The Flash is an American television series developed by writer/producers 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.
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, which was modeled after the comic books. 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 received generally positive reviews from critics, and won the People's Choice Award for "Favorite New TV Drama" in 2014. On January 11, 2015, The CW renewed The Flash for a second season.
After witnessing his mother's supernatural murder and his father's wrongful conviction for the crime, Barry Allen is taken in by Detective Joe West 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 and creating 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, 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 criminals. He is aided by a few close friends and associates who guard his secrets.
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 will 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 episodes were ordered in September 2014 following a positive response to newly completed episodes by executives, while seven more were confirmed the next month for a full 23-episode season.
Critical Reception & Ratings:
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 96% approval rating with an average rating of 7.4/10 based on 55 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.
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 February 2015, 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 The Flash and Arrow, including Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller), Dr. Martin Stein (Victor Garber), Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) and Ray Palmer (Routh).
Caity Lotz, who portrayed Sara Lance / Canary on Arrow, would also be featured in an unspecified role. There is potential for other Arrow and The Flash characters to cross over to the new series. In March 2015, Amell confirmed the series would air in the 2015–16 midseason. Berlanti also stated there was a particular reason that the other half of Firestorm, Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell), was not mentioned in the initial cast announcement. Blake Neely will once again serve as composer for the series.