The Flash is the crime-fighting alter-ego of mild-mannered forensic scientist Barry Allen, who gets cooked by lighting following a particle accelerator explosion and awakes from a coma with a fleet-footedness that makes Usain Bolt look like a tortoise.
He’s a DC Comics creation, so no, you won’t have seen The Flash in any of those really good Marvel movies. Though you might have seen him in Justice League, as played by Ezra Miller. Flash the series, and the actor portraying the titular speedster, Grant Gustin, are much superior.
Did we mention how good Grant Gustin is? He plays the dual role with such heart, charm and conviction that whether he’s whizzing around Central City as The Flash, or being the doting son who wants nothing more than his imprisoned father’s freedom, he sells the hell out of all of it.
Daddy Allen is in the slammer after being wrongfully convicted of killing Mamma Allen, and if you think the actor looks familiar, you’d be right. In a perfectly-cast nod to The Flash’s past, Henry Allen is played by John Wesley Shipp, who portrayed the superhero in the 1990 TV series incarnation. He also played Dawson’s perfect pappa Mitch in Dawson’s Creek.
‘Who killed Barry’s mother?’ is the presiding mystery in The Flash’s first season, and try as you might to play detective, the way it plays out is often thrillingly unexpected.
The balance between the overarching story and ‘baddie of the week’ is just about perfect. There are enough self-contained stories to keep the plot from running away from you, but the big mysteries are really what’ll keep pulling you back in.
When you see The Flash title card appear at the end of each episode, make sure you stick around; the mystery-deepening hooks that bookend each instalment are among the show’s most satisfying moments.
Even the greatest superheroes need back-up, and Team Flash are the best. From complicated bio-engineer Caitlin Snow to mechanical engineer and one-liner boy wonder Cisco, and of course their enigmatic leader Professor Harrison Wells, the supporting characters are so well-rounded you’ll invest just as much in their stories.
And of course, there’s a love interest. Or make that unrequited love interest. Barry holds a candle for Iris West, who in the classic superhero tradition is blind to both his romantic intentions and his Flashier side.
What’s a superhero without supervillains? The particle accelerator explosion didn’t just create a hero; it also gave rise to a bunch of ‘metahumans’ with bad intentions. ‘The Mist’, ‘Weather Wizard’, ‘Girder’, Firestorm’ – The Flash’s adversaries are as plentiful as they are memorable. You can thank Cisco for their cool nicknames.
The Flash is a part of the Arrowverse, which comprises the likes of Arrow, Supergirl and Legends Of Tomorrow, so you can expect to see characters like Oliver Queen make the occasional appearance. The crossover episodes where the CW’s finest superheroes all get to play in the same sandpit are true event TV.
The Flash premieres with a double-episode from 8.30 tonight on ELEVEN