In the mid 80's, writers Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo were working on a film adaptation of The Rocketeer with creator Dave Stevens while also pitching a superhero television show to CBS that would have involved The Flash, Green Arrow's daughter, Dr. Occult and Legionnaire Blok. Set in a future where superheroes are outlawed, Unlimited Powers would have been just a little too much for audiences used to the campy Batman series with Adam West or the more serious but still two man show, The Incredible Hulk. After a change of management, a show based on a single character was developed and The Flash was off and running. Produced by CBS and Warner Brothers for a cool $6.5 million, The Flash would be one of if not the most expensive pilots ever produced by the two studios hoping to ride the cape-tails of 1989's massive hit, Batman. Out of over 60 hopefuls, stage and small screen actor John Wesley Shipp was selected to don the red boots and hood.
After the pilot was picked up, production ramped up on the Warner Brothers back lot and the 22 episodes were shot on a grueling 9 day schedule over 9 months. Influenced by Batman and The Rocketeer, The Flash doesn't overly ape either property but instead takes the best bits from each to make an enjoyable blend of action and drama with some light humor and superhero excitement set in a stylized yet grungy pulp world. The big, Batman/40's style orchestral soundtrack punctuates the action and gives the show a grander feel. While not exactly a documentary, the creators and actors built their own reality within the show's universe where Allen's family dynamics and simmering romantic subplots share time with special effects driven superheroics. The pilot finds police scientist Allen on the revenge trail after his older brother and stalwart police officer, Jay, is killed. After a bolt of lightning sends Allen into a shelf full of chemicals, the once cerebral Allen is now also super fast. With the help of STAR labs scientist Tina McGee (Amanda Pays), Allen dons a suit that can withstand the tremendous pressure and wind of his newly acquired speed and sets out to catch the crooks who greased his big bro.
CBS decided to slot their expensive new show on Thursday nights against NBC's family favorite, The Cosby Show. Fox then decided to get into the fight and moved animated champ The Simpson's to Thursday as well. Having already spent millions on advertising, CBS didn't flinch and was now going head to head with two of TV's biggest performers. Ratings for The Flash were good but the show couldn't fight off the Cosby or Simpson clans. The Flash was then moved to the odd spot of 8:30PM to avoid the fierce competition but things did not improve. The subsequent move to 9:00PM did little as well. All in all, The Flash averaged over 9 million viewers for the season compared to The Simpson's 13 and The Cosby Show's 17. Given the series' stiff $1.5 million per episode cost, The Flash would not sprint into a second season.