TV: The Flash (1990) s1e1: Pilot

Rating: 8/10

After copy and pasting that Arrowverse viewing order list, I didn’t realize there was something else to watch before Arrow. But here is the Flash from the 1990s. Which has John Wesley Shipp playing Barry Allen, which Grant Gustin Flash fans might recognize as Henry Allen (Barry’s father) on the current Flash, along with a few other faces from different dimensions. This could have been the start of major network superhero shows, but instead it failed to find a good time slot to attract an audience and unfortunately only got one season.

In this episode, Barry Allen gets struck by lightning and becomes the Flash, literally overnight. It’s done well though, and actually fits right into the tone of the other Arrowverse shows, just twenty years before its time. It has a mix of action and comedy that you’d expect from almost any superhero show and also a much higher production value than I would have expected for a pilot. I guess in the case of superhero shows, you have to either go big or go home.

Barry’s brother is killed by the leader of a biker gang straight out of Mad Max and the Flash has to figure out how to use his powers and beat this gang before they kill again. There’s tons of action and a lot of tense moments that really put this above and beyond just another show from the same time period, and being an hour and a half long, which is fairly normal for a pilot, it feels more like a really good made-for-TV movie than just another episode.

A couple complaints, both concerning Iris West. Paula Marshal, who plays the character, does a fine job, and I know I’m just biased towards Candice Patton playing her on the current Flash, but Patton’s Iris West is such a strong character on today’s Flash it’s so strange to me seeing the character as being so one note. All I really learn about the character is that she’s an artist and she doesn’t want to get married. But the scientist Christina Magee, played by Amanda Pays, is a much stronger and far more interesting character in this episode.

Which brings me to my other complaint, yet another love triangle. This one between Barry and the two woman I mentioned in the previous paragraph. I guess it’s not “another” love triangle being that the shows Arrow and Flash of today are still twenty years in the future, but I see what they’re setting up and I’m just a bit disappointed there’s one here too. Still, I liked this episode enough I think I’ll watch another instead of going to sleep…

SCORING:

+10: Superhero pilots are pretty awesome I guess

-1: Iris West just isn’t as Iris West as she could be

-1: Dumb love triangles…

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