Why you should be watching ''The Flash'' -- The CBS superhero drama is fast, action-packed, and clever

The Flash (CBS) has sped over to Saturday nights — this week at 10 and thereafter at 8. If you haven’t seen the show before, you really should check it out, because since its debut last fall, The Flash has shown the fastest improvement of any new show. This series, based on the DC Comics superhero who can run faster than the speed of light, has always had above-average special effects, but now it has something else: above-average stories and acting. John Wesley Shipp (as the Flash) and Amanda Pays (as the research scientist who helps keep the Flash’s metabolism under control) have become a dreamy romantic couple — their banter is both heartfelt and clever.

Better still are The Flash‘s latest villains. Reaching back to the ’60s editions of the comic book, the show recently introduced viewers to a classic Flash foe, the Trickster, a magician gone mad for crime. The Trickster was embodied by Star Wars‘ Mark Hamill, who played the role with great comic intensity and carefully avoided campiness except for one nice little Batman joke: ”To the Trickstermobile!” he yelled, hopping into a garish jalopy.

The Flash is a TV show for young people, sure, but it’s also for adults who grew up on comics and appreciate the series’ witty self-consciousness. In one episode, little kids walking down the street wore T-shirts that said, ”I Saw the Flash.” The show understands what would happen if a superhero popped up in the jaded, media-saturated ’90s: The Flash, a miracle of a crime fighter, would be co-opted as just another pop-culture fad.