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The Flash #1.2 “Fastest Man Alive” Recap & Review

The second outing surprisingly turns focus onto Barry and Joe’s relationship, with a solid emotional story and very cool villain.

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FLA102b_0107bSummary: The second outing surprisingly turns focus onto Barry and Joe’s relationship, with a solid emotional story and very cool villain.

Recap

Barry (Grant Gustin) escorts Iris (Candice Patton) to a university gathering honoring scientist Simon Stagg (William Sadler). When six gunmen storm the event, Barry changes into The Flash and tries to stop them. While he does save a man’s life, he passes out before he can capture the robbers, which frustrates him. Dr. Wells (Tom Cavanagh), Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) determine that it’s because of his new metabolism, and Cisco creates new protein bars for him. Meanwhile, Joe (Jesse Martin) comes down hard on Barry for taking the law into his own hands and risking his life. Barry realizes that it wasn’t six gunmen but a metahuman named Danton Black (Michael Christopher Smith), who can make multiples of himself. After Barry fails at his first attempt to capture Black, Dr. Wells convinces Joe that Barry is not going to stop trying to be a hero, and if he doesn’t have confidence that he can do it, he will fail. Joe shows his support, and Barry is able to defeat Black. Meanwhile, Iris becomes even more intrigued by the “red streak,” and investigating him reinvigorates her interest in journalism. Dr. Wells eventually murders Stagg, claiming to protect the man who will become The Flash.

Review

The second episode of The Flash is more-or-less what’s to be expected from a typical second episode of a series. After the pilot crammed in all the introductions and set-up for the status quo, “Fastest Man Alive” is a clearer picture of what the show will look like week-to-week. Like many second episodes of shows, that means it’s not particularly above average; much time has to be spent reaffirming the relationships and re-establishing what the pilot did, but without going so far as to completely rehash it. It’s a fine line to walk for a genre show with villains-of-the-week, particularly. For example, we’ve consistently said over at GreenArrowTV that Arrow‘s second episode is perhaps its worst compared with the rest of the show, squarely for those same reasons. “Fastest Man Alive” is average in that regard, but it excels thanks to two factors: delving into the relationship between Barry and Joe, and throwing out an ambitious first post-pilot villain.

FLA102c_0377bThe relationship between Barry and Joe was the biggest surprise in the pilot, especially that Joe found out Barry’s secret right at the start of the show. But even still, it’s a bit un-CW-like to pin the first major character exploration on anyone but the, erm, “young” characters. With a show that established its love triangle and quirky young scientists right at the start, it’s surprising to see the parental relationship the first to be so heavily toyed with, a welcome departure from expectations already. This works best because Jesse L. Martin is constantly swimming in emotion, taking what’s written as rather generic cop/dad material and lifting it into something completely different. Martin gets to be on the edge of tears a lot this week, both in the past and the present, but he’s very good at selling that emotion without negating the toughness of his cop persona.

Joe’s arc over “Fastest Man Alive” is nothing terribly innovative—it’s as much a “father watching and accepting his son come of age” as anything—but it lets this episode be as much Joe’s story as it is Barry’s. That doesn’t mean it takes away from Barry, and in fact delving into their complex relationship further supports Barry’s yearning to take action that much more. But it’s a clever decision to have the flashbacks belong to both Joe and Barry, depending on how you look at it. It’s the story of a lost boy accepting his new father figure; and it’s the story of one father passing the torch to another, the latter accepting the responsibilities that come with it. Both are rather powerful and unique to The Flash, crafting an important throughline for this episode to succeed. Its satisfying conclusion is the best scene in the episode, with quite a tearjerker of a speech delivered with genuine pathos by Grant Gustin, and the expected warm reaction from the watery-eyed Martin. The Flash doesn’t have much by way of the hardcore drama that made Arrow successful yet, but it’s filling the void with well-handled emotional climaxes, something Arrow wasn’t able to do at this point in its infancy.

The villain, Danton Black/Captain Clone/Multiplex, is a ballsy enemy to throw in so early. Multiplex is hardly even a C-list villain, but his power-set is such that it could easily go horribly wrong effects-wise, especially given the effects team is still nailing down Flash himself. Instead, we get a climax with an entire army made up of dozens (hundreds?) of clones on a stampede, and damn if it isn’t a stunning display of TV special effects. What could have been a disaster of Matrix Reloaded proportions is circumvented with imaginative and downright balls-to-the-wall sequences. There’s a point when Flash punches Multiplex in the face, the momentum of which causes three more clones to burst out of his back. That sounds utterly ridiculous, but there’s a childlike glee in seeing something so wild rendered on screen as well as it is. There are certainly points during Flash’s big battle where the characters have that CGI-model sheen, but it’s not distracting with so much happening. Michael Christopher Smith does some decent work making Black somewhat sympathetic, even in light of a cheesy villain monologue that feels rather out of place. For a show with so many detectives and scientists, it would have made more sense to have the characters draw the conclusion about Black’s motives on their own, rather than have Black clunkily deliver them. That said, Smith isn’t the least bit stiff otherwise, and handles the action bits well.

FLA102a_205bAs for the supporting players, we’re still going to need some time to draw out everyone else. At S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin and Cisco are still not much more than their archetypes as “neurotic worrier” and “geeky genius,” respectively, though Danielle Panabaker and Carlos Valdes do what they can with the material. Neither particularly succeed nor fail, they’re just mostly there to deliver exposition and the occasional one-liner until the show decides to put them in the limelight. Tom Cavanagh, on the other hand, is given ample material as Dr. Wells. Cavanagh is a bit of a casting coup, it’s turned out, as few could churn out his equal parts “warm fatherly genius” and “creepy diabolical zealot” and make sense. There’s an alienness he gives to Wells, which works for either perspective; he’s a eccentric scientist who’s been severely damaged by his experiences, and he’s also a giant enigma at the center of an overarching mystery we don’t even understand yet.

Iris seems more and more like The Flash‘s anti-Laurel, a way to circumvent the problems Arrow had with its primary romantic lead early on by making many of the opposite choices. Like Barry, Iris is the youthiest of the CW youthfuls you could expect, so far defined by spunk with a dash of loveable ditziness. This has worked so far because Candice Patton is very fun in the role, and has managed to teeter on the edge of annoying without crossing that line. It’s going to take a bit of work to make her seem like a viable romantic option for Barry, since they really do play as siblings a little too well. It’s also going to be hard to keep her out of the inner circle for too long with her father in the know. Luckily, she’s already getting her own Lois Lane-esque sideplot with her newfound interest in the mysterious red blur, which should keep her occupied whilst also having her marginally involved in the main story. Conversely, Rick Cosnett as Eddie Thawne has the slightest, teensiest bit more charisma, but he’s still pretty much a blank slate and romantic antagonist at this stage.

Its other components are hit-or-miss, mostly, as the show is definitely working out the kinks here. It’s often trying too hard to capture a Joss Whedon-y style of meta humor for the genre, as evidenced by the strange fake-out with Black’s clone at S.T.A.R. Labs. It’s not a bad fake-out, but it’s really weird, not the sort of humor that fits with the rest of the episode, which conversely plays tropes like the aforementioned villain monologue far too straight. A mixture of both is preferred, though admittedly this show has the capability to play up the humor far more than Arrow can. Likewise, the different uses of superspeed are fun, as there’s a fitting unpolished, experimental feel to it all, but some things (Barry shaking the vial to get faster lab results) work better than others (his cheesy superspeed rant to Iris.) But the creativity is certainly embraced one way or another.

Screen-Shot-2014-10-13-at-10.09.08-AMWe all got pretty jaded over Smallville comparisons when Arrow debuted, especially given how little that show ended up resembling its CW predecessor. But, while it may be beating a dead horse, The Flash circles back a bit and does, actually, feel loads more like Smallville this week. It’s still a vastly different show, obviously, but the supercollider-freak-of-the-week formula of The Flash definitely feels more akin to early Smallville than early Arrow. The optimistic, color-saturated tone is also very close to what Smallville was in its first couple of seasons, yet mixed with some of the more overt superheroics of its latter three seasons. However, The Flash has a bigger universe from the get-go, a different beast with far more potential for all of this to coalesce or explode into something bigger.

“Fastest Man Alive” succeeds because all these elements still tie in as a cohesive whole as Barry’s story. This episode is ultimately about Barry’s confidence in himself, which is only boosted by the people around him forming his supporting structure. It’s an easy story, even a bit childish, but The Flash seems to be embracing that childlike wonder of superheroes. Barry himself even states in his end monologue about every child wanting to be a superhero, and the love of his own powers. And like Barry having both Henry and Joe as fathers, The Flash will take a village—Joe and everyone at S.T.A.R. Labs—to grow as a hero. That “we all got struck by that lightning” line is incredibly cheesy, but it kind of works as a character beat from Barry, someone with a childlike optimism trying to inspire the rest of the world. It’s a refreshing take on a superhero show nowadays, and thus far has allowed The Flash to further differentiate itself from its parent show, while still retaining the momentum and pace of the CW/DC universe.

Odds & Ends

  • Barry’s cheeky opening dialogue about not needing an intro would work better if there…wasn’t actually an intro preceding it.
  • Other than giving us a reason to use a flashback pun every week, giving the The Flash a flashback storyline doesn’t feel perfectly in sync with the show. It makes sense on Arrow, and it works this week since it mostly provides backstory for Joe, but it might be a little much if this becomes a weekly thing. That said, occasional flashbacks expounding on characters backstories (which, again, this basically was for Joe) sound just fine.
  • William Sadler is pretty awesome, but he’s in a rather thankless role as Simon Stagg. Oh well.
  • How in the world are they going to dispose of the dead army of Multiplex clones? It doesn’t look like they all dissolve or anything. It’s a freaky image to see them all lying there.
  • Stagg Industries was mentioned off-hand a couple of times in Arrow‘s first season, so we’re starting to see the shows’ synergy in subtle ways.
  • I know that [Spoiler] Robbie Amell is going to be playing Ronnie Raymond in flashbacks, but the pregnant pause when Dr. Wells says, “He is…missed” means he’s definitely alive, right?
  • “You’re all wearing your finest jewelry, almost if you knew we were coming to rob you!”
  • “You’re not bulletproof. Wait…are you?”
  • “I believed the fastest man alive could run a mile in four minutes, not four seconds.”
    “I can do it in three! …Not relevant.”

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Blu-ray Review: The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season

Review of The Flash Season 6 Blu-ray set from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

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The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, and we have been provided with a copy of the set to review on the site!

The set features all 19 episodes of The Flash Season 6 plus extras — the Blu-ray includes all of the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover!

Here’s what’s up:

Packaging & Design: Starting with this because it’s probably the first thing you’ll notice. The box art for this set has changed since the original press release — the fired Hartley Sawyer’s Ralph Dibny is no longer on the packaging. While I understand the show distancing themselves — Ralph was indeed an important part of Season 6, with his Sue Dearbon story, and I’m not 100% sure how I think they should have handled it. As it is, it looks odd with just the other four members of Team Flash on it. Though, to be fair, Nash Wells isn’t on the cover either.

With that said, The Flash sets usually have some of the best designed packaging and menu art and this set is no exception.

The Episodes: Also seems I am repeating myself but the Blu-ray presentation on The Flash is loads better than what we see on TV and is pretty cinematic. All 19 episodes of Season 6 are here, and — spoiler warning — because of COVID-19, they were cut off at 19 episodes, so that means some storylines aren’t completely wrapped. With that said, this season saw Eric Wallace taking over as showrunner, and with him came a new tactic that he referred to as “graphic novels.” The first “graphic novel” included the character Bloodwork (Sendhil Ramamurthy) as characters are facing death, and the second, after Crisis, dealt with a new “Mirror Master.”

I will say that The Flash under Eric Wallace has a great vision and I love his enthusiasm, which you can actually hear on the “Kiss Kiss Breach Breach” commentary. He’s as big of a geek as we are, and I mean that in the absolute best way. The only thing I’d have to say negative about Season 6 is that the mirror storyline has gone on way too long — and I wonder, if they had known all along that we’d end with 19 episodes (an impossibility, because who would?), it might have been a bit shorter.

This “graphic novel” set-up, however, does offer the chance to binge the season in parts, which is pretty cool, and the Blu-ray bonus disc of all of Crisis on Infinite Earths is a good thing to throw in the middle to tee up Graphic Novel #2.

The other thing I will say about Season 6 is that I really liked some of the new characters that are set up. Chester P. Runk, Sue Dearbon, Kamilla, and Allegra — all fun characters that add to rather than detract from the series.

The Extras: The set includes a bonus black and white noir version of “Kiss Kiss Breach Breach” with commentary by Eric Wallace. Commentaries don’t happen too often these days, so I’m so glad they put something on this set. There is also a gag reel and deleted scenes. And, of course, all of Crisis which has a lot of great Flash content!

Is It Worth It? If you’re a Flash completist or want to see the most recent season in high definition, sure. You might want to start at the very beginning, though. Still, I think The Flash is on its way back to its former glory and Season 6 is the start of that journey. Can’t wait for Season 7, and for now, this set will be revisited often.

Get your copy of the Blu-ray from Amazon.com at a discounted price and support FlashTVNews!

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Blu-ray Review: The Flash: The Complete Fifth Season

Review of the Flash Season 5 Blu-ray set.

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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided FlashTVNews with a free copy of this set for review in this post. The opinions shared are my own.

The Flash: The Complete Fifth Season hits Blu-ray and DVD this week, containing all 22 episodes of Season 5 plus bonus episodes from the Elseworlds crossover. In addition to the entire season, there are few extra features for all to enjoy, though some are duplicated from other sets that were made available this year. Here’s the review.

The Episodes: As mentioned, all 22 episodes plus extras are on this set. And as I tend to write every year, the show isn’t quite at the high level it was in its first season, but there are definitely standouts in Season 5. A big theme for the season is family, and the conflicts between parents and their children. Caitlin and her parents are a part of that. The season’s villain is a part of that. And the biggest part of that is Nora West-Allen (Jessica Parker Kennedy), the daughter of Barry and Iris brought back from the future. Kennedy is fantastic in the role, though it is at times disappointing to see so much attention on a new character when we are here for the ones we’ve seen for 100+ episodes.

The Flash Season 5 contains the series’ 100th episode which is a great journey through the five years of the show. Sadly absent from Episode 100, though, is Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) who was recovering from an injury for a good part of the season. Martin’s presence was certainly missed though it is nice that the show upgraded Danielle Nicolet (Cecile) to series regular this year.

I’ll be honest: I wasn’t very invested in the Cicada story, at least not as much as I probably should have been. And I was even less into the latest Wells, “Sherloque,” which was a joke that stopped being funny within about 2 minutes, with no offense meant to the writers or Tom Cavanagh. It was nice to see the talented Cavanagh in another role, though part of me still is wondering why it was not Matt Letscher, though I’m forgiving that because, again, Tom Cavanagh.

I’m also not sure what to make of Vibe’s eventual fate, unless it is a way to make things less easy for next year’s crossover. In any event, watching these episodes still has me excited for Season 6, and The Flash is certainly a series that is worth the Blu-Ray upgrade.

The Extras: There’s a fantastic featurette about the origins of Killer Frost which is really well put together. I was, however, surprised that such attention wasn’t paid to XS/Nora as she was also a major arc for Season 5. Was there only room to cover one story? I’m also surprised there wasn’t some kind of 100th episode spotlight, especially since Warner Bros. did have press kit people on the line interviewing the cast.

There are Elseworlds, villains, and Comic-Con featurettes that you can find on the other DC TV shows this year, which I can only imagine is a cost-cutting measure to include them everywhere.

The set also has deleted scenes, with the most notable being Superman running with Oliver Queen from “Elseworlds Part 1.” It’s a shame that was cut. There was also a “My Name Is Barry Allen” from “Elseworlds” with Stephen Amell replacing Grant Gustin as Grant replaced him in the aired Part 2 — this was surely cut and unfinished so as to not blow the reveal that Oliver was Barry in Part 1. It’s still really cute and fun.

Finally, there’s a gag reel. While they are introduced with credits like The Office, they’re still a bit… meh.

Packaging and Design: Seeing Barry and Nora running side by side is the perfect way to sell this. Very nice looking.

Is It Worth It? I’ll always recommend picking up Flash Blu-Rays from the beginning, but this is certainly worthwhile, especially to prepare for Season 6 to premiere on October 8. You can purchase this set (and support this site!) here.

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Blu-ray Review: The Flash: The Complete Fourth Season

Review of the Blu-ray set for The Flash: The Complete Fourth Season

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The Complete Fourth Season of The Flash hits Blu-ray and DVD this week (Tuesday, August 28), and we’ve got our hands on a review copy!

Before we get to the review, here’s how the season is described:

In Season Four, the mission of Barry Allen, aka The Flash (Grant Gustin), is once more to protect Central City from metahuman threats. First, he’ll have to escape the Speed Force. With Barry trapped, the job of protecting Central City falls to his family – Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin); his fiancée, Iris West (Candice Patton); and Wally West/Kid Flash (Keiynan Lonsdale) – and the team at S.T.A.R. Labs – Dr. Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker), Cisco Ramon/Vibe (Carlos Valdes) and brilliant scientist Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh). When a powerful villain threatens to level the city if The Flash doesn’t appear, Cisco risks everything to break Barry out of the Speed Force. But this is only the first move of a life-or-death chess game with Clifford DeVoe aka The Thinker (Neil Sandilands), a mastermind who’s always ten steps ahead of Barry, no matter how fast he’s running. Shocking surprises come fast and furious in all 23 action-packed adventures featuring The Fastest Man Alive.

So, how’s the set?

The Episodes: It’s going to be very hard to ever replicate the greatness that was the first season of The Flash. Unfortunately, one thing that The Flash Season 1 did so well that still didn’t connect for Season 4 is a strong villain. While I have more appreciation for The Thinker after rewatching some episodes and checking out the extra interview features on this set, I still don’t really feel that empathy and care for him that I had for, say, Eobard/Wells.

Season 4 also tried to course correct with more humor to varied success. Sometimes it worked; others the show was far too amused with itself. (I don’t need to see any more Wellses no matter how much I love Tom Cavanagh, for example, and “psychic pregnancy” will never not be too campy for me.)

There’s some good stuff, though. The best version of Barry’s suit so far premieres in Season 4, and Barry and Iris finally get married this year, even if every time they got married, they ended up interrupted. There are some episodes that worked to innovate, and there are also things like Barry in jail which seem to go on for too long. But at least with a DVD or Blu-ray you can fast forward, right?

Season 4 is also where we meet Ralph Dibny. He grows on you until you finally stretch your appreciation levels. By season’s end, you love Ralph as much as everyone else might.

The Extras: Of all the DC TV shows, The Flash usually gets the best treatment as far as extras go. We’ve got deleted scenes (including some WestAllen!), bloopers, and the all-encompassing Comic-Con video… and some other great extras, including Sterling Gates and Eric Wallace with Katee Sackhoff offering commentary on Amunet (who I do enjoy more after seeing Sackhoff speaking about her, but I still don’t understand why the silly accent was a thing). There’s also a really nice feature about the Elongated Man, and all four episodes of this year’s DC TV crossover are represented.

There’s also talk about The Thinker, and as I said, I appreciate the storyline more but I still didn’t have that emotional connection with the character that I feel I needed. The other bodies thing at midseason made that all even worse.

Packaging & Art: This is one of the best looking Flash Blu-ray sets so far. Dynamic design on the box art and on the discs. I like it.

Is It Worth It? As I said, nothing will be Season 1 again, but if you’re a fan of The Flash there are a lot of extras to make this worth it. Order yours from Amazon.com at a discounted rate and support this website!

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