The Complete Series
Review by Michael Jacobson
John Wesley Shipp, Amanda Pays, Alex Desert
Audio: Dolby Stereo
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Length: 1088 Minutes
Release Date: January 10, 2006
you ever need me...I'll be there in a flash."
wasn't much of a comic book reader as a kid, but one I used to frequent was The
Flash. I don't really know what
it was about DC Comics' red-clad speedster that appealed to me...maybe it was
just because I was the slowest kid in school and always lost every race.
1990, on the heels of the super-successful Batman film, Warner brought The
Flash to life on the small screen. It
only lasted one season, and that's too bad...it was actually a good show.
The characters were solid, the storylines entertaining, and there was
enough chemistry and spirit to make up for a couple of flaws (the effects
weren't always convincing, and The Flash boasted a costume so bad he looks like
he was kicked out of Studio 54 for being TOO flamboyant).
two hour pilot gave us the origin: Barry
Allen (Shipp), a mild mannered forensic analyst for the Central City police,
suffers a jolt from a bolt of lightning while in the lab.
He gets zapped and sprayed with chemicals at the same time.
Soon, he begins to notice strange things about himself.
Like, for example, how he can run 30 miles in a matter of seconds.
He can even skim across water so quickly he doesn't break the surface
attracts the attention of a beautiful scientist from Star Labs, Tina McGee
(Pays). She befriends Barry,
maintains his secret, and keeps an eye on him for possible danger signs from his
new high metabolism. The only side
effect seems to be an amusing one: he
has to eat constantly. I thought I
could put away food, but not even I can do three large pizzas in one setting!
learn that Barry comes from a family of cops.
His father, played by M. Emmett Walsh, never could see what Barry does
for a living as "real" police work.
His brother Jay, a street cop, understands him more.
But when a renegade motorcycle gang wreaks havoc on Central City and
kills Jay, Barry learns what he must do with his newfound power.
He becomes The Flash, a supersonic superhero faster than bullets and a
terrifying blur to all who would commit evil.
six disc set contains all 22 original episodes from what would be its first and
only season. I remembered the show
from its run, but I was still surprised and delighted to remember how much fun
the show actually was. The
chemistry between Barry and Tina was a seminal glue, and a frustrating one.
The audience could see how much they needed to be together, but dammit,
they never figured it out for themselves. When
the plug was pulled after one year, the chance was forever gone.
well. There are still plenty of
gems to be had here...in fact, The Flash was more solid and consistent
than a lot of shows in their first years that went on to long and productive
broadcast lives. Four of my
favorites involved recurring characters. One
was a good guy; a masked hero from the 50s known as Nightshade, who comes out of
retirement when an old nemesis unfreezes himself in 1990 in "Ghost in the
Machine". He comes back in
"Deadly Nightshade", when a new vigilante with a taste for death
follows in his footsteps. Nightshade
was a terrific character, and made a good mentor for Barry when he needed one
most. "Just because you put on
the mask," he tells The Flash, "doesn't mean you become a different
other character was a villain, the brash and eccentric Trickster (played
delightfully by Mark Hamill). His
arsenal of deadly jokes terrorizes Central City and The Flash in "The
Trickster", and he returns for more mayhem in the finale "The Trial of
the year's best episode was "Beat the Clock"...long before 24, this
episode offered a plot that unfolded in real time, as The Flash and friends have
one hour to save an innocent jazz musician from execution.
This one is truly tight and suspenseful, and even features appearances by
Angela Bassett and Dawn of the Dead's Ken Foree!
there are other memorable episodes as well.
In "Fast Forward", a missile blast sends The Flash into the
future, where Central City has become a slum of crime under the vicious rule of
an old nemesis. And the explosion
also robs Barry of his powers. Can
he get back in time, find his speed again, and prevent the crime wave that would
destroy his town? With a little
help from his friends, anything is possible!
Is That You?" sends our pretty female scientist into a nightmare of split
personality, as a brain wave transfer gone wrong turns her into The Flash's new
enemy. And speaking of duality, how
about "Twin Streaks", where a misguided scientist clones Barry and
creates a child-like, uncontrollable version of The Flash?
Cold" gives us a creepy villain that could give Mr. Freeze a run for his
money, while "Honor Among Thieves" features a plot to capture a rare
artifact from a museum. In it, the
bad guys time crimes to go off all over town at the same time...just how fast is
Wesley Shipp makes for an amiable and handsome presence as both Barry and The
Flash. There's a Peter Parker-like
quality to him in that just because he becomes super, it doesn't mean the end of
his problems. In fact, for the most
part, it's just the beginning of them. Thank
goodness he lost the poofy hair after the pilot.
I guess the 80s called and said they wanted their hairstyle back.
Pays, with her sweet face and charming British accent, was the perfect Tina
McGee. Behind every good man is a
woman, and it's hard to imagine how The Flash could have made it without her
devotion and dutiful support.
shows meet unmerited and untimely early demises. The Flash didn't run for long, and that's a shame.
It had a lot going for it. Watching
these 22 episodes was a blast. In
fact, I never reached for my fast-forward once.
of a tough call in this department. The
pilot episode looked quite good, with very striking colors and solid detail
levels throughout. But many of the
subsequent episodes were hit and miss. There
were moments that looked almost as good, but just as many moments where images
were a little murky and grainy. There
were more than a few shots that looked artificially blown up, greatly enhancing
the grain, and some shows exhibited some spots and scars here and there from
age. Overall, it works, but
definitely a wide-swinging pendulum here.
audio has the reverse problem...the pilot has music beds that are quite loud,
and the dialogue is mixed low and flat in comparison. But this gets corrected as the shows progress so that
everything flows together more naturally and with fewer flaws.