The Flash: John Wesley Shipp on Why 90s Flash Failed; Season 8 Preview

While a good chunk of The CW's Arrowverse will be returning or debuting next week (Batwoman, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Superman & Lois, and Naomi), folks over at The Flash are taking a longer break. Though considering they just narrowly avoided "Armageddon," we think they've earned the extra time. But when the series returns on a new night (Wednesdays) on March 9 with "Impulsive Excessive Disorder," Bart Allen aka Impulse (Jordan Fisher) and Nora West-Allen aka XS (Jessica Parker Kennedy) have some serious clean-up to do to the time stream after the pair was last seen appearing in a photograph with Eddie Thawne from 2014. So to make things right, Bart and Nora will have to go back to where it all began for Barry. Of course, when we talk about where it all began we can't help but think of John Wesley Shipp aka Henry Allen, Barry's father. Now as fans of the Arrowverse already know, Shipp's connections to the Speed Force go all the way back to 1990 when he portrayed Barry Allen aka The Flash in the short-lived but still beloved CBS series. Not only would Shipp go on to join The CW's DCU as both Henry Allen and Jay Garrick aka The Flash, but he would reprise his Barry Allen aka The Flash for both the "Elseworlds" and "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover events.

the flash
Image: Screencaps

Podcast host and actor Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) had a chance to speak with Shipp about his 1990s series as well as what it was like joining the cast of a new iteration of the scarlet speedster during Shipp's visit to Rosenbaum's Inside of You podcast. In the following clip, Shipp opens up about how that emotional father-son prison scene with Gustin from the long-running Arrowverse series' start went a long way towards making peace with the past. There's a truly fine moment during the interview where Shipp explains how it was more than just a scene between father and son; that in many ways, it was also about one "Barry" passing the baton to another "Barry" and Shipp in some respects doing the same with Gustin.

From there, Shipp reveals some of the reasons why he believed his 1990s series had a rough chance at success, beginning with the idea that the pop culture landscape still wasn't as accepting of taking superhero films & shows as seriously as they do today. Shipp readily admits that as an actor, he was hesitant to audition for the role (though the writing won him over) at the time because actors didn't see wearing spandex as a viable career move (wow, how times have changed). In addition, the show wasn't cheap- actually, it was the most expensive show WBTV had produced up to that point so expectations were high. Add to that some tough competition on the other broadcast networks at the time, and it sounds like it was the makings of an impossible hurdle for the show to ever clear. Here's a look at the clip where Shipp goes into more detail- definitely worth a listen:

And speaking of the upcoming series return, we learned that Mika Abdalla (Project Mc², Sex Appeal) would be joining the cast this season in the role of Tinya Wazzo. The reluctant meta-teenager finds their life turned upside down after years of successfully hiding in plain sight when she becomes the subject of Iris West-Allen's (Candice Patton) latest investigation for CC Citizen Media. Soon, Wazzo is thrust into a dangerous world she never knew existed—one that will change her life forever. So why is this important? Because while Abdalla's Wazzo has no superhero designation at this time, the character has quite a history on the DC Comics side. Wazzo is known as Phantom Girl (and also Apparition, depending on where you are with DC's 183 timeline reboots and readjustments), a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes from the far-flung 30th & 31st centuries. Again, there's nothing on the Arrowverse side to signal the debut of the Legion any time soon, but it's definitely something worth staying tuned over.

Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) lived a normal life as a perpetually tardy C.S.I. in the Central City Police Department. But his life changed forever when the S.T.A.R. Labs Particle Accelerator exploded, creating a dark-matter lightning storm that struck Barry… bestowing him with superspeed and making him the fastest man alive — The Flash. After stopping the Godspeed War last season, it's six months later and Barry and Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton) are now at the top of their game—both in their careers as superhero and reporter and as a devoted couple. But when the powerful alien Despero unleashes near annihilation on Central City, The Flash and his team—Caitlin Snow/Frost (Danielle Panabaker), Meta-Empath Cecile Horton (Danielle Nicolet), the light-powered meta Allegra Garcia (Kayla Compton), brilliant tech-nerd Chester P. Runk (Brandon McKnight) and retired detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin)—must once again defy impossible odds to save the day. But their victory is short-lived as two new threats rise from the ashes of "Armageddon," one of which will unleash unforeseen horrors into the lives of Barry and his teammates… and change Team Flash forever.

The CW's The Flash stars Grant Gustin as Barry Allen/The Flash, Candice Patton as Iris West-Allen, Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost, Danielle Nicolet as Cecile Horton, Kayla Compton as Allegra Garcia, and Brandon McKnight as Chester P. Runk, with Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West. Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, and Eric Wallace executive produce. Produced by Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television.

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About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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