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There's an exciting update on the Flash-focused Arrow spinoff. The incredibly talented Jesse L. Martin has joined the pilot, playing the role of Barry Allen's surrogate father. TV fans may know Martin best for his role as Detective Ed Green in Law & Order, while Broadway fanatics and Rent fans in particular likely associate him fondly with his role as the kind-hearted Tom Collins in the original production of the beloved 90s musical.
Barry Allen's fate hangs in the balance. If you're an Arrow fan, you know that's especially true, given how things left off for the character before the series broke for the winter hiatus, and where they picked up — or barely picked up — for him when the series resumed with the second half of its second season last week. While we wait for an update the kind and brainy scientist, we're also waiting for updates on the pilot that's in development at the CW, which would give Flash a series to call his own, assuming things work out for the project, which comes from Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and Geoff Johns. Casting is one place Arrow has really excelled, and judging by this latest update, added to Grant Gustin's already established charm in the lead role, that may prove to be the case for the Flash pilot.
THR says Jesse L. Martin will play Detective West, a surrogate father to Barry Allen. He's described as "an honest, blue-collar cop" and "a soulful, funny and caring father to Iris — Barry's potential love interest." West's backstory also involves having been raised in the foster care system. He took Barry in after his mother was killed and his father was imprisoned. "He believes in Barry and supports his efforts to prove his father's innocent." So it sounds like Martin's character will play a pretty significant role in the story, between the family tie-in and the fact that he's a cop, which would put him in the same professional field as Allen, who's a assistant police forensic investigator in Central City.
As mentioned, Martin's credits include a starring role in Law & Order. More recently, he recurred in the second season of NBC's Smash. And going back to his theater days, he starred in the original cast of the Broadway musical Rent, playing Tom Collins, a role he reprised for the 2005 feature adaptation. Here he is singing the reprise of "I'll Cover you."
It seems unlikely that Martin's musical talents will come in handy in the Flash drama, but they're well worth noting regardless. As for the status of the Flash spinoff, at this point, all we can do is cross our fingers that it turns out good enough for CW to send it to series. If it doesn't, it's unlikely that Arrow's ratings will have much to do with that, if anything. The CW series is currently hovering in the 2.5 to 3 million viewer range per episode, which may not seem incredibly high — and it isn't, by comparison to the other major networks — but is actually in the upper end of the viewership spectrum for a CW series. For comparison's sake, Supernatural's currently bringing in somewhere in the ballpark of 2 million viewers, while The Vampire Diaries averages somewhere closer to 2.5 million. So Arrow's numbers bode well for the Flash pilot, as does the fact that Arrow scribes Berlanti, Johns and Kreisberg are developing this potential series. But nothing's set until it goes to series, so fingers crossed!