HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Flash: The Complete First Season
HTS Overall Score:87
I make no bones about the fact that I find “Arrow” to be one of the best CW shows in years. I disliked “Smallville” immensely due to a myriad of reasons, but “Arrow” restored my faith in their superhero directions once more. For those of you who watched season 2 of “Arrow” there was a little nerd moment part way through when a young forensic scientist for Central City shows up to give the Arrow a bit of help. The minute the name “Barry Allen” was uttered I wiggled in glee at the cameo of one of DC’s greatest superheroes, The Flash. Little did I know, but this little cameo was actually the precursor to the CW creating a spinoff show about “The Flash”. After having watched 2 seasons of “Arrow” and being very enthused with the outcome, I was more than happy to give this little spinoff a chance, especially considering that the powers that be and creative staff for “Arrow” would be behind “The Flash”. While I had solid expectations going into the pilot, I was left speechless at what transpired.
When we left Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) in season 2 of “Arrow” he had returned to Central City and subsequently blasted by a bolt of lightning created by a particle accelerator exploding. Stuck in a coma for nine months, Barry awakens to find out that things have changed for him a little. Suddenly he’s stumbling across new powers, moving from place to the next with astonishing speed. Too scared to tell anyone about it, he’s approached by Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), head scientist at STAR labs. The very same scientist who oversaw the particle reactor and its subsequent explosion. Trusting himself to Dr. Wells and his team of misfit scientists (Caitlin Snow, played by Danielle Panabaker, and Cisco, played by Carlos Valdes). Training under Dr. Wells allows Barry to slowly realize his potential, and as with most people imbued with great power, he realizes that this great power comes with great responsibility (yes I’m using phrases from another comic). Using his powers for good, and camouflaged with a specialty suit meant for fire fighters, The “Red Streak” is born.
Now, what comic book infused series doesn’t come with some drama and complications? Barry is driving by something he saw as a child. Something that makes sense now that he was older. His father (played by John Wesley Shipp…the very same man who played the Flash in the 1990’s series) is in jail for supposedly killing Barry’s mother. The thing is, Barry saw something that shouldn’t have been. A blur of energy that resembles his very own super speed. Before this moment when he became the Flash, he had just chalked it up to a mystery, but now the truth is known. Barry is not the ONLY speedster in the universe, there is another out there. A Yellow Flash and Barry is bound and determined to uncover the identity of this man, if he’s still alive.
The show is infinitely more complex than what I’ve described above. Barry is bound and determined to find the Yellow Flash, but more importantly, he has to come to grips with his own powers and how he interacts with the people around him. After Barry’s father went to prison, he was transferred over to Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), who not only has become the surrogate father of the young boy, but inspired Barry to join the Central City PD as a forensic scientist. To complicate matters further, Barry is in love with Joe’s daughter Iris (Candice Patton), only to watch as his chances get ever slimmer the older they get. Dealing with his new powers is one thing, but dealing with PEOPLE who are normal is another story. Barry is infused with this power, this great secret that he bears (along with about a dozen other people by the end of the season), and now he finds himself on a different ground than these people.
What makes “The Flash” more unique than say, “Arrow”, despite being in the same universe, is the fact that Barry is not the ONLY one affected by the particle accelerator. The blast that turned him super, also affected dozens, if not hundreds of other people in the blast radius, turning them into “metahumans” as the show coin s it. Some of these people are good, but sometimes power corrupts, and less kind people become a bit worse now that they have power. This opens up the floodgates for a bunch of classic villains. We get to see Captain Cold, Heatwave, Firestorm (who’s more of a semi good/bad character), The Pied Piper, The Clock King, The Trickster (actually two tricksters, as Mark Hamill reprises his role from the 90’s series in a cool little nod to that character), and even Gorilla Grodd. Yes, you heard that right, the giant telepathic gorilla makes an appearance and he is made of pure AWESOME! The main villain is actually revealed early on, and even WHO the villain’s non super persona is revealed as well. It’s so blatantly early that I almost second guessed the writers, thinking they were going for a fake out, but it becomes apparent later on that it’s not his identity that is the big twist, but something they do later on in the show that makes him such an awesome character. For anyone who keeps up with “The Flash” you already know who he is from the minute you see the yellow blur, but for those uninitiated it is one of his greatest nemesis, Reverse Flash. Reverse takes up a great portion of the series, as he’s the object of Barry’s obsession, but there is more than enough time to flesh out the other villains, all the while letting Reverse Flash be the focus of the series. Being that this is a shared Universe with “Arrow” you can bet your short socks that Oliver Queen and crew make a few crossover appearances (and so does Barry in “Arrow Season 3” as well).
What really makes the show shine is the characters. The actors nailed their roles perfectly, with Grant Gustin being that perfect mix of nerdy and noble. Able to switch at will from an awkward young man with poor social skills (especially around Iris), to a determined and capable crime fighter at the drop of the hat. The relationship between Joe West and Barry is actually the most important of the show, highlighting just how far Barry has come and the love that father has for his child. Even if that father is not biological. Dr. Caitlin Snow and Cisco act as the perfect sidekicks for Barry and Dr. Wells. Caitlin is cute and affable, but with her own nerdy side, always the cautious one. Cisco is basically a walking talking comic nerd, spouting Star Wars and Firefly quotes while he comes up with goofy names for the metahuman villains they capture. The minute I heard their names I knew their respective fates, and thankfully the powers that be have confirmed that both Cisco and Caitlin will be expounded upon in season 2. Last but not least, we have Dr. Harrison Wells. Tom Cavanagh as Wells is so spot on that I desperately miss his character for season 2. He forms a relationship with Barry that is almost symbiotic, with each learning from each other and taking on a few of the other person’s qualities. I won’t go into too much detail on this due to the spoiler nature of the character, but suffice to say he is mesmerizing on screen.
Now on to the bad. Even though the show is nearly perfect, it is just that. NEARLY perfect. Every 23 episode series has some filler, and this one is no different. There are a few episodes which really stand out as out of place, and almost slowing down for a few weeks during the middle of the show. This isn’t a major issue, but still, just a slight annoyance. The REALLY big flaw comes from the fact that there is ALWAYS one character on CW show that you hate with a living passion due to poor writing. In this case it would be Iris West. At first she’s solid, but as they develop her character it’s obvious they wrote her as annoying as possible to create friction between her and Barry. The end result is a character that you so desperately despise that there are entire forums online dedicated to their hatred of Iris. I know I had a brain aneurism yelling at the screen in the latter half of the series just because of that woman. Again, not a big deal, as the series is fantastic, but Iris is written so poorly that you wish the Reverse Flash actually takes her out.
The episode rundown:
Fastest Man Alive
Things You Can't Outrun
The Flash Is Born
Flash vs. Arrow
The Man in the Yellow Suit
Revenge of the Rougues
The Sound and the Fury
Crazy For You
The Nuclear Man
Out of Time
All Star Team Up
Who Is Harrison Wells
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=53970[/img]As with most new Warner Brother’s releases, we have a fantastic home video release for “The Flash” on Blu-ray. The series was shot digitally and looks simply fantastic as it’s spread across 4 BD-50 discs with more than a few special features to keep the encodes company. The series is a lot more colorful than “Arrow”, standing out as being a daylight show (since he doesn’t skulk around in a hood at night), and just sparkles on Blu-ray. The colors saturation is rich and vivid, with plenty of pop in the image. Contrast levels are very nice and the color grading is a nice natural tone, with no real push to any particular color in the spectrum. The bright lightning bolts of energy that follow the speedster shines with color and the limited dark scenes looks impeccable. Shadow detail is strong and there no pertinent artifacting to speak of. Fine detail is amazing across the board, showing every detail of the super suit to the daily little details like the scratches on an end table, or the dirt on someone’s hands. Superb and well worthy of the high praise, the great video is just another feather in the series cap.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=53978[/img]Not to be left out, “The Flash” is packed with a rocking 5.1 DTS-HD MA track that really pushes the boundaries for most TV shows. Extremely active and full of power, the auditory” experience is greatly enhanced by an audio track that isn’t satisfied with just being a front heavy little boy and roars with the power of a full on super hero itself. The surrounds are constantly active with the fisticuffs and even plenty of city traffic and bustle to satisfy even the most retentive of audiophiles. LFE is powerful and adds some serious weight to the track, really rocking when the fights get going and the roar of rushing wind that follows in Barry's wake.. The dialogue is clean and clear and locked into those front three speakers quite well. There’s some nice directionality to the track accompanied with some very well done panning moments. Not many TV shows get near reference quality audio, but the CW has managed to really bring a winner to the table here.
• Behind the Story: The Trickster Returns!
• The Fastest Man Alive!
• Creating the Blur - the VFX of The Flash
• Screen Test: The Chemistry of Grant and Emily
• DC Comics Night at Comic-Con 2014: Presenting Gotham, The Flash, Constantine and Arrow
• Pilot Commentary
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
I’m still amazed at how “The Flash” hit the ground running so fast (pun intended). “Arrow” started up really well, but then amped up BIG TIME for season two, but “The Flash” actually matched season 2 of “Arrow” blow for blow. I used to say that “Arrow” was my favorite CW show, but “The Flash” has proudly taken that mantle from it (albeit only by a hairs breadth) and my anticipation of Season 2 and the introduction of the multiverse has kept me chomping at the bit for months. Let’s just say that October 6th is highly anticipated in my house. Audio and video are incredible, matching the amazing production values that “Arrow” has had, and the extras are more than substantial. If you even remotely like “Arrow”, then you owe it to yourself to check out “The Flash”. DEFINITELY recommended.
Starring: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Tom Cavanagh
Created by: Andrew Kreisberg, Greg Berlanti, Geoff Johns
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DD 2.0
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 968 minutes
Own it on Blu-ray™ Combo, DVD & Digital HD September 22nd
Buy The Flash: The Complete First Season Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It!
More about Mike