailing. Gordon meets with the traumatized boy and tries to soothe his grief by promising that he would catch the perpetrator and imparting hope that there will be light at the end of the dark tunnel.
The show has shining moments, instances that catch you offguard and keep you at the edge of your seat, not sure what’s coming next and how the disturbing scenes would unfold. At the same time, there are extended scenes that could easily be cut.
Brutal, gritty with a semi-stylized look, the show warrants a viewing, but it’s not exactly clear what direction the show is going to take or who the target audience would be. The shock value is appropriate for a crime drama, but this is also a show with character elements found in superhero shows, combined with young versions of the villains. If the show can find the right balance and maintain the intrigue and pacing, it might just find a foothold.
Photos by Nathalia Aryani.
Copyright (c) 2014. Nathalia Aryani.
Nathalia Aryani is a film columnist and has a movie blog, The MovieMaven (http://sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: http://twitter.com/the_moviemaven. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.