Back in 1990, CBS debuted a series called The Flash, starring John Wesley Shipp as the supersonically speedy superhero from DC Comics. It lasted only a season, in part because it was on against NBC's juggernaut, The Cosby Show.

Now the CW is taking a whack at the concept. Right off the bat, this one stands a better chance of success, even up against CBS's dreadnought, NCIS.

That's because special effects and postproduction augmentation have come light years in the last quarter-century. (And because the CW is the opposite of Axl Rose: It never cancels a show.)

Grant Gustin, a charming actor (although a decidedly unathletic-looking one) plays Barry Allen, a science nerd who is turned into the "fastest man alive" when a particle accelerator implodes.

In a nice obeisance to the past, John Wesley Shipp has a recurring role as Barry's falsely imprisoned father.

The show has a pedigreed cast, including Tom Cavanagh (most recently a TV evangelist on The Following) and Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order).

Entertainment-wise, The Flash (8 p.m. Tuesday) will rise or fall on the quality of its villains. Obviously, Barry can't fight crooks. Too big a mismatch. So he needs some super-powered adversaries to make this action series work.

And they're not easy to come up with week after week. Which could consign this show to being another Flash in the pan.

DirecTV subscribers - and you know who you are - get an extraordinary bonus this week with Kingdom, one of the new season's most exciting shows.

I'd say it was the best sports-themed series the medium has ever know. Except I'm not convinced that mixed martial arts fighting is a sport. It's more of a vicious dogfight.

And Kingdom captures the savagery of that arena, its brutal training practices and shady promoters. (You can also get a remarkable nonfiction dose of this on The Ultimate Fighter on Fox Sports 1. Last year, women were the coaches. This year they're the combatants.)

That thumbnail description of Kingdom sounds pretty sordid, right? What elevates this project is the superb caliber of its acting.

Frank Grillo (Prison Break) plays a legendary MMA fighter who now trains others in his gym in Venice, Calif. I'm not sure what the drug interaction is between antidepressants and human growth hormone, but apparently volatility is one of the primary side effects.

Jonathan Tucker (The Black Donnellys) plays his crazy, cocky son who had a promising MMA career until his fondness for illicit chemicals made him non grata in the octagon.

He also harbors some deep resentments toward his old man, who is not that far distant from his own drug tailspin. "Now he's got his pills and his shrink and he's walking around telling everyone else what to do," complains Tucker.

In a bold bit of casting, Nick Jonas, the youngest of the singing Jonas Brothers, plays Grillo's younger son, an emerging fighter who sits sullenly between the two family hotheads.

The star of the ensemble is Matt Lauria (Friday Night Lights), a former MMA superstar known as the Destroyer, just out of prison after a four-year jolt, living in a shabby halfway house and sincerely trying to change his nature.

In a thoughtful and arresting performance, Lauria displays depths unseen in previous roles, like Parenthood and The Chicago Code. Though he's missing a few tints on his emotional palette, Jonas also acquits himself well, even with the strenuous physicality of the part.

But these are truly breakout performances by Grillo and Tucker, both of whom are electrifying and deserving of attention.

This is an incredibly violent and an incredibly powerful show about men who find it difficult to talk to one another but have no problem raising their voices - and their fists.

Caution: Kingdom is also a notably adult show with enough behavioral trangressions to keep a vice squad working overtime. It may fight dirty, but it packs quite a punch.


The Flash

8 p.m. Tuesday on The CW57


9 p.m. Wednesday

on DirecTV

Ch. 239


215-854-4875 @daveondemand_tv