Following the continued critical and commercial success of CW's Arrow, not to mention the ten full seasons of Smallville that came before, it was no surprise to see the network expand its superhero offerings with the announcement of a Flash TV series. While skeptics feared the show could hurt The Flash brand, right as DC Entertainment is trying to get a shared Justice League movie universe off the ground, a likable turn from Grant Gustin as Barry Allen in two episodes of Arrow won over a lot of potential viewers.
While the two episodes ("Three Ghosts" and "The Scientist") served as backdoor pilot for The Flash, successfully establishing Gustin's Barry as well as his friendship with Oliver Queen, the shows were located on Arrow's home turf, Starling City, meaning they did not introduce many of the characters and relationships that viewers will actually see when The Flash debuts. The recent Arrow episode, "The Man Under the Hood," helped establish two of Allen's future S.T.A.R. Labs cohorts Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) and Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) but other series regulars will have to wait until fall 2014 for their introduction.
In the meantime, we have new details on one especially notable cast member - original 1990s Flash TV star John Wesley Shipp. Nearly 25 years after Shipp played Barry Allen on CBS, fighting evildoers The Trickster, Prank, and Mirror Master, among others, the actor was cast in an unspecified role for the new Flash series. While many assumed that Shipp would portray Barry's father, Henry Allen (especially after he was shown in a family photo during the extended Flash TV trailer), other DC fan boys and girls had hoped the actor might play older Flash iteration, Jay Garrick.
Now producer Greg Berlanti has confirmed which role Shipp will play in the new series - along with comments suggesting the actor is still on track to be a recurring presence (instead of just a pilot cameo). Check out the quote below (thanks to EW):
“Given his history with The Flash, [executive producers] Andrew [Kreisberg], Geoff [Johns] and I could only think of one person we wanted to play Barry’s father and that was John Wesley Shipp. He gives a fantastic and emotional performance in the pilot and we are looking forward to his presence in many more episodes.”
Of course, this won't be the first time that Shipp has doled out fatherly advice on the WB/CW, the actor previously portrayed Mitch Leery for five seasons on Dawson's Creek. That said, The Flash will see Shipp, via Henry Allen, in significantly difference circumstances. After his wife, and Barry's mother, Nora (Michelle Harrison), is murdered under suspicious circumstances, Henry is blamed for her death and sentenced to prison time.
Nevertheless, even though Shipp is a simple family man in the pilot, CW/DC Comics shows are known for taking normal people and imbuing them with superhuman abilities (for better or worse). The Flash trailer directly asserts that unknown energies (anti-matter, dark energy, and X elements) were unleashed through a ruptured dimensional barrier, creating a wave of new metahumans (such as potential Weather Wizard, Clyde Mardon), so there's still a possibility that Shipp could become a super-powered hero (or even villain) down the line.
The future of the Henry Allen character will depend heavily on how long The Flash showrunners intend to draw out the mystery behind Nora Allen's death (though longtime comic fans already have an idea of the answer). For the time being, we expect Henry to be a sympathetic victim of unexplainable circumstances - a character that the audience will want to see vindicated. Whether that arc is limited to season 1, allowing Henry more freedom in season 2, remains to be seen but either way it's encouraging to hear Berlanti speak highly about the fan-favorite actor's "emotional" performance.
After all, while it might be fun to bring back original actors for modern reboots, sometimes even the best of intentions can become a detriment to the quality of a new project. Thankfully, Shipp is more than just a familiar face, he's a talented actor - one that sounds as though he'll be instrumental in developing this generation's live-action Barry Allen (at least on the small screen).
The Flash will air on Tuesdays @8pm in fall 2014 on The CW.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for any future updates on The Flash, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.
Source: Entertainment Weekly