Official Description: Barry Allen was just 11 years old when his mother was killed in a bizarre and terrifying incident and his father was falsely convicted of the murder. With his life changed forever by the tragedy, Barry was taken in and raised by Detective Joe West, the father of Barry’s best friend, Iris. Now, Barry has become a brilliant, driven and endearingly geeky CSI investigator, whose determination to uncover the truth about his mother’s strange death leads him to follow up on every unexplained urban legend and scientific advancement that comes along. Barry’s latest obsession is a cutting edge particle accelerator, created by visionary physicist Harrison Wells and his S.T.A.R. Labs team, who claim that this invention will bring about unimaginable advancements in power and medicine. However, something goes horribly wrong during the public unveiling, and when the devastating explosion causes a freak storm, many lives are lost and Barry is struck by lightning. After nine months in a coma, Barry awakens to find his life has changed once again – the accident has given him the power of super speed, granting him the ability to move through Central City like an unseen guardian angel. Though initially excited by his newfound powers, Barry is shocked to discover he is not the only “meta-human” who was created in the wake of the accelerator explosion – and not everyone is using their new powers for good. In the months since the accident, the city has seen a sharp increase in missing people, unexplained deaths and other strange phenomena. Barry now has a renewed purpose – using his gift of speed to protect the innocent, while never giving up on his quest to solve his mother’s murder and clear his father’s name. For now, only a few close friends and associates know that Barry is literally the fastest man alive, but it won’t be long before the world learns what Barry Allen has become…The Flash.
Does television always need a point?
I mean, can it just be “art for art’s sake” and you just watch the events unfold and invest in the world set before you without questioning the bigger motive or the grand plan? Does there need to be a pervasive message attached or is television still of value when it all it is is a story about pain and loss and fear and hopelessness? That’s the question many are asking of The Leftovers right now. It doesn’t seem to be a show leading to a happy ending or a comfortable resolution, but rather a series committed to staggering through the bleakest parts of humanity and exploring them with unflinching commitment.
This week’s episode simply entitled “Gladys” began by showing the GR member of the same name being stoned to death by a group of unknown hooded figures. There was nothing ambiguous about the scene and it ended up being one of the most brutal two minutes in television history, by my estimation. I can see violence on TV and know it’s fake and deal with it, but I was actually sick to my stomach watching this unfold, grimacing with each blow as this older lady became bloodied and disfigured before my eyes.
As I’ve been saying throughout the season, I enjoy when True Blood slows down and is a little more focused on one central story instead of a million stupid stories stealing the spotlight (not that we didn’t have a little of that too….). So I enjoyed “Karma” for the most part, even if it wasn’t necessarily a tremendous episode or anything. To kind of streamline things a bit, I’m gonna just offer a quick rundown of some of my thoughts of this week’s episode:
I must admit, I’m not a history buff. I don’t read books about history for fun, I don’t watch the History channel and there are a lot of events of historical significance that I haven’t thought much about since high school history class. It could certainly be defined as a flaw that I care more about keeping up with television than I do with immersing myself in real world history, but that’s what period pieces are for, right? Always accurate depictions of eras and events without ever having to crack open another text book. Sounds like a good deal.
Now don’t worry, I’m only kidding about believing that TV portrayals of historical events are always accurate but my point is that I’m approaching Manhattan with only a passing interest and knowledge of the subject of the Manhattan Project. I know the high points but I’m not exactly going over this show with the fine-toothed comb others might. Of course, Manhattan has a fair amount of wiggle room because it follows a group of fictional characters and the showrunners have already made it clear they don’t tend to rewrite history much by having their characters become responsible for major discoveries.
Before I really start, I feel I should preface this whole thing by acknowledging a couple key points.
1) The Following is not a good show. I don’t loathe it as much as most critics, but that’s mostly because I don’t blame it for all the ills of society. I do, however, find it to be incredibly tedious and hollow, relying almost solely on shock value to push its narrative forward. There are some elements I thought worked in season one and I was briefly encouraged at the beginning of season two that The Following would figure out how to be the pulpy, twisted guilty pleasure it strived to be, but it turned into an embarrassing bore even faster than it did last year.
2) I really enjoy reading a number of different TV critics and believe that many of them are incredibly skilled at what they do and I aspire to reach their level at some point. They have inspired me to do what I’m doing on this site and I know I’m a new kid on the block tossing pebbles at some giants when I criticize their work, but perhaps my perspective as a genuine outsider (at least for now) allows me to critique some trends a little more honestly than some of them may be able to.
There’s no question that television plays a pertinent role in our society and so I have no problem with TV critics taking their role seriously. Their job is not just to say whether a show is good or not but to weigh in on the social implications of a series and praise or condemn a show based on the messages that lie within. There are some shows with very harmful worldviews that aren’t good for the culture and then there are trends within the industry as a whole that deserve to be brought to the light. Sometimes I don’t agree with the approach a critic takes (such as Emily Nussbaum’s decision to label True Detective as sexist even though the real issue is the industry a whole’s tendency to under represent women in significant roles) but I can understand where they’re coming from. Often times, though, I agree with and applaud the assessment that the community makes regarding problematic developments (such as the poorly handled Game of Thrones rape scene from earlier this season).