The Flash: John Wesley Shipp Honors CBS Series' 30th Anniversary

When it comes to the growth and success of The CW's Arrowverse, there are more than people to thank for making the DC Comics universe of the printed page come to life on millions of television screens. One person whose name needs to be on that "thank you" list is John Wesley Shipp, star of CBS' 1990 take on The Flash– the series that many say was "Arrowverse" before "Arrowverse" was cool. The fact that Shipp's played such a prominent role in the Arrowverse clearly shows that we're far from the only ones who feel this way. He's portrayed Henry Allen and Jay Garrick/The Flash opposite Grant Gustin's Barry Allen/The Flash and even reprised his original series role for both the network's "Elseworlds" and "Crisis on Infinite Earths" mega-crossover events.

The Flash: John Wesley Shipp Honors CBS Series' 30th Anniversary
The Flash © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

But on September 20, 2020, it's all about that original CBS series (and that sweet suit), with Sunday marking the 30th anniversary of the series' debut. To honor the occasion, Shipp took to Twitter to share an image of the advertising and promotional material that went out touting the series' strong reviews. Along with the message came a heartfelt message of thanks and appreciation to those who helped him along the way and for the fans who continue to embrace him for his time on the show.

Jumping back on the cosmic treadmill for a journey back to now, The Flash executive producer Eric Wallace explained recently how the series will handle being without Hartley Sawyer (Ralph Dibney aka Elongated Man), who was fired from The CW's long-running Arrowverse series after a number of tweets from Sawyer's past came to light that contained misogynist, homophobic, and racist language. First, the obvious question: is this the last we'll see of Ralph Dibney aka Elongated Man? Wallace admits that the character will be taking "a bit of a rest for a while," but viewers shouldn't assume that means he's gone for good. While Wallace chalks up the ability to bring him back as "the beauty of comic book stories and superhero stories," it sounds like his stretching abilities will come into play to cast a new actor.

The Flash: John Wesley Shipp Honors CBS Series' 30th Anniversary
The Flash (Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved)

"The beauty of comic book stories and superhero stories are the conventions that heroes come and go, but they never fade away and they never disappear entirely. So we're going to treat it like we would if we were writing a comic book graphic novel. We're giving the Elongated Man a bit of a rest for a while. But we will leave the door open," Wallace revealed. "Who knows what the future could bring. It is unknown. But I'm not saying by any means that it's the end of the character, in fact, quite the opposite. We just don't know when he will return, or in what form he will return. And that's the beauty of comic book stories. It keeps it fresh."

In fact, it sounds like that's exactly how Wallace and the creative team will still be able to have Elongated Man involved at the beginning of the seventh season (a must considering the role he plays in one of the major sixth season cliffhangers) without needing Sawyer: "In order to wrap that up, which we're going to do at the top of season 7, Ralph has to be part of that. Now thank goodness, Ralph is a guy who can change faces and his appearance in many ways. Without giving any spoilers away, there are a couple of ways that we can have Elongated Man still appear in at least one episode this season to wrap that storyline up, that gets us what we need and still allows fans to say goodbye to the character, at least for the indefinite future."

The Flash -- "Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Three" -- Image Number: FLA609b_0412b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): John Wesley Shipp as Flash 90 and Cress Williams as Black Lightning -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
The Flash (Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved)

Wallace didn't hold back during the interview, also revealing that not having Elongated Man around did impact a major Season 7 storyline: "There was a whole storyline that involved Ralph with another character, in particular, going off on a two-hander journey — a season-long [arc] that would have involved a whole bunch of twists and turns that would have played into the season's big bad, which I don't want to spoil. And yeah, we can't do that anymore," Wallace explained. But what's Ralph's loss will be another character's gain: "We pulled the Elongated Man out of this particular storyline, and the storyline became so much stronger because now it's focused on the other character, [who] I don't want to reveal because it's a surprise. For that other character, it became a much more of an emotional journey. And this other character I'm referring to is one of our series regulars, so it's going to be very exciting. That particular character now gets to go somewhere that we never imagined they would until many seasons down the line, but we just pulled that up. So I think it's going to be really fun. And it was a good way to, like I said, make an awkward situation into a great opportunity that ends up making Team Flash as a whole, stronger."

About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought on board as staff in 2017.

twitter   instagram   envelope