Barry was 11 when his mother was killed in a bizarre incident – it involved what appear to be light waves and possibly a super-speed murderer – and Barry’s father (John Wesley Shipp, who played The Flash in a short-lived 1990 CBS series) was blamed for her death.
After his father went to prison, Barry grew up in the home of police detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin, “Law & Order”) alongside West’s daughter, Iris (Candice Patton), whom Barry now has a crush on.
Barry’s also a fan of physics to a perhaps unlikely degree. He geeks out over the prospect of a particle accelerator test at S.T.A.R. Labs. But when the machine malfunctions, Barry gets electrocuted by lightning and goes into a coma for nine months.
When he wakes, Barry finds he’s the fastest man alive and he’s in the care of S.T.A.R. Labs star physicist Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh, “Ed”). Barry quickly leaves the lab to reunite with his work colleagues but not before asking Wells if he can keep the S.T.A.R. Labs sweatshirt he’s wearing. It’s a small moment but one that’s telling about Barry’s character and it makes him so incredibly likable.
Credit for that goes to both the script – by series executive producers Greg Berlanti (“Arrow,” “Everwood”), Andrew Kreisberg (“Arrow,” “Eli Stone”) and Geoff Johns (“Arrow,” “Smallville”) – and to Mr. Gustin, who makes Barry someone viewers will want to cheer for. It’s not just that he’s awkward and geeky but also that he’s hopeful despite a tormented past and just so gosh darn nice.
Mr. Gustin previously played an evil choir student on “Glee” but he sheds that image for this new role.
Viewers bored with superhero shows might not take to “The Flash” regardless. It’s not a revolutionary show but at a certain level it is a step away from the angst and a return to the positive, uplifting feelings evoked by the 1978 Christopher Reeve “Superman” movie.