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The Flash has just finished it’s first season to a lot of acclaim and a lot of general fan enthusiasm. That’s great, I love it when a show can get fans incredibly jazzed about the topic. The problem is that, as major Flash fan myself, I found some striking issues with the show. Now, this is not to change anyone’s mind or to step on anyone’s opinion. This is just my own, and maybe to play devil’s advocate. If you feel the need to refute, comment below or hit me up on twitter. SPOILERS below.
One of the best things about The Flash mythos are the villains. He has one of the most under appreciated villain set in all of DC Comics. They’re gimmicky as hell, ranging from the wonders of Mirror Master to the terrors of Dr. Alchemy. Both of which you pretty much understand off the bat right? Now one of the things that show does try, but kind of ultimately falters in, is translating these villains into the screen as engagingly entertaining foes. They’re more often than not just fodder for the cast to surround for an episode superficially while really worrying about something else.
It’s not a quality that really sells the villain as a threat, but more diminishes their impact on screen because they’re not even the “A-plot” in the minds of the characters. A good example would be Rainbow Raider – who is really just a plot device and doesn’t get any real development on his own. He’s just a name and a power set. Yet, not even the power set, he only uses “Red” when there are multiple opportunities for the others to work thematically, not really a rainbow. The others that fall into this category would be a lot to list, the notable exceptions being The Trickster, Everyman, Grodd, and Weather Wizard.
You might call it an extension of the previous one, and in a way you might be right. In essence, however, it’s pretty distinct. When it comes to Flash villains The Rogues are pretty much the fan favorite. The roster shifts from time to time but there’s something about the group that really speaks to people. It’s that they’re the underdogs, they’re the blue collar crooks. They’re the villains that no one takes notice of, because they don’t have big plans. They just want to rob banks, and they do it against the most powerful hero imaginable.
The show goes a different way, and I don’t mind it when things go in new directions, but it’s compounded by the show pretty much making The Rogues a big deal at the start. They’re making big waves, they’re already forming out of nowhere, and they know the Flash’s identity. It’s all too much too fast, there should have been more of a game set down. Make them scruffier – because at this rate they’ll get tiresome. They have already become so to me (and making everything the once complex Heatwave says into a heat pun isn’t helping).
A smaller, yet at the same time, more substantial, issue with this first season was with balancing dramatic beats with actually moving forward the plot. Of course, this is a problem with a lot of shows regardless of genre or network, but as a long time CW viewer I have come to associate it with the network – due to other shows that had similar problems such as Smallville and Arrow. It’s not only dramatic beats though, comics are full of dramatic beats and it’s all par for the course, it’s melodramatic beats. What was the purpose of not telling Iris for so long?
What was the purpose of Joe not giving Eddie his blessing? But still somehow advocating, or at least not dissuading, Barry in his emotions? What was the purpose of bringing in a love triangle in the first place? More on that last one later, but overall these beats and more took up time and space in a show that could have used a more leaner, tightly plotted, model. This is something that did get better by the end, noticeably so, and something I hope the second season really learns from.
I’m going to preface this right now by saying that I love Iris and Barry in the comics. They are a fantastic couple and have had multiple great moments littered throughout the DC Universe since their creation. That said, I hope they never bring them together as a couple in the show. The show has completely lost its opportunity at making it a likable prospect and the one thing I can point to being the problem starter is the love triangle. It puts Iris, Eddie, and Barry into a situation that really bad rom-coms like Sleepless in Seattle get into where they expect us to root for one character’s happiness over the other’s, for no real reason.
The core of it is that Barry is set too hard into a generic rom-com role. that being the role of the romance stealer – where most of his scenes with Iris are laden with forced drama and him trying to wheedle away at her relationship with Eddie. His solo scenes are even centered about whining or obsessing over her, yet we never, on-screen, see any reason why he feels this way. It’s too obscured by the drama, and makes him come off as unsympathetic, especially compared to Eddie who is constantly having to work at his relationship. Making him the sympathetic underdog, and one that I found myself rooting for, until the end and even beyond.
Well, that’s it – I would have made it a classic 5 if I could find a fifth thing, but that would have strayed into nitpicking and sunk whatever points I was trying to make. Again, I would like to say that I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, or trying to step on anyone. Just trying to explain how I, as a major Flash fan, ended up not liking the show that much. If anything, iZombie is the true breakaway hit of the CW. Comments below or on my twitter @the_snickman would be appreciated.