Sunday, March 22, 2015

TV: The failures of The Flash

Tom Welling looked like a trick -- like a trick with long legs career wise.  By contrast, Grant Gustin looks like a trick who needs his current john to put him through beautician school so he'll have another trade before the looks fade -- and they will fade.


Grant Gustin is ten pounds away from ugly and two years away from tired.

If you're not getting how plain and ugly he's going to be, take a look at the actor playing his mentor Dr. Harrison Wells.  In 2000, starring in Ed, Tom Cavanagh set a few hearts aflutter.  Those days ended quickly.  He now looks like an over-used trick who's had all the pretty pounded out of him.

That's what awaits Gustin.

And that's only one of the problems with The CW's Arrow spin-off.

The Flash's ratings are all over the map -- not unlike the show.

One episode pulls in 4 million viewers, the next 3 million, then a bit later another 4 million, then 3 million.

The high marks testify to fans of the comic book hero The Flash wanting to like the show.

The low marks testify to how much the series sucks.

As we noted, Barry Alen (Grant Gustin) has a mentor/nemesis in Wells.  Wells came from the future to kill Barry but killed Barry's mother instead and is now trapped in the present time.  He is training Barry to increase Barry's powers so that he can use them to return to his own time.

While a nemesis is needed, a team to train really is not.

Is this the story of a superhero or Greb Berlanti's strange fixation with the Susan Anton sci fi film Golden Girl?

Is Barry a superhero or not?

If he is, why does he need training and a team to support him?

It reduces him and infantilizes him.

This when the character is already played by a 25-year-old.

The superhero is the 20th century's replacement for the cowboy (or cowgirl).

It's the lone character -- the Batman, the Spider-Man, etc -- who stands for good and fights evil.

They may assemble a team -- as happened on Arrow -- but they do that after they hone their own powers.

Instead, Barry's got advisors and trainers and is less like a superhero and more like a superstar working the red carpet and in need of a team of stylists.

It weakens The Flash, it makes him seem even less than he is.

At the heart of the frustration viewers have had with the show is this detail.

They want to root for The Flash, they want to cheer him on but he's less a superhero and more of a new employee forever in need of further training and education.

Further weakening the character is his love for Iris West (Candice Patton) who is dating police officer Eddie (Rick Cosnett).

At every plot point, Barry Allen is revealed to be a weakling.

And if Barry Allen was 15-years-old, the audience might embrace that.

But when he's supposed to be a grown up, when he's an assistant crime scene investigator for the police, he just comes off really weak and really pathetic.

Smallville was not a great show.  But it spanned The WB and The CW lasting for ten seasons.

That was largely due to the strength and charisma Tom Welling was able to project.

It also helped that Welling looked like a hero, with those cheekbones and that facial shape that allowed Welling to become a successful model long before he moved on to acting.

Gustin has none of that.  He's really not able to project a fully-dimensional character.  He's miscast and there's no overcoming that.

The audience senses the miscasting and that's why the ratings teeter-totter from episode to episode.  If season one has been a struggle (and it has been), wait for the nightmares of season two.

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