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Scott D. Pierce: 'The Flash' takes the early lead over 'Gotham' in fall TV lineup

Published July 31, 2014 3:48 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Having watched all the available pilots for all the upcoming fall shows, maybe the biggest surprise for me is that, while I like "Gotham" a lot, I like "The Flash" more.

These are not full-blown reviews. Both these pilots may be tweaked before they air, so it's possible I could change my mind about one or both of them.

"Gotham" is scheduled to premiere Monday, Sept. 22, on Fox; "The Flash" is scheduled to premiere Tuesday, Oct. 7, on The CW.

Don't get me wrong. My first impression of both shows is overwhelmingly favorable.

But if somehow I was only allowed to watch more episodes of one of them, I'd pick "The Flash" at this point.

There are definitely similarities between the two.

"Gotham" begins when Bruce Wayne's (David Mazous) parents are murdered. (If that's a spoiler for you, you really need to get out more.)

In the opening moments of "The Flash," Barry Allen's (Grant Gustin) mother is killed. And his father (John Wesley Shipp) is wrongly convicted of murdering her. I kind of love that Shipp, who starred in the 1990-91 TV series "The Flash," was brought back to play the dad this time.

From there, "The Flash" heads in a much less dark, depressing direction. Oh, there are bad guys and evil to battle, but Barry is an optimistic sort who revels in his newfound powers when he's accidentally transformed into the fastest human alive. He is, in a way, reminiscent of the character of Hiro (Masi Oka) on "Heroes" — the guy who thought it was cool when everyone else was distressed at their newfound mutations.

Mind you, I'm not yet entirely sold on "The Flash." The first hour is completely an origin story, and those are clearly the easiest stories to tell. Just look at the comic-book-inspired superhero movies that keep rebooting and telling origin stories again and again.

The real test of "The Flash" will be the second, fifth, 13th and 22nd episodes.

"Gotham" gets off to a very strong start. In its look and feel, this prequel is a lot like Christopher Nolan's amazing Batman trilogy, focusing on future Commissioner Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and a variety of future supervillains.

My reservation about "Gotham" is that it's a prequel, so we know what will happen. So it's supposed to be a highly dramatic scene in the pilot when Gordon and one of the future supervillains seem to be in mortal danger … but we know neither one is going to die.

And it says something about "Gotham" that the most memorable character in that pilot is one of the villains.

But "Gotham" and "The Flash" are good. Could be really good. Could be great.

I'm optimistic about both.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.