1 9 9 0 (UK)
22 x 60 minute episodes
Barry Allen (John Wesley Shipp), a chemist for the Central City Police Department, is working in the lab when a bolt of lightning from a fierce electrical storm strikes a shelf of chemicals.
Barry is doused with various highly volatile chemicals and taken to Central City Hospital. Tests are done, and the data is sent to STAR Labs, a government research unit where widowed scientist Tina McGee (Amanda Pays, formerly of Max Headroom) becomes intrigued by the results.
Barry learns from Tina that all his systems have been accelerated and that his muscle and bone tissue is changing to keep pace. Further tests reveal that Barry is capable of fantastic speeds (Tina estimates that he is capable of speeds up to 620 mph and of causing sonic booms).
However, because of the fantastic amount of energy he uses, Barry needs to consume enormous amounts of food to sustain himself.
When his policeman brother is killed, Barry decides to use his power of speed to battle evil. Tina – who fears the government will want to study Barry – decides to keep his secret and help him.
To control and regulate Barry’s body temperature, Tina adapts a prototype Soviet-made red deep sea suit as a costume for him. She builds sensors into the suit (to monitor him as she follows him in a STAR Labs truck), makes a red hood (to conceal his identity), gloves (so he can’t leave fingerprints) and a symbol: a bolt of lightning (so villains will have something to fear).
Stories relate Barry’s efforts to battle crime as ‘The Flash’.
The only other people who know the Flash’s true identity are private detective Megan Lockhart (Joyce Hyser), who uncovered his identity and promised to keep it a secret; Reggie (Robert Shayne), a blind newsstand operator who recognised Barry’s voice as that of the Flash; and Desmond Powell (Jason Bernard), a doctor at Central City Hospital.
Desmond had been Central City’s first masked crime fighter back in 1955. Known as the Night Shade, he rode in a black car, wore a black costume and used “tranq bullets” (tranquilliser darts) as his weapon. Because of his age, he had to retire from his work as Night Shade and is now chief of staff at the hospital.
Barry’s family include his ex-cop father, Henry (M. Emmet Walsh), his mother, Eve (Patrie Allen), brother Jay (Tim Thomerson) and nephew Shawn (Justin Burnette). Also appearing was Tina’s mother, Jocelyn Weller (Carolyn Seymour).
The look of The Flash was a mixture of vintage styles and the 1990s, completely omitting the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The wardrobe combined long coats and fedoras from the 1930s with contemporary clothes. The vehicles were from the 40s, 40s, 50s and 90s.
The series was very expensive to make, with the pilot costing $6.5 million and each episode costing $1.4 million to produce. It was a pricey gamble for CBS and ultimately only lasted one season, but its legacy lives on, and it remains an important part of superhero TV history.
The Flash costume was one of the most impressive live-action superhero costumes that had ever been realised on the screen. The primary reds and yellows of the comic book were replaced by a striking crimson and gold, with built-in muscles that gave the character an unmistakable silhouette.
Constructed in 30 pieces, the body appliance took half an hour to put on and was so hot to wear that it had its own cooling system.
The impression of super speed came from an unusual smear effect which required a long exposure of the main scene and a second film in which Shipp recreated his movements exactly in front of a blue screen. The two images were then combined on digital videotape to give the appearance that he was moving at 600 mph while everyone else was moving at normal speed.
The theme song was composed by Danny Elfman, formerly of Oingo Boingo.
Barry Allen/The Flash
John Wesley Shipp
Dr Desmond Powell
Officer Tony Bellows
Officer Michael Murphy
Lt. Warren Garfield