Monday, September 21, 2015

TV on DVD Review: The Flash (2014) - Season 1



Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Amazing characters and acting in a truly fun story
Cons: Any cons will be gone in a flash
The Bottom Line:
Super-fast Barry
In a charming and fun show
Delightful for all




“Impossible’s Just another Tuesday for Us, Remember?”

When Grant Gustin first appeared on Arrow as Barry Allen, I was among those spectacle about his performance and wondering if he could really pull off the lead on The Flash.  However, I figured I’d give it a try when it premiered last fall.  By the end of the pilot, I was hooked, and that feeling never left the entire first season.

Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) is a crime scene technician in Central City.  When he was 10, he lost his mother in a strange event that has never been explained, and the police have convicted his father (recurring guest star John Wesley Shipps) for the crime.  As a result, he was raised by Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), the father of his best friend Iris (Candice Patton).

On the night the story really begins, Barry is working late in the lab while across town, Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) of S.T.A.R. Labs is going to flip the switch on his new particle accelerator.  Something goes horribly wrong, however, and, thanks to a storm, Barry is struck by the fallout.  When he wakes up nine months later, he has an incredible talent.  He can run very, very fast.  He starts working with the remnants of S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), to fully understand and use his new powers.

Because Barry wasn’t the only one affected by the accident at the particle accelerator, and Barry finds himself using his new powers to fight these villains working alongside Joe West, a detective on the police force and his partner, Detective Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett).  Meanwhile, he also realizes that he might now hold the key to getting his father out of jail.  But where might his investigation lead?

Okay, okay, so my plot teaser is really little more than the pilot.  Yet that really is the premise for the first season as Barry begins to find out just what he can do now fighting the villain of the week.  In the second half of the season, while there is still plenty of fighting the villain of the week, pieces of the larger story begin to fall into place and hooked me even more than I already was.  It certainly helped that what little I knew about this character came from the 1990 TV show, so I was coming to this completely fresh.

Speaking of that older version, I love the fact that they continually make nods to it even though it is pretty much forgotten today.  Barry’s father is played by the Barry from that original show, John Wesley Shipp.  The female lead from the original, Amanda Pays, guest stars twice as a character with the same name.  But the best thing was a guest appearance by Mark Hamill reprising his villain, The Trickster, from the original show.  And it allows one of the best lines of the entire season.

The pilot also shows the perfect balance of tone that the show strives for over the course of the entire season.  Most of the time, the show is light with plenty of great lines from the cast.  Essentially, it shows Barry enjoying his new found powers and exploring what he can do as he saves his city.  However, there are more serious moments.  When those hit, the show gets those 100% right, too.  And yes, we often get those in the same episode, but it is never jarring.  As the season progresses, the show does lean toward the serious side, but it always works.  And the groundwork they’ve laid pays off big time in the season finale.  If you don’t at least chock up while watching it, something is definitely wrong with you.

This isn’t one of those spin offs that was left to fly on its own right away.  There is an official cross over story with Arrow early in the season, and the characters pop up on each other’s shows several other times.  You don’t have to watch season 3 of Arrow while watching this season of The Flash, but it would certainly help.  Oh, and for the record, Felicity gets the best lines here just like she does on Arrow.

As you might expect from what I’ve said, the acting is phenomenal.  The cast obviously gelled right away, and their friendships translate well to the screen.  They balance the various tones perfectly and truly make us care for the characters.

Meanwhile, the special effects are great.  Obviously, we need a lot of them for a show about a superfast human and the various other super powered people he fights.  I always buy what I am seeing on the screen.

All 23 episodes of the first season are preserved in this set.  Naturally, they are in widescreen and full surround.  In addition to the deleted scenes, gag reel, and audio commentary, we get a featurette on creating the fast moving special effect, a screen test for Grant, and one of the return of the Trickster.

Every week, I couldn’t wait until Tuesday to watch Barry’s latest adventure.  Start watching season 1 of The Flash today, and you’ll be hooked even faster than Barry runs.

Season 1 Episodes:
1. Pilot
2. Fastest Man Alive
3. Things You Can’t Outrun
4. Going Rogue
5. Plastique
6. The Flash is Born
7. Power Outage
8. Flash vs. Arrow
9. The Man in the Yellow Suit
10. Revenge of the Rogues
11. The Sound and the Fury
12. Crazy for You
13. The Nuclear Man
14. Fallout
15. Out of Time
16. Rogue Time
17. Tricksters
18. All Star Team Up
19. Who is Harrison Wells?
20. The Trap
21. Grodd Lives
22. Rogue Air
23. Fast Enough

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