It was inevitable, I suppose.
After the monstrous success of ``Batman,' and the not-too-disappointing debut of ``Dick Tracy' on the big screen, the next step out of the comic books leads to television. And so, we have ``The Flash,' straight from a 50-year run in D.C. Comics, reconstituted as a new adventure-drama series that begins with a two-hour episode at 8 p.m. Thursday on CBS (WFMY, Channel 2).Barry Allen (John Wesley Shipp) is a lab scientist for the Central City Police Department. One stormy night, while slaving over a batch of mixed chemicals, a bolt of lightning crashes through the window and knocks him to the floor. For several minutes he lies stunned, his body bathed in an eerie blue glow. He isn't aware yet, but we know the electric charge has given him the power of speed, that he will be able to run nearly 600 mph, creating a small sonic boom as he passes the speed of sound.
At first, he's mystified when, racing to catch a bus, he overshoots and winds up seconds later in the surf some 30 miles away. Surprised by an unexpected visit from his girlfriend (Paula Marshall), he starts to clean up the apartment and, before he knows it, has raced around the loft at such great speed, his shoes catch on fire.
The next step is donning the familiar red suit with the yellow lightning flash on the chest. It's provided by an attractive research scientist, Tina McGee (Amanda Pays), whose possessive attitude toward Allen creates a temporary rift between him and his girlfriend. Since the intense speed rips his regular clothing to shreds, McGee comes up with a variation on a Russian underwater suit that hugs the body, allows movement and reduces draft. Besides, it looks smashing.
The first episode takes its time getting the facts straight. We get glimpses of family life at the Allen home where papa Henry (M. Emmet Walsh), a retired street cop, praises son Jay (Tim Thomerson) for following in his footsteps and ridicules Barry for his desk work. Henry must set some sort of record for the number of times he uses the word ``hell.'
The brothers are close and when Jay is killed by a marauding motorcycle gang, Barry decides to become an off-hours crime-fighter. He asks McGee to come up with a suitable hood, and before you know it, ``The Flash' is born.
Shipp's physique is the major reason he was hired for the title role. It certainly wasn't his acting talent. At least he's at ease in front of the camera, no doubt a result of the many seasons he spent with the soaps, ``Guiding Light' and ``As The World Turns.' Unfortunately, Pays (``Max Headroom') plays the brainy research scientist straight. Too bad. It's the perfect kind of role for spoofing.
The special effects consist mostly of reddish blurs as Allen in his ``Flash' suit whizzes in and out of the scene. The bad guys, led by a scar-faced, black leather meanie named Pike (Michael Nader), congregate in a poorly-lit subterranean hall. Their plans to annihilate the Central City police force are going full steam until ``The Flash' appears.
Everybody connected with ``The Flash' seems to be in earnest. Danny Elfman's bombastic theme sounds like a ``Batman' discard and Sandi Sissel's photography is all midnight blues and shadows, even when the action takes place indoors.
A bit too grown-up for kids and too infantile for adults, ``The Flash' may turn out to be just another flash in the pan.
``Married People,' premiering at 9:30 p.m. today on ABC (WGHP, Channel 8), is minimizing its risks by giving us not one, not two, but three married couples. They all live in a brownstone in a section of New York that was called Harlem until some smart real estate agent renamed it Central Park North. (Unless you're acquainted with Central Park South, you may miss the humor.)
Olivia (Barbara Montgomery and Nick (Ray Aranha) are the middle-aged landlords. Yuppie lawyer Elizabeth (Bess Armstrong) and her writer-husband, Russell (Jay Thomas), occupy the second floor. Cindy (Megan Gallavan) and Allen (Chris Young) are late arrivals, a couple of newlyweds from Indiana. He's a freshman at Columbia University and she - well, she came along to be with him.
The setting may have a geographic base, but, like many of this season's new shows, these ``Married People' live in sitcomland. Their conversation consists primarily of witty one-liners (you can recognize them by the hysterical guffawing on the laugh track). The formula is fleshed out by having Elizabeth pregnant; Nick suspicious about Russell's work-at-home schedule; and Cindy having a conniption when Allen is too late to enjoy her cheese fondue.
All this madcap hilarity is capped with a final line that illustrates the show's determination to get a laugh at any cost.