The CW's new fall shows: A snap judgment
The CW apparently likes what The CW does, because TV’s YA fantasy aisle isn’t making radical changes to its fall lineup. Just two new shows and a scheduling shift, with The Originals moving to Mondays. But count me among those bummed that The Tomorrow People became a thing of the past too soon: I admired the perspective and the storytelling of the network’s take on super-powered outsiders, especially in its early going. That said, I like the looks of the superhero saga that aspires to fill the void…
Grant Gustin made a winning impression during his long-lead into in an Arrow two-parter last fall, and from the looks of the extended trailer, the actor looks plenty capable of holding the center of his own, much-anticipated showcase. Where the emerald archer is more of a dark knight vigilante with an aesthetic to match, The Flash is more of a Peter Parker/Spider-Man type — geeky guy with quirks and humor despite a tragic past, transformed by weird science into a masked marvel (sorry: “meta-human” in the Flash parlance) who experiences his newfound power as more of a kick than a curse, his do-gooding an enjoyable responsibility instead of a burdensome one. The Flash is a clearly a lighter, brighter, but no less mythic and serious bit of business than the forthcoming season’s other heavily hyped comic book world extrapolations, Fox’s no-Batman Batman prequel Gotham and NBC’s Constantine. It’ll be interesting to see which tonality audiences prefer.
Everything about the trailer suggests a show that should work well enough for The CW and for fans of the genre — mostly because it seems to contain strategies and elements of other, successful shows, including civilian sidekicks with specialized skill sets, father-figure mentors, and a dead parent whose mysterious murder not only gives the hero a mythology-puzzle to unpack and solve when he’s not bringing freaks of the week like The Weather Wizard to justice. (Will the series be able to sustain those impressive special effects? I hope so.) In fact, my biggest disappointment with the trailer is that it suggests a show that will adhere too much to the by-now cliché franchise formulizations of superhero properties. (I’m hoping The CW’s take on DC’s iZombie from Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas — set for midseason next year — will be a bit more unconventional.) Still, The Flash comes to us from the same producers that have made Arrow one of the best superhero adaptations going, if not the best. In them, I trust.
By the way, I already have a theory about who killed Barry’s mom: It was Barry himself! Using his superpowers to travel back in time to save her — but he killed her by accident instead! (So much for that lighter tone…)
JANE THE VIRGIN
Gina Rodriguez plays Jane, who plans to never have sex before marriage, either because she’s been raised to fear sex or because her Latina family is very traditional, very religious; the trailer does not make this clear. But then she gets accidentally impregnated via artificial insemination — it’s based on a Venezuelan telenovela, à la Ugly Betty; these things happen — and chooses to keep the baby, for reasons that again the trailer keeps from us. The trailer is only 30-something seconds long — not enough for me to snap judge. But I’m provoked. And kudos to The CW for diversifying its very white complexion.