**This is an informal paper I wrote for my current Mass Media Programming class. We were supposed to write about one of our favorite recent shows. All shows mentioned are the property of their creators/producers and all credit for their creation goes to them.
I’m a geek, and my taste in television tends to reflect that. As a kid I grew up on Star Trek in its various incarnations and loving movies like Enemy Mine with Dennis Quaid or Christopher Reeve in that not-so-inconspicuous set of blue tights. With all of the geeky viewing options available today such as Game of Thrones, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Netflix’s Daredevil, it’s difficult to choose a favorite. Science fiction and fantasy series are everywhere you look in popular TV. But, after a great deal of thought, I finally settled on The Flash.
According to TVSeriesFinale.com (http://tvseriesfinale.com/tv-show/the-flash-season-one-ratings-34271/) the show has good ratings amongst 18-49 year olds. I’m not entirely certain the old demographics systems and categories work so well any more though. First off, that age range spans quite a bit of variety in a person’s life – nearly thirty years. A great deal changes during that much time, but the subcultures we tend to place ourselves in remain fairly constant. Jocks tend to continue to be football fans. Some folks only watch serious TV dramas like CSI Miami before they settle into a good episode of 20/20.
At any rate, the show appeals to a broad variety of viewers. My 13 year old son watches it, as does my 43 year old fiancé, and my 47 year old, gay friend. It’s one of the few shows my 54 year old director at work watches. But why? What’s so great about it?
The show, quite simply, is relatable for most people. The star, Grant Gustin, plays Barry Allen/The Flash in a way that shows a youthful sense of humor while at the same time giving the character depth and relatability. When he smiles, the audience smiles. When he saves the day, everyone is behind him. On the flip side, the series villain, Reverse Flash/Eobard Thawne/Harrison Wells is a bad guy that’s easy to love. The character is a double agent from the future (this is a comic book adaptation after all) and he plays the part of Barry Allen’s mentor through much of the first season. The quality cast shows throughout, as does the writing, much of which is done by the production team, which is also a big part of the Arrow television series production team. To see the cast in action and get a preview of the show, please visit the following link:
The show presents several “Easter eggs” throughout the first season. Most prominently are the returns of several actors from the 1990 television series of the same name, which ran on CBS. John Wesley Shipp, who played Barry Allen in the old series, now plays Henry Allen, Barry’s father, who has been wrongly imprisoned for murdering his wife, Barry’s mother. Even the old villain, The Trickster/James Jesse, played by Mark Hamill in both series comes back to the show as a guest star in an episode entitled, “The Tricksters.” Several original props also appear in that episode. So, for long time Flash fans, the show is a treasure trove of nostalgia and familiar faces.
The executive producers for the show are Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, David Nutter and Sarah Schechter. The producers for the show are JP Finn and Glen Winter. Nutter is best known as a producer for TV pilots and has worked on several well-known projects. Current projects include Arrow, The Flash and the upcoming Supergirl TV series. Winter is known for the old Superman spinoff, Smallville, Arrow, and his most recent project is The Flash. The majority of the production team has experience with similar, geeky television properties.
Most people I know usually watch the show live or on DVR on The CW network. The CW pays for their shows through advertising, which I admit I generally skip via the DVR. However, it’s interesting to note that the episodes I have had to watch online via the CW website due to DVR errors have commercials in them that can’t be skipped. Sponsors for the show have included Subaru and AT&T. The series is not yet available for streaming on Netflix. It is available on Amazon Instant Video, but is not part of the Amazon Prime catalogue, which allows free viewing, so anyone watching it on that service has to pay a few dollars for each episode. Hulu offers the show on its streaming site with no additional charges, and viewers subscription fees go to pay for views through that service.
The show also acts as a source of income to its owners by means of branding. The Flash TV show is itself a spinoff of Arrow and now two spinoffs are being generated from the popularity of both shows. Vixen is a series being produced for CW’s online streaming channel, CW Seed. A series called Legends of Tomorrow which features several minor characters from The Flash is also in the works. Add to that a digital comic version of the TV show, available to DC Comics subscribers and enough merchandising to line the pockets of even the greediest supervillain and the show has really banked its profitability for the producers and others with a financial interest in its success.
Really though, it’s simply a great show with a brighter tone than much of what is offered in today’s world of nothing-but-the-grittiest-fiction on TV. It’s certainly a great deal more family friendly than Game of Thrones or Daredevil.