Apr. 28th, 2015

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My husband met an old friend from high school last week in the small Mississippi town where they'd grown up 32 years ago . They chatted about their classmates from the white, middle class private school they had attended. Slightly less than half of the men had graduated from college and gone on to get jobs in business, teaching, and civil engineering. Slightly more than half of the men had not gone on to graduate from college. They were all dead, mostly from drugs or suicide. 10% of all the men in their class had committed suicide in the last five years. His friend noted that more men had died from their class than had died so far from his parents' class -- and his parents had graduated at the height of the Vietnam War. While the women had done slightly better, there had been fewer children born to the members of their class than had been in their class. It was a sobering experience.

I think we might have a problem, folks.
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It's spring 2015, which marks the 10th anniversary of the new Doctor Who and more importantly for parents, the 10th anniversary of the return of new, good family-friendly programming to our screens after a very long absence.  The fact that I can still count all the currently-running live action shows that fit that description on the fingers of one hand is a pain, but it's a big improvement over the way things used to be.  A recent entry to that list is the 2014 version of The Flash.  We're up to episode 8, and my family adores it.  We're trying to watch the other episodes this week to get caught up.

The Flash brings a lot of good stuff to the table and lays it out in a very pleasing arrangement.  First off is the source material.  I was delighted to learn that this show isn't just about the Flash.  It draws from the late '80s Flash, Firestorm, and Captain Atom comics, with just a hint of Suicide Squad thrown in for flavor.  These were some of the best super-hero comic books ever, not cutting-edge but right behind it, with a level of polish and self-confidence to their work that has seldom been matched.  They're in a completely different class from the dog's breakfast that DC is putting out now, about which -- no, I won't say, "the less said the better".  Textbooks need to be written about what DC is doing now, and taught from in classes on "How to Screw Up Your Franchise:  Don't Try This at Home".

As for the TV presentation, it's nice to see that WB/CW has put their 18 years experience at making superhero TV shows to good use and removed most of the problems that plagued past attempts.  It's even nicer to see that they're finally putting their expertise into a family-friendly show.  Keep that up and we may rear another generation of fans in spite of DC Comics.

There's a lot the show does right, and most of that is a combination of confident writing and directing paired with an impecable cast.  I could rave for hours about casting director David Rapaport's genius in hiring the perfect actor, time after time.   And since the slow dibbling out of multiple sub-plots which takes turns on the main stage was originally invented for comics, it's the perfect format for this story.

But it's the most contemporary element of this show that really stands out to me.  The Flash is set squarely at the end of the War on Drugs.  In the Henry Allen plot, the show deals frankly with the fact that there are parents in prison, that their children have to grow up living with this fact, and that there are all sorts of accomadations that have to be made for those children.  I can't think of another era in which this situation would have been such a small, ordinary, background detail.  It's heart-breaking, but for the sake of those real-life children I'm glad it's out there so they won't feel alone.  Now we just need to see "Cameron Scott" working in Central City's medical marijuana dispensary (He's here!  Bette Sans Souci was living with him!) to finally bring that misguided war to a close.

I'm looking forward to seeing more of this both refreshing and delightfully familiar universe.


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