Central City forensic investigator Barry Allen is, always charming and - as a result of a scientific experiment gone awry - now the fastest man alive! He's The Flash, zigzagging through the action-packed new series from the creative team behind Arrow and based on the supersonic DC Comics character. With his life shadowed by his mother's murder, and his father wrongly convicted of the crime, Barry finds that his newfound power of super speed grants him the ability to move through Central City like an unseen guardian angel. Barry quickly discovers he's not the only "metahuman" created by the explosive disaster...and that not everyone is using their new powers for good. Now, to protect the innocent, Barry and his close friends who know his secret race to combat evildoers, in one astonishing adventure after another.
"Lightning gave me abs?"
Superheroes are everywhere these days. Ever since the boom began in the late 90s, the machine has only gained steam with shared universes covering both major comic book studios DC with Warner Brothers and Marvel over at Disney. Marvel may be the current reigning king of multiplexes, but DC is dominating the broadcast airwaves with successful seasons of 'Arrow,' the upcoming 'Supergirl' and 'Legends of Tomorrow', as well as a show catering to the fastest man alive - 'The Flash.' In an age of brooding musclebound meatheads, 'The Flash' is a joyful breath of fresh air in a crowded comic book entertainment landscape.
Life for Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) is rolling along at a pretty good clip. He's got a safe and secure job as a forensic scientist with the Central City P.D. where he gets to work alongside the man who took care of him all his life Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin). When Barry was just a small boy he witnessed his mother being murdered in their home as a dizzying flurry of red and yellow lightning flashed and spun all around them. One second young Barry is about to reach out for his mother's hand, the next he's half a dozen blocks away. By the time he gets home, the police are on the scene, his father Henry (John Wesley Shipp of the original TV show 'The Flash' from 1990) is being arrested and Barry's mother is laying dead on their living room floor. The events of this day have haunted Barry all of his life. He never believed that his father was responsible, even though no one at the CCPD believed him. Even Joe's daughter and Barry's secret one true love Iris (Candice Patton) has her doubts about his wild theories. While Barry tries to keep his ideas grounded in some sense of reality, his entire world is about to be turned upside down by a blast of lightning.
On the night the S.T.A.R. Labs gigantic super collider is to be turned on by the resident genius Dr. Wells (Tom Cavanagh), something goes horribly wrong. When the containment system ruptures and the unleashed energy seeds a storm cloud, a massive bolt of lightning crashes into Barry's lab and hits him directly. Miraculously Barry survived the hit but the surge in energy put him in a coma for 9 months. Awaking suddenly, Barry learns he's been under the care of Dr. Wells and his two assistants Dr. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and the brilliant electronics engineer Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes). Even though they try to tell him everything that has happened and try to explain how he can be in improved physical condition after being unconscious for 9 months, Barry only has one person on his mind - Iris. But as he runs to see her, something strange starts to happen; the world begins to move a bit slower.
With help from Dr. Wells and his colleagues, Barry comes to learn that the world isn't moving slower, he's just moving faster. A lot faster. So fast that when he pushes himself he can break the sound barrier. With the super collider blast and subsequent lightning bolt being the cause for Barry's newly discovered powers, it becomes apparent that Barry wasn't the only person affected by the blast. As new Metahumans like Barry start popping up all over Central City, the need for a new breed of hero arises. The city is going to need someone with the scientific mind, skills, and even the speed to stop these super-powered people before they cause any harm to the city. Borrowing an experimental frictionless suit from S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry becomes the hero the city desperately needs, he becomes the crimson speedster, the fastest man alive - The Flash.
Being The Flash will carry a great burden of responsibility. Not only will Barry have to save the city from bad guys like Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and his right hand man Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell), a gigantic telepathic gorilla called Grodd, and the power-hungry General Eiling (Clancy Brown), but Barry will also have to face his greatest fear, the man in yellow, the one responsible for his mother's death, the evil Reverse-Flash. In order to save the day, The Flash will have to turn to heroes like The Arrow (Stephen Amell), Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), as well as newcomer The Atom (Brandon Routh) to take down some of Central City's toughest criminals. But when it comes to facing the true identity of Reverse-Flash, The Flash will have to confront his feelings for Iris, the desire to free his imprisoned father, and break beyond the belief of his own limitations if he hopes to survive - let alone save Central City.
I'll just be flat out honest and say that I loved 'The Flash' from minute one all the way through to the big climactic death-defying cliffhanger finale. I'm always hesitant to jump into any TV show - especially a comic book show - because of the time commitment that they take. Hour-long episodes eat up a lot of valuable time so I usually wait for the first season to finish and the second has already started before I play a fast game of catch-up with a series. I want to know the time I pull out of my day to watch something is going to be worth it. 'The Flash' is absolutely worth every minute of the time you put into it. At 22 episodes, I was worried there would be entirely too much filler and bloat, but I couldn't find a single episode that didn't at least bring something worthwhile to the table. Sure, there are the routine "Metahuman-of-the-week" episodes where The Flash and friends do battle with a random baddie from his Rogues Gallery, but even those episodes offer something to the dramatic narrative of Barry trying to figure out the identity of his mother's murderer.
The show's light tone is what makes 'The Flash' so much fun. It's serious without being brooding and depressing, it's silly without being idiotic, and it has a wonderful sense of self at all times. 'The Flash' knows what it is and embraces its comic book nature wholeheartedly while also being accessible to people that didn't read the comics. I was never much of a fan of The Flash growing up as a kid. I was always a Superman and Batman kid, but I dug the guy's suit and abilities so whenever he made a crossover appearance it was always a good bit of fun. That same bit of fun comes through here. When Arrow or The Atom pop by for a visit, all of a sudden the comic book elements of the show begin to shine. All of a sudden the universe 'The Flash' occupies feels a lot bigger without it feeling like it is a part of some forced narrative structure like some of the cinematic comic book offerings of late. 'The Flash' feels like its own beast while also feeling like it's offering something to other shows.
'The Flash' wouldn't be anything if it wasn't for this great cast. Grant Gustin is absolutely Barry Allen, through and through. This is important because The Flash wouldn't be the superhero he is if he wasn't nerdy and socially awkward Barry Allen underneath. So the first time Grant dons the red suit with a yellow bolt of lightning on his chest, he is The Flash. It doesn't feel faked or forced or cliched in any way.
To that end, Grant Gustin wouldn't make a great Barry Allen if he didn't have such an incredible supporting cast of characters. Candice Patton's Iris West is a lot of fun - even if their character's romantic arc feels a bit "Ross and Rachael." Jesse L. Martin does a great job as Detective West and Barry's pseudo stepfather and the man brings a lot of dramatic weight to the show. Serving well to that same effect is John Wesley Shipp as the incarcerated Henry Allen. He may be behind bars, but he and Grant Gustin share a pleasing father/son bond that serves to push much of the story forward. It's also a lot of fun to see Shipp back on TV in a show that he helped create 25 years ago. Then you have Tom Cavanagh as Dr. Wells, a man you don't quite ever feel 100% safe being in the room with, even though he is dedicated to helping Barry improve himself and reach his potential as a hero. 'The Flash' also wouldn't be much fun without Danielle Panabaker's Dr. Snow who provides a lot of TV-Science to help explain things just enough to be believable while Carlos Valdes' Cisco Ramon is there to be the comic nerd in all of us who says what the audience is thinking and make appropriate references to other comics and movies. All around this cast is a delight and I can't wait to see more from them.
While the show is content with being its own self-contained item, it makes great strides to be a part of a larger whole. With the mentioned cameos from other heroes as well as appearances by genre veterans like Mark Hamill reprising his role as The Trickster from 25 years earlier, 'The Flash' feels like it has a lot of dramatic territory to travel while also letting this season stand on its own. Had this show not gotten renewed for a second season, it's big final moment - while being a cliffhanger - is also the perfect finishing moment for the series. Thankfully 'The Flash' was a ratings smash and Season 2 is set to premiere in just a couple of weeks. This is a show I want to see more of. if the creative team can keep the energy up while maintaining the fun and excitement, 'The Flash' should have some strong legs keeping it going. If you were on the fence about this one, it's time to climb off and start watching.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The Flash' The Complete First Season arrives on Blu-ray thanks to Warner Brothers. Pressed on four BD50 discs, each disc opens directly to their respective main menus with traditional navigational options. Extra features are parceled out over the four discs. Housed in a four-disc case with slip cover, the set also comes with an Ultraviolet Digital HD voucher as well as a booklet with episode guide.
I am glad to say that the producers behind 'The Flash' did not skimp on production design or on the special effects budgets and everything on screen comes through in vivid glory with this 1.78:1 1080p presentation. Detail levels are absolutely flawless allowing the viewer to fully appreciate the intricate costuming, the meticulous makeup of Barry's laboratory, as well as facial features and makeup effects. Thankfully the show didn't undercook the CGI as most effects blend into the image seamlessly and, with the exception of a couple occasions, the effects never look out of place. Colors are bright and furious as primaries get plenty of pop - especially reds and yellows. Flesh tones are rock solid as everyone in the cast looks healthy. Black levels for each episode are very strong and offers up a welcome sense of three-dimensional depth. Where the show gets a slight hit is when the scenes take place late at night, some crush creeps in during these sparse few scenes and can have a little bit of a flattening effect to the image. Otherwise, I am happy to report that 'The Flash' makes a wonderful HD debut with this Blu-ray set.
Just as impressive as the video presentation for 'The Flash' are the bombastically wonderful English DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio tracks. The show had a fantastic sense of balance and tone throughout the entire run knowing when to speed things up and fill a scene with tons of action and when to tap the brakes and let some earnest character beats creep in and the audio fidelity for each episode captures these moments perfectly. To that end, imaging is the real stand out here. While dialogue is crisp and clean and easily heard at all times, the surround channels are constantly engaged and offer a lot to hear. Dialogue, ambients and sound effects, as well as the awesome action score from composer Blake Neely have plenty of space to occupy the channels without any distortion or problematic overlapping. As the audio tracks, for the most part, keep to the midranges, the levels are perfectly balanced and I never had the need to adjust my volume to compensate for any sudden spikes or lulls. If anything you're probably going to want to keep the volume up because the show is so much fun, you want to hear every audio effect you can!
Pilot Episode Audio Commentary: Producers Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, and Geoff Johns discuss the genesis of the pilot episode and how the show came together - in addition to covering how Geoff Johns brought Barry Allen back to comics after he died during the "Crisis" storyline in the 1980s. It's a great commentary and if you're a comics fan it's nice to hear how much everyone involved cares about the show.
Deleted Scenes: (HD 5:15) A good collection of deleted materials, particularly for the pilot episode where you can see the creators trying to work in references to other DC superheroes
Deleted Scenes: (HD 7:43) Pretty routine deleted material, some more exposition moments, some scenes actually give a bit too much of the plot away covering events that that come back later in the show so it's a good thing some of these scenes were cut out.
Behind The Story: The Trickster Returns! : (HD 8:39) Mark Hamill offers a great look back at the character he played 20 years ago on the original 'Flash' TV show and bringing it back again as well as the character's roots in literature. It's a nice featurette for one of the best episodes of the show.
Deleted Scenes: (HD 8:01) Some pretty standard deleted scenes, some nice character moments that didn't really advance the plot.
The Fastest Man Alive: (HD 30:39) The cast and creative team talk about their inspirations for the storyline from the comic books and how various character arcs worked their way into the show.
Creating The Blur - the VFX of The Flash: (HD 26:25) An in-depth look at what went into the massive number of effects shots for each episode and how they're able to achieve the quality work they do on a tight deadline.
The Chemistry of Emily and Grant Screen Test: (HD 4:20) This featurette covers a lot of the material that lead to Grant's casting for his cameo appearance as Barry Allen on 'Arrow' which ultimately lead to 'The Flash' series.
DC Comics Night at Comic-Con 2014: (HD 29:31) Cast and crew from 'Arrow,' 'Gotham,' 'The Flash,' and 'Constantine' all on stage talking about their respective shows and how they're interconnected, the material that inspired them.
Gag Reel: (HD 8:24) a pretty great collection of screw-ups and flubbed lines. The highlight is the performer in the Grodd motion capture suit.
Deleted Scenes: (HD 13:28) A collection of deleted scenes for the episodes featured on this disc, the final episode offers the most cut footage, but none of the material is exactly earth shattering, but it's still fun.
There are times I hate good TV shows. You get hooked on the story, you love following the characters, and then you have to wait each week for the next episode to come out - it's torture. 'The Flash' The Complete First Season is just that sort of dastardly diabolically awesome show. From the first episode to the last I was hooked. Grant Gustin is The Flash and he, along with the rest of the amazing cast and talented production team bring together an incredible show that just so happens to be based on a comic book. Sign me up for Season 2 because this was an insane ride. With an incredible A/V presentation and a mountain of informative extras, I'm calling this one highly recommended.