Part one of The CW's superhero crossover event was a huge success that Warner Bros. and DC should study closely.
NOTE: Next week, I'll be writing up a The Flash primer for those of you who want to know more about it. This review will assume the reader is familiar with the show.
When I reviewed The Flash Pilot last summer after its Comic-Con debut, I derisively called it "Dumber than a speeding bullet." I wasn't entirely against the show - I enjoyed the lore porn and I thought the cast was great - but I feared it would be a dumb, rushed mess that dragged out weak plot elements, instead of focusing on real worldbuilding, fun story and engaging characters. More, I worried Barry Allen would be a nice guy/friendzoned creep, and that the show would basically spend time making that quality sympathetic instead of just pathetic. Mainly, it just seemed like a generic superhero show of the sort that I believed its parent series, Arrow was.
I TAKE IT ALL BACK.
I've been watching The Flash religiously since its official premiere in October, and I've loved it with increasing fervor each episode. It's a stunning show that ably demonstrates that being fervently optimistic and, for lack of a better word, positively wholesome, does not have to mean it lacks punch. Replete with DC Lore and yet not beholden to it, it has the kind of cohesive group dynamic that made the best of Joss Whedon's television series so much fun to watch, and it thrives on consistently-written, fun characters and fully embraced cheese, with just enough pathos to ground it without dragging it down.
But it wasn't until two weeks before "Flash vs. Arrow", the first of what I hope will be many crossovers between the two shows, that I decided to revisit Arrow and give it a real shake. Having shotgunned the entire series, I can report that I really suck for having dismissed Arrow early on during its first season. It's not just a grimdark and yet campy crapfest, it's a glimpse of rare schlock brilliance that somehow takes everything I hate about Frank Miller's influence on comics (both Batman and Daredevil) and makes it fun. Yes, fun.
Charming, replete with real (if dumb*) character development, and built around the idea that the loner hero whose damaged psyche sets him apart is kind of an asshole who needs to change, Arrow turns out to be a blast too. So it is that with the crossover between the two shows, the best qualities of each were brought out excellently.
Read Marla Desat's review of Arrow's "The Brave and the Bold" for how things went back on Arrow, and read on for a recap of events on The Flash.