Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Tale of Two Flashes - DVD reviews

The Flash: The Complete Series [DVD Flash]
Though the televised adventures of The Flash are perhaps better known for the version currently airing on The CW network, true fans are also familiar with the earlier version of The Flash, which aired for a single season in 1990-91 on CBS. John Wesley Shipp played Barry Allen, a Central City police forensics scientist, who develops super-speed powers after getting hit by lighting and doused in an exotic mix of chemicals in his police lab. Confused and uncertain how to handle his new-found super-human abilities, Allen confides in both Julio Mendez (his fellow scientist in the police lab), and Dr. Tina McGee, a scientist at Star Labs (and ultimately a romantic interest for Barry).

Shipp’s costume as The Flash was considerably different from the costume that has appeared in the more recent series — he appears to be much larger, and has a “pumped up” physique while in costume. This version of the show is very cartoony, and the “speed effects” as The Flash is running or making other high-speed actions, are a little clunky. But the writing was fun — there were a lot of very entertaining stories, bringing many of the iconic “rogue’s gallery” of Flash villains from the comic books to the screen. A lot of the bad guys had a very “noirish” feel to them, and primary colors abounded. I’m surprised that fight sequences didn’t use super-imposed sound-effects balloons like the old Batman sitcom!

None-the-less, for the time period in which this original Flash series was developed — following Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman and Lou Ferrigno’s Incredible Hulk, but preceding more recent serious takes on comic book icons like Smallville and Arrow — this an admirable effort. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re a fan of the newer version and have never even heard of this original. Find it and sample it!

[This series is not actually available from the libraries directly in our own collection. I recommend tracking it down via our InterLibrary Loan service.]
[ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ The Flash episode guide at ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

The Flash: Season One [soon to be in the libraries’ collection] [DVD Flash] 

The 2014-15 television season saw the introduction of a new television version of The Flash, the iconic DC comic book hero first introduced in 1940. This series features the second iteration of that character, Barry Allen, who was featured in the comic from 1956-1958 and again from 2008 to the present. Capitalizing on the popularity of their other superhero-based series, Arrow, the CW network introduced Barry Allen during a second season episode of Arrow, and spun him off into his own series while Arrow was enjoying its third season. Grant Gustin is police forensic investigator Barry Allen, who is exposed to a combination of lightning strike and chemical spill, all while a particle accelerator accident in his hometown of Central City is bathing the city in unknown energies. After being in a coma for 9 months, Allen awakens to soon discover that he has the ability to move at superspeed. Seeking help to understand this change, Allen is soon mentored by Dr. Harrison Wells, creator of the failed particle accelerator, and two of the scientists working with the disgraced scientist, Dr. Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon. The first season of the show also features Joe West, Allen’s police officer stepfather, and Joe’s daughter, Iris, the woman Barry’s secretly loved for years.
Storylines in this first season have ranged from standard police procedurals, with Barry aiding law enforcement with his superspeed, to wild-and-crazy science fiction and fantasy, as other individuals with superpowers (Metahumans) begin to emerge…some benevolent, but many who are becoming supervillains. Barry, who has been driven to prove his father innocent of his mother’s murder when he was a pre-teen, has an inherent need to do good, and his heroic crime-fighting comes naturally. There’s a lot of humor in this show, particularly whenever scientist Cisco appears, but there is also a lot of emotional angst. The cast is marvelous, and the special effects (both Barry Allen’s speed-enhanced actions and everything else) is top-notch.

I particularly love the fact that Barry’s imprisoned father is played (in several episodes) by John Wesley Shipp, who played Barry Allen/The Flash in the earlier 1990-91 version of The Flash on CBS. There was even an episode in season one of the new Flash that guest-starred Mark “Star Wars” Hamill as the villainous Trickster — a role he had played 24 years earlier on the original version of The Flash. This is a high-gloss, take-itself-serious version of The Flash, but with a good sense of humor. The second season starts this month on the CW network — but you can get familiar with it in this season one DVD set!

[If you like this, you may also wish to sample Arrow, the other CW superhero show, set in the same continuity as The Flash — in fact, they’ve crossed over with each other more than once so far!] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ official The Flash (2014) web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you seen this? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

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