What Made Season 1 of The Flash So Great?

Tuesday, 02 June 2015 - 2:47PM
DC Comics
The Flash
Tuesday, 02 June 2015 - 2:47PM
What Made Season 1 of The Flash So Great?
The first season of the CW's new hit comic book show The Flash has come to an end and it couldn't have been better. The show has a lot to boast about, including the 2014 People's Choice Award for "Favorite New TV Drama" and having a series premiere with the second highest viewership ever on the CW. Not to mention, many are calling it the best comic book show on TV. That's quite a lot of hype, but The Flash definitely lives up to it.

So what is it that made season one of The Flash so great? While the list of factors that go into making a great TV show is long -too long for one article - there are a number of things that The Flash did particularly well. So, without further ado, here are four things that factored into the equation of The Flash's greatness.

The Right Balance of Source Material and Originality



You can't please everyone. This fact cannot be seen any clearer than when viewing the reaction of comic book fans to live action adaptions that are made of their favorite characters. Change too much, and the creative teams behind such adaptions risk losing their intended fan base. Don't change enough, and they risk losing more than just the initial fan base by making things too cartoony and unrealistic. However, the creative teams behind The Flash seem to have learned spectacularly well how to stay true to the source material while introducing original concepts into the mix to keep things fresh. 

Consider the origins of The Flash. In the comics, Barry Allen was soaked in chemicals in his lab when a lightning bolt came crashing down onto them. Whereas in the TV show, the lightning bolt (which was revealed to be formed by energy from S.T.A.R. labs particle accelerator) hit Barry directly. Both origins are extremely similar, each with a lightning bolt turning Barry Allen into the Flash, but the show added a new factor into the mix - the particle accelerator. Introducing this original concept into the show allowed the writers behind The Flash to keep things interesting and create a plot device that became central to the show while still staying close to the source material. 

Of course, there are other examples of this as well. Two of this seasons main villains, Captain Cold and the Reverse Flash, both remained close to their comic counterparts while getting new twists to their characters. Eobard Thawne, A.K.A. the Reverse Flash is still a speedster from the future with a deep hatred for the Flash, but in the show he is also the one responsible for creating the Flash and actually worked alongside him for quite some time while in disguise - an original spin on the character that made for one extremely intriguing storyline. Likewise, Captain Cold still serves as the leader of the Flash's gallery of rogues using his infamous cold gun. In the show, however, his gun was originally made by one of the Flash's partners, Cisco Ramon, a new idea that also added spice to the dynamic of the S.T.A.R. labs team. Though these twists and tweaks may be minor, they allowed the show to keep an element of surprise for their core of knowledgeable comic book fans, all while ensuring they didn't deviate too far from their source material.

The Performances



Another factor in The Flash's greatness is without doubt its cast. Grant Gustin has become so popular he has many fans wondering if Ezra Miller's big screen take on the Flash will be able to measure up, with Arrow's Stephen Amell going as far as to say that Gustin should have been given a shot at the role. Similarly, Tom Cavanagh played the show's lead villain so perfectly, many members of the show's audience are dying to see him return next season. Carlos Valdes served as the geeky comic relief, while Danielle Panabaker showed plenty of promise and got us excited for her upcoming transformation into Killer Frost. Even Jesse L. Martin and Candice Patton, who played Joe and Iris West, pulled off their roles with finesse despite some backlash over being of a different ethnicity than their comic book counterparts. While other comic book shows can boast similarly excellent casts, can any really measure up to the dynamics that these actors bring to the screen? Fans took to Gustin's portrayal of the titular hero almost instantly, and it didn't take much longer for them to fall in love with the show's supporting cast members either.

The Right Blend of Action, Drama, and Romance



Comic book shows can't just be all about beating up bad guys and superpowered showdowns, they also need some drama and romance thrown into the mix as well. Throughout the years, many shows in the genre have struggled to find just the right balance of these three factors, with some lacking depth and others spending too much time on meandering romance arcs. It would seem that The Flash has learned from its predecessors though, as season one landed right in the sweet spot where action, drama, sci-fi, and romance melt together in perfection.

Just enough time was spent on Barry's attraction to Iris, but not enough for it to turn into an annoyance or a distraction. The show also paid enough attention to its underlying story arc, and it did so at just the right times and in just the right ways, foreshadowing the resolution that would come in the season finale without giving too much away at once. And of course the action and the fight scenes were absolutely phenomenal as well, producing some of the year's best 'edge of your seat' moments.

Too often superhero shows turn into over-dramatized love stories, but not the Flash. If anything, there's a case to be made that we never really got to see enough of Iris to really care about her relationship with Barry, but you can expect that to be rectified in season 2. 

Embracing the Multiverse



The Flash has also earned its reputation by being a trailblazer in the world of comic book TV shows. No comic book adaptation on TV today has explored the idea of different timelines and different universes, except the Flash. These are concepts that are at the core of many of our favorite comic books, and with The Flash's execution of them, the possibilities for future arcs are endless. Taking on the issue of time travel and multiverses is always risky, and while they weren't always executed perfectly, these elements were a big part of what made The Flash so enjoyable. Who knows? Perhaps putting multiple universes into play will result in a DCTV and DC Cinematic multiverse?

Does the Flash have its faults? Of course - no show is perfect. But when it comes to the superhero genre, the Flash comes in pretty close. The only question that remains is: will it be able to replicate its greatness and success in the years to come? Time will only tell (unless of course you own a cosmic treadmill).
Science Fiction
Comic Book TV Shows
DC Comics
The Flash