9.3/10 TVShow Time
Composer(s) Blake Neely
First episode date 7 October 2014
Country of origin United States
Networks The CW, TV Puls
|Genre Superhero fiction
Based on Characters from DC Comics
Developed by Greg Berlanti Andrew Kreisberg Geoff Johns
Starring Grant Gustin Candice Patton Danielle Panabaker Rick Cosnett Carlos Valdes Tom Cavanagh Jesse L. Martin Keiynan Lonsdale
Awards People's Choice Award for Favorite New TV Drama
Cast Grant Gustin, Danielle Panabaker, Candice Patton, Tom Cavanagh, Tom Felton
The Flash is an American television series developed by Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and Geoff Johns, airing on The CW. It is based on the DC Comics character Barry Allen / Flash, a costumed superhero crime-fighter with the power to move at superhuman speeds. It is a spin-off from Arrow, existing in the same fictional universe. The series follows Allen, portrayed by Grant Gustin, a crime scene investigator who gains super-human speed, which he uses to fight criminals, including others who have also gained superhuman abilities.
- Series overview
- Cast and characters
- Sound design
- Critical reception
- Digital comic
- Web series
- Video games
- Arrowverse and the DC multiverse
Initially envisioned as a backdoor pilot, the positive reception Gustin received during two appearances as Barry on Arrow led to executives choosing to develop a full pilot to make use of a larger budget and help flesh out Barry's world in more detail. Colleen Atwood, costume designer for Arrow, was brought in to design the Flash's suit. The creative team wanted to make sure that the Flash would resemble his comic book counterpart, and not simply be a poor imitation. The series is primarily filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
The Flash premiered in North America on October 7, 2014, where the pilot became the second-most watched premiere in the history of The CW, after The Vampire Diaries in 2009. It has been well received by critics and audiences, and won the People's Choice Award for "Favorite New TV Drama" in 2014. The series was renewed for a third season in March 2016, which premiered on October 4, 2016. The series, together with Arrow, has spun characters out to their own show, Legends of Tomorrow, which premiered on January 21, 2016. On January 8, 2017, The CW renewed the show for a fourth season.
After witnessing his mother's (Michelle Harrison) supernatural murder and his father's (John Wesley Shipp) wrongful conviction for the crime, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) is taken in by Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and his family. Allen becomes a brilliant but socially awkward crime scene investigator for the Central City Police Department. His obsession with his tragic past causes him to become an outcast among his peers; he investigates cold cases, paranormal occurrences, and cutting-edge scientific advancements that may shed light on his mother's murder. No one believes his description of the crime—that a ball of lightning with the face of a man invaded their home that night—and Allen is fiercely driven to vindicate himself and to clear his father's name. Fourteen years after his mother's death, an advanced particle accelerator malfunctions during its public unveiling, bathing the city center with a previously unknown form of radiation during a severe thunderstorm. Allen is struck by lightning from the storm and doused with chemicals in his lab. Awakening after a nine-month coma, he discovers he has the ability to move at superhuman speeds. Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), the disgraced designer of the failed particle accelerator, describes Barry's special nature as "metahuman"; Allen soon discovers that he is not the only one who was changed by the radiation. Allen vows to use his gifts to protect Central City from the escalating violence of metahuman and other criminals. As the Flash, a costumed superhero, Allen accumulates a number of recurring enemies known as the Rogues, whilst pursuing his mother's superhuman murderer the Reverse-Flash (Matt Letscher). He is aided by a few close friends and associates who guard his secrets.
Six months after the events of the first season, after a singularity event, the Flash is recognized as Central City's hero. However, the event brings an evil from a parallel universe to Central City in the form of the speedster Zoom (Teddy Sears; voiced by Tony Todd; Ryan Handley, in costume) who seeks to eliminate everyone connected to the Speed Force throughout the multiverse. Harrison Wells' parallel universe counterpart (nicknamed "Harry"), and his daughter Jesse (Violett Beane), work to help Barry and his friends stop Zoom. Joe and his daughter, Iris (Candice Patton), struggle with their shared painful past related to their family, especially after the arrival of Iris's brother Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale), whom Francine West (Vanessa A. Williams) gave birth to shortly after abandoning her family. After Zoom kills Barry's father, the season concludes with Barry travelling back in time to save his mother's life from the Reverse-Flash.
By changing his past, Barry drastically alters the entire timeline, resulting in the so-called "Flashpoint" timeline. Though he is able to restore the timeline to something resembling its usual state, this inadvertently creates new threats as well, including the emergence of Savitar (voiced by Tobin Bell), a godlike speedster with a grudge against Barry. After Harry and Jesse return to Earth-2, the gang recruit another Wells doppelgänger from Earth-19, although "H.R." Wells aspires to be a novelist and not a scientific genius. Meanwhile, both Wally and S.T.A.R. Labs scientist Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) begin to manifest metahuman abilities as a result of Barry's "Flashpoint" excursion. Wally suits up as Barry's speedster partner, Kid Flash, while Caitlin is forced to suppress her powers for fear of becoming evil like her Earth-2 counterpart, the ice-powered Killer Frost.
Cast and characters
On July 30, 2013, it was announced that Arrow co-creators Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, Arrow pilot director David Nutter, and DC Comics CCO Geoff Johns would develop a television series based on the Flash for The CW, and it would detail Barry Allen's origin. Kreisberg revealed after the announcement that Allen would first appear as a recurring character on Arrow in three episodes of season two—all written by Berlanti, Kreisberg and Johns—and the last of the episodes would act as a backdoor pilot for the new show. Kreisberg added that Allen would be a forensic scientist and the introduction of his superpowers, as well as the reactions to this, will be very human and grounded. Johns stated that the character of the Flash in the show would resemble his comic book counterpart, complete with his trademark red costume, and not be a poor imitation. Kreisberg elaborated: "No sweat suits or strange code names; he will be The Flash." While researching the best way to depict the Flash's lightning speed, Johns stated it would not just be the standard "blurring around".
Barry ultimately appeared twice in Arrow's second season, with the planned backdoor pilot cancelled in favor of a traditional pilot by The CW executives, who had been impressed by early cuts of Barry's first two episodes on Arrow. This allowed the creative team to flesh out Barry's story and his world on a bigger budget, as opposed to a backdoor pilot's constraint of incorporating characters from the parent show. The pilot was officially ordered on January 29, 2014, and was written by Berlanti, Kreisberg, and Johns, and directed by Nutter. On May 8, 2014, The Flash was officially picked up as a series, with an initial order of 13 episodes. Three more scripts were ordered in September 2014 following a positive response to newly completed episodes by executives, while a back ten was ordered the next month for a full 23-episode season.
With the commencement of production on the series' second season, former Arrow and Ugly Betty writer Gabrielle Stanton was promoted to executive producer and showrunner; after having served as consulting producer and writer on the first season's finale "Fast Enough". However, it was later reported that Kreisberg would be returning to sole showrunner duties at an unspecified time. That time was later proved to be at the start of 2016, "Potential Energy", when Stanton was no longer credited as being involved with the show.
The costume was designed by Colleen Atwood, who also designed the costumes for Arrow. It features a burgundy color scheme, a masked helmet, and gold accents throughout, and went through multiple adjustments from the moment it was placed in computer renderings to the day of filming the pilot. Primarily made of leather, the suit contains areas with a stretchable material to allow Gustin room to bend. According to Atwood "It was all about a costume that could sell speed, Grant [Gustin] was continually moving in the suit, so it had to be designed to make that all happen visually and functionally." It initially took Gustin approximately 40 minutes to get into his costume, as the first cowl was prosthetic and had to be zipped and glued to his face. This was cut down to approximately 15 minutes by episode eight, when designers were able to develop a new cowl that easily slid over Gustin's face and locked into place. Maya Mani replaced Atwood as the costume designer for the second season and made slight changes to the Flash costume, such as changing the color of his crest from yellow to white, being faithful to the Flash costume from the comics.
Production on the pilot began in March 2014, with filming taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia; additional filming for the series takes place in Portland, Oregon. On how action sequences are shot for the series, compared to Arrow, Gustin said, "When [Arrow] shoot[s] action sequences, pretty much what you see is what you get and they're really doing everything. We do a lot of plate shots that are empty shots of the area we’re going to be in and then they’re putting us in later in post. I do a lot of the fighting. I don’t have to do it full speed and then they ramp it up and a lot of people have to freeze and I keep moving. Then I have to clear frame and step back into frame. It’s really tedious stuff that we have to do. On theirs, they learn fight choreography and they shoot it from the perfect angles and what you see is what you get." Production on the third season began in early July 2016.
Arrow composer Blake Neely is the primary composer of the series, and was first hired in April 2014 to score the pilot. He had previously composed a theme for Barry Allen which was featured in Arrow's season two episodes "The Scientist" and "Three Ghosts". The theme was titled "The Scientist" when it was released on the Arrow: Season 2 soundtrack. According to Neely, "It had to be different [from Arrow] ... but it also couldn't be so different that it couldn't fit in the Arrow universe, ... it had to be in a style that could hold hands with Arrow." On December 18, 2014, WaterTower Music released a selection of music from The Flash/Arrow crossover episodes, as well as two bonus tracks from their respective 2014 midseason finales. The first season, two-disc soundtrack was released on October 16, 2015. The second season's soundtrack was released digitally on July 22, 2016, and in CD format on July 26, 2016.
The sound design for the show is handled by Mark Camperell. The sound effect for Barry is made up of elements of thunder, electricity, jets, fireballs, and various custom whooshes and impacts. Speaking about designing the sound for The Flash's ability, Mark says: "My approach for the sounds of The Flash’s ability was to editorially treat him like a really aggressively driven hot rod. This doesn’t mean that I used car sounds for him, though. What I mean is that when thinking about how to edit his sounds, I thought about it like cutting a car chase."
The Flash was screened at the Warner Bros. Television and DC Entertainment panel at San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2014. The series officially premiered on The CW on October 7, 2014, during the 2014–15 television season and also premiered in Canada on the same night. The second episode was screened at New York Comic Con on October 9, 2014, as a way to repay the viewers that watched the series' premiere episode. The series premiered in the United Kingdom and Ireland on October 28, 2014, and in Australia on December 3, 2014.
Regarding Gustin's debut as Barry Allen in Arrow and the potential for a series, IGN's Jesse Schedeen stated his concern: "Gustin doesn't come across as leading man material. His awkward bumbling intertwining with Felicity's was cute, but rarely did I get the impression that this character could or should be given his own spinoff series." Schedeen eventually warmed up to the character, however, once the "dorkiness and social awkwardness" were downplayed a bit and the emphasis was placed on "his keen scientific mind".
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 97% approval rating with an average rating of 7.5/10 based on 58 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "The Flash benefits from its purposefully light atmosphere, making it a superhero show uniquely geared toward genre fans as well as novices." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 73 out of 100, based on 27 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". IGN's Eric Goldman and Joshua Yehl praised the show's premise and cast after viewing a press screening copy of the pilot. Goldman and Yehl favorably compared it to Arrow, stating that The Flash progresses with a confidence that Arrow did not get until later in the series. Reviews for the series became increasingly positive as the season progressed, with the finale receiving critical acclaim. Noel Murray of The A.V. Club gave the season a B+ overall, giving praise to the pacing of the plot, the performances of the cast and the special effects, and also pointing out the series' boldness to embrace its comic book influences, something that conventional superhero shows tend not to do. Weekly episode reviewer Scott Von Doviak gave consistently high ratings to the season and awarded the season finale a perfect A grade, calling the episode "richly satisfying" and also commending the show for "[capturing] the essence of its source material in a fun, light-on-its-feet way that few other comic book adaptations have managed." He also gave high praise to the emotional value and performances of the cast, as well as the cliffhanger and multiple easter eggs found in the episode. The second season of The Flash scored a Metacritic rating of 81 out of 100 indicating "universal acclaim".
In 2016, Rolling Stone ranked the show #23 on its list of the "40 Best Science Fiction TV Shows of All Time".
The first episode of The Flash was watched by 4.8 million viewers and had a 1.9 18–49 demographic rating, making it The CW's most watched and highest rated series premiere since The Vampire Diaries in 2009. It also became The CW's second-most watched series premiere ever, behind 90210, and the third-highest rated in the 18–49 demographic. Factoring Live + 7 day ratings, the pilot was watched by a total of 6.8 million viewers, becoming The CW's most-watched telecast and the highest-rated premiere among men 18–34 (2.5 rating). It broke the previous record for the most-watched telecast held by the cycle 8 finale of America's Next Top Model in 2007 (6.69 million). Additionally, across all platforms, including initiated streams on digital platforms and total unduplicated viewers on-air over two airings the week of October 7, 2014, the premiere was seen more than 13 million times.
The Canadian premiere was watched by 3.11 million viewers, making it the most-watched broadcast that night and the second for that week. In the United Kingdom, the premiere was the fourth highest-rated broadcast of the week and the eleventh of that month, with 1.53 million viewers. The timeshifted version got 82,000 viewers. The premiere in Australia was the most-watched broadcast on pay television, with 129,000 viewers tuning in.
In 2016, according to an analysis from Parrot Analytics, which used ratings data (where available), peer-to-peer sharing, social media chatter, and other factors to estimate viewer demand for various shows, The Flash was the 5th most popular show in the world with 3.1 million demand expressions per day, behind Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Pretty Little Liars, and Westworld. TorrentFreak also gauged The Flash as the fourth most-torrented television show of 2016.
The Flash: Season Zero, written by Kreisberg, Brooke Eikmeier and Katherine Walczak, with art by Phil Hester and Eric Gapstur, is intended to take place between the pilot episode and episode 2. Kreisberg stated, "Barry will [already] be the Flash, he will have his team, everyone will be in that world, and we'll [sic] introducing a new set of villains that we won't be seeing on the TV show. It'll feel like the same heart, humor and spectacle that you get watching Flash." The comic will showcase the entire TV cast, plus new rogues, a group of circus performers who gained super powers as a result of the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator explosion. The group is led by Mr. Bliss, a character who first appeared in Starman. The comic launched digitally biweekly on September 8, 2014, with its first physical release featuring a collection of the digital releases, releasing on October 1.
On April 19, 2016, a four-part web series titled Chronicles of Cisco, premiered. The series, which was presented by AT&T, features Valdes and Britne Oldford reprise their role as Cisco Ramon and Shawna Baez / Peek-a-Boo, respectively. Set in the second season of the television series, the series sees Cisco attempting to make the Flash suit bulletproof and body-odor proof. While working on these, he receives a late-night Meta-Human Alert within S.T.A.R. Labs, and learns that Peek-a-Boo triggered the alert. She has come to S.T.A.R. Labs to make Cisco create a weapon for her, as he did for Golden Glider, Captain Cold, and Heatwave. When he does not cooperate, she shoots him. Cisco survives being shot, realizing that the orange soda he spilt on his shirt was the missing catalyst to his bulletproof formula. Cisco tries to bring Peek-a-Boo back to the pipeline, but she locks him in the cell instead. Cisco is then seen being woken up due to a call from Barry. He believes he dreamt the whole experience, until he finds the bullet that shot him on the ground.
The series has also been featured in other video games based off DC Comics property. In the mobile version of Injustice: Gods Among Us, the show's versions of the Flash and Reverse-Flash appear as alternate costumes for the Flash. The show's version of S.T.A.R. Labs also appears as a hidden area in Lego Dimensions.
On November 29, 2016, Titan Books released Flash: The Haunting of Barry Allen, a tie-in novelization written by Susan and Clay Griffith, set during the course of the second season, after Barry has closed the temporal anomaly that nearly destroyed Central City. Barry must seek help from Oliver Queen, due to his own abilities beginning to break down, in order to deal with five members of his Rogues Gallery—including Pied Piper, Weather Wizard, and Peekaboo. The story continued in Arrow — A Generation of Vipers, released on March 28, 2017.
Arrowverse and the DC multiverse
In January 2015, The CW president Mark Pedowitz announced the intention to do a Flash/Arrow crossover every season, and The CW announced that an animated web-series, Vixen, featuring the DC heroine of the same name and set in the universe of Arrow and The Flash, would be debuting on CW Seed in late 2015. The character is expected to make a live-action appearance on Arrow and/or The Flash as well. The next month, it was reported that a spin-off series, which is described as a superhero team-up show, was in discussion by The CW for a possible 2015–16 midseason release. Berlanti and Kreisberg would executive produce alongside Guggenheim and Sarah Schechter. The potential series would be headlined by several recurring characters from both Arrow and The Flash, with the potential for other Arrow/Flash characters to cross over to the new series as well. In May 2015, The CW officially picked up the series, titled DC's Legends of Tomorrow.
The second season begins to explore the concept of the multiverse, by introducing Earth-2, which features doppelgängers of the inhabitants in the Arrowverse (or Earth-1), along with Jay Garrick, the Flash of Earth-2, and Zoom. In the episode "Welcome to Earth-2", as Barry, Cisco and Harrison Wells of Earth-2 travel to Earth-2, glimpses of the multiverse are seen, including an image of Supergirl star Melissa Benoist as Supergirl and an image of John Wesley Shipp as the Flash from the 1990 television series, implying the two characters and their respective television series exist on alternate Earths to the Arrowverse; Supergirl's world is later designated Earth-38 in the Arrowverse multiverse. Gustin as Barry appeared on the eighteenth episode of Supergirl, "Worlds Finest", which aired on CBS on March 28, 2016. Intersecting with the events of the eighteenth episode of The Flash, which aired on April 19, 2016, Barry accidentally arrives on Earth-38 and helps Kara battle two of her enemies, Silver Banshee (Italia Ricci) and Livewire (Brit Morgan), before returning home.