26 years ago, a scarlet speedster ran onto TV screens with his first TV series, eventually dodging Bill Cosby and The Simpsons with a strange 8:30 timeslot. The show featured a handsome fellow named Barry Allen who looks a lot like Barry’s dad (and Jay Garrick) on the new show. There’s a good reason for that: Barry Allen in the 1990 Flash TV series was played by John Wesley Shipp.
This Flash didn’t have a team of Caitlin, Cisco, and company; instead, his main confidante at STAR Labs was Dr. Tina McGee, played by Amanda Pays, who played Dr. Christina McGee of Mercury Labs on the new Flash show. Iris West did show up, played by noted TV show killer Paula Marshall, but she didn’t stay long. There have been two other major nods to the original series in the new show, beyond a quick flash (pun intended) in “Welcome to Earth-2” – the Mayor of Central City, Anthony Bellows as played by Vito D’Ambrosio, was Officer Tony Bellows on the original show. And, of course, Mark Hamill played the Trickster so brilliantly on both series, with some photos from the earlier Flash appearances being seen in “Tricksters.”
We’re still waiting for Alex Desert to show up…
Another connection you might not have known: The role of the Mirror Master on the original Flash was played by David Cassidy, father of Katie Cassidy, who played “Black Siren” in “Invincible.” Angela Bassett, who later played Amanda Waller in Green Lantern, appeared on the original Flash, as did Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston.
I myself was 12 years old when The Flash first aired. Because of this, I have always viewed John Wesley Shipp with a reverence like it’s meeting one of my childhood heroes. I get the feeling the Flash producers feel the same way.
The Flash is available on DVD; it’s highly recommended. And if you have seen the episodes already, definitely check out Derek B. Gayle’s flashback reviews to the original series – they’re a great read.