Monday, September 5, 2016

TV on DVD Review: The Flash - Season 2

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters, mostly fun story
Cons: Lacks some of the heart of season 1
The Bottom Line:
Barry against Zoom
More action less character
But still worth watching

“I Don’t Have Time to Bring You Up to Speed.”  “That’s Ironic.”

Like many others, I was hooked on The Flash when it premiered in 2014, and I couldn’t wait to watch each episode every week.  Naturally, that meant I was looking forward to season 2 last fall.  While I still enjoyed it, it wasn’t quite as good as the first season.

In the aftermath of the first season finale, there are breaches all over Central City.  These breaches allow super powered villains to come into the city, causing havoc.  Naturally, Barry Allen, aka The Flash (Grant Gustin), is using all of his speed to not only stop these criminals but also to seal the breaches.

But things are even more complicated.  These villains coming through the breaches are actually under the influence of Zoom, the criminal lord over an alternative Earth.  He is obsessed with speed, and he wants to take The Flash’s from him.

Of course, this means that everyone working with Barry at Star Labs is figuring out a way to help stop Zoom.  Not that it is easy for everyone since Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) is mourning the loss of her new husband, Iris West (Candice Patton) is mourning the loss of her fiancĂ©e, and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) is distracted by a new crush.  Barry is still working for the police as his day job, and Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) is using Barry and his alter ego to solve as many cases as he can.

But there are surprises in store for the gang.  The first Flash, Jay Garrick (recurring guest star Teddy Sears), gets stranded in their dimension.  Barry’s father, Henry (recurring guest star John Wesley Shipp) newly released from prison, decides to leave town.  And it looks like Dr. Wells (Tom Cavanagh) may be back in town again.

As I said, there is still much right with the show this season.  I absolutely love the characters.  They are fantastic and so much fun to spend time with.  Getting to visit them each week was a delight.  Of course, I’m giving full credit to the writing and the acting here since the actors fully realize everything the writers put the characters through each week.

Likewise, the special effects are once again awesome.  I don’t even think about the many special effects shots we get each week on a TV show budget, but I buy everything I’m watching.

For the most part, the stories work this season.  The standalone episodes are wonderful, but I do have some niggles with the season long story, including some plot points that felt all too familiar.  Since this is the second season, that’s bad, and the characters acknowledging it doesn’t really help.

The show spent some time in the first third of the season setting up the spin off Legends of Tomorrow.  Since the majority of the cast originated on The Flash, I can certainly understand why, but it still felt rather obvious to me, maybe because everyone knew the spin off was coming in January.  Again, it’s not that these episodes were bad, but the purpose of them was so obvious it cut down on the entertainment.  The worst offender was the annual crossover with Arrow which was just a two hour backdoor pilot for the new show.

But the real flaw to me was that the show seemed to have lost its heart.  Barry and the relationships with the father figures in his life were much of the joy of season 1.  With his real dad, Henry, out of the picture for most of the season, they weren’t interacting at all.  When he was around, I felt how much his presence was missed.  Joe West, who raised Barry, has his own issues this season.  I loved them, but they cut down on those father/son moments.  These were always little scenes last year, but they added so much to season one.

None of these weaknesses are fatal.  They combined to take the show down a notch, but I still enjoyed tuning in and watching each week.

Season 2 consisted of 23 episodes, and they are all here in wide screen and full surround.  Extras include the Arrow half of the two show crossover, mini-featurettes on the special effects (one for many of the episodes), featurettes on Hawkman and Hawkgirl, characters for the spin off introduced on The Flash this season, one of Zoom, one on Kevin Smith’s involvement this season, and two panels, one from Comic Con and one from Paley Fest.  Finally, we get deleted scenes and a gag reel.

While I wish there had been more quiet character moments, I still enjoyed The Flash season 2 overall.  I’m looking forward to seeing where the characters go and how they grow as new seasons of the show unfold.

Season 2 Episodes:
1. The Man Who Saved Central City
2. Flash of Two Worlds
3. Family of Rogues
4. The Fury of Firestorm
5. The Darkness and the Light
6. Enter Zoom
7. Gorilla Warfare
8. Legends of Today
9. Running to Stand Still
10. Potential Energy
11. The Reverse-Flash Returns
12. Fast Lane
13. Welcome to Earth-2
14. Escape from Earth-2
15. King Shark
16. Trajectory
17. Flash Back
18. Versus Zoom
19. Back to Normal
20. Rupture
21. The Runaway Dinosaur
22. Invincible
23. The Race of His Life

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