Full disclosure: when The Flash was announced as an Arrow spinoff, I figured I’d do a courtesy watch, pat it on the head, and move on. Then Jesse L. Martin was cast (dammit). I was hard-core about Law & Order mothership.Â I still miss Jerry Orbach. Martin appeared in 198 episodes, most of them alongside Orbach. I loved their chemistry. Martin was stepping into a seminal role when he succeeded Benjamin Bratt as Orbach’s partner, and then he went on to do twice as many episodes.
Bratt popped up in 24: Live Another Day this summer, but Martin has been harder to come by (I never picked up Smash). With Martin on board, I was in. And then I watched the premiere and was surprised and impressed by its heart (director David Nutter continues his winning pilot streak) and how good everyone in the cast is. Bang up job there to TPTB. So I’m spreading the love to all the fellas because they’re just that great. All due love and respect to the ladies (Danielle Panabaker and Candice Patton), too. Here’s why the boys are my Fall TV Crush.
Jesse L. MartinÂ as Joe West
Joe is Barry’s pseudo-dad. He raised Barry alongside his daughter, Iris, after Barry’s father was wrongfully imprisoned for his mother’s death. We’ve only seen glimpses of Barry’s life before the accident, but in the aftermath, it’s apparent that the lack of a blood tie between Barry and Joe has absolutely no bearing on the ends to which they will go to protect each other.
Martin is terrific, especially in the quiet emotional moments, like the one Kara highlighted last week. And we had another one tonight. I love that the writers are writing to Martin’s strengths in playing a range of emotion. Similar to the way Quentin is written on Arrow, the cop dad character is not at all one-note. What was immediately, and poignantly, clear to me when I was watching the pilot is just how much I have missed him. I am so glad Martin is on my TV again, and I hope he loves the job, because The Flash is going to be on a while.
Grant GustinÂ as Barry Allen
It’s a common truth that TV shows live and die by the first guy on the call sheet–he sets the bar for the way the show goes. He’s the captain. Stephen Amell is the gold standard, so Gustin has big shoes to fill. Just in the first three episodes, he’s broken my heart a handful of times. He’s immensely watchable playing someone struggling with new truths about himself, his dad, and Iris, and the realization that life went on for a little while as he slept, so he’s in hyper catch-up mode.
In tonight’s episode, he stopped long enough to help Caitlin, save Joe, hide his identity from dad, and then go back and quietly reminisce with him about his mom. He’s funny, charming, sensitive, and serious. Again, glad TPTB are writing to highlight what their cast can deliver on.
Tom CavanaghÂ as Harrison Wells
Who knew Cavanagh could bring the Mwa Ha Ha? I love that somebody saw that he could be wickedly devious. He tapped that vein in a Lifetime movie a couple of years back as a very bad dad, but here he gets to be nuanced as someone who’s a good guy on the face of it, but also running a deep, long agenda that I’m guessing will take years to unravel. He also looks like he’s just on the edge of giddy, which I love. I want outtakes of him just breaking into a massive grin. I’m sure they exist.
Rick CosnettÂ as Eddie Vawne
Cosnett is new to me because I’d checked out of TVD last season when he arrived (the CW farm team is alive and well). I like that he turns the pretty boy “detective handsome” thing on its ear by being a genuinely good guy (I hope; it’s early days) who likes Iris for Iris and is sort of terrified now that Joe knows. And he’s not a jackass to Barry, making it harder for Barry to begrudge his happiness with Iris. I look forward to Joe busting his chops going forward.
Carlos ValdesÂ as Cisco Ramon
Newcomer Valdes is making his TV series debut here, and it was cool tonight to see him reveal that Cisco’s humor masks a secret he’s held onto since the night of the explosion–that he locked Ronnie in because Ronnie told him to. And when he tries to tell Caitlin, she stops him, so that’s still going to come out at some point. Aside from him being the comedic relief, it’s great to see him just completely nerd out about the science of it all. The last thing he ever expected was to be ground control for a super hero, so he’s just running with it (pun intended).
John Wesley Shipp as Henry Allen
One of the funny, ha ha, wink, nudge aspects of the show is casting Shipp as Barry’s dad when he played Barry 24 years ago in the previous series stab at The Flash. It’s intriguing to watch him now, as the wounded father and widower who’s spent 14 years locked up, and likely knows more about Barry than Barry does.
As with Martin and Gustin, Shipp’s scenes with Gustin have been super emotional. It takes a lot for two actors to generate so much heart when they’re essentially each holding a phone and talking to each other through plate-glass. And then we saw Shipp and Martin be so good tonight as well. I’m not at all versed on the comics, so I don’t know what Henry’s future is, but I hope Shipp sticks around.
It’s also worth mentioning that Robbie Amell, from last season’s The Tomorrow People, showed up tonight in flashbacks as Caitlin’s fiance, and SPOILER ALERT, he’ll be back. The Amell CW Takeover continues.
Those are just a few reasons I’ve blown right past patting this show on the head and it’s now appointment TV.Â The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on the CW.
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