by Deborah Harter Williams
Finding myself discouraged and fed-up with the new dramatic shows that are unrealistic and the reality shows that are overly dramatic, I’m casting my net farther afield and checking out the trend in shows based on comics.
The CW is offering up The Flash – a spin-off from Arrow
(The super-hero formerly known as Green Arrow).
Tuesday, October 7, 8 p.m.,
Grant Gustin from Glee is the geeky CSI investigator Barry Allen who turns into a superhero when struck by lightning. He awakens from his coma to find that he is “the fastest man alive.” Fortunately he already knows a guy with super powers so he can get a few pointers on how the game is played. His foster father is a cop, (Jesse L. Martin, Law & Order, SMASH) who comes in handy, and a foster sister who’s his best friend.
Flash is a more endearing champion than Arrow, who is mostly grumpy, irritable and plagued by demons and memories. But Barry, too, is haunted – by his mother’s murder and his father being falsely accused.
The recurring question for Barry is What if I’m not a hero? Dr. Wells of S.T.A.R. Labs tells him he’s not. Arrow & Co. tell him he can be.
Tom Cavanaugh (Ed,Scrubs,Trust Me) is the wheel chair bound Harrison Wells, the man behind S.T.A.R. Lab’s Particle Accelerator. Other denizens of the Lab are Dr. Caitlin Snow (aka Killer Frost) bioengineering genius, and Cisco Ramon, aka Vibe, mechanical engineering expert. Later on in the season Dominic Purcell (John Doe/Prison thing) will appear as Heat Wave.
For fun, or maybe as a bid for the nostalgia audience, the star of the 1990 Flash, John Wesley Shipp, will have a recurring role as Henry Allen, Barry’s father. Look also for Amanda Pays (Max Headroom) to reprise her role as Dr. Tina McGee.
The comic book genre lends itself nicely to some easy emotional decisions and science short cuts – expect to hear lots of talk about “the serum” without much detail. In a way it’s a relief from some of the procedural shows, which offer up detailed chemistry lessons. The main characters are frequently driven by revenge or guilt, both the good and the evil.
Not a lot of subtext.
The CW knows the audience it wants – young women. The upside is that this series goes against the usual rule for action shows in that it is populated with smart, young women. While they are impeccably coiffed and heeled, they contribute more to the plot than just looking adoringly up at the hero or having to be rescued all the time. In fact it is frequently the young men who need to be rescued after doing something reckless.
NBC Premieres Constantine
Friday, October 24 10 p.m.
More supernatural than superhero, Constantine is based on the Hellblazer series, which has been going on for 30 years and is reputed to be the third most popular DC Comic series after Superman and Batman. The world of Constantine takes place on a bigger stage with angels and demons meddling in the world’s woes.
Matt Ryan (Criminal Intent) plays demon hunter John Constantine, “who abandoned his battle against evil until events thrust him back into the fray” according to NBC. Constantine’s motivation – “to save my soul.” As the producers say “the one guy who can save us is the last one you would trust.”
Self-billed con man, “master of the dark arts,” but with a sense of sarcastic wit. Welsh actor Ryan brings acting chops and a lovely accent to what could be just another paranormal, chop-em-up. Worth checking out just for his performance. Oh yeah, and to see if the world survives.
What’s on my radar?
Kicking myself that I missed the return of Unforgettable with Poppy Montgomery as Detective Carrie Wells. Will be looking for Season 3 online.
I’ve heard mixed reviews of Scorpion. Thumbs up from those who like shows about computer geeks and thumbs down for the misuse of Katherine McPhee who gets to be “the girl” admiring the guys solving the problems.
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