|The Fastest Logo Alive|
So I finally got around to finishing the Flash TV series. I started it months ago and slowly but surely I've been making my way through it whenever I had time to watch an episode or need to clean the apartment (I did a lot of cleaning while watching Flash). I'd have to say, after consuming the whole thing, that it was pretty good. It starts out terribly slow, which is ironic for a show about a speedster, but by the end it picks up nicely and ends on probably the best episode of the series. The main cast is great, John Wesley Shipp as Barry Allen plays the character well, I think they portray the character as too much of a ladies man however. In the comics I don't remember Barry getting around as much as John's version of Barry does and Amanda Pays is quite enjoyable as the British scientist from S.T.A.R. Labs who initially shows up to help Barry control his powers. That's pretty much the duo we spend the most time with. Alex Desert plays Barry's lab partner but for the most part he's given a pretty one dimensional role (the other guy who also has relationship problems). All of the supporting cast characters are fun to watch and bring something to the table.
What I find this reminds me of the most is it's kind of like a proto-Arrow. They try and take this fantastical character and ground him in a more realistic world, they make changes to the villains to allow them to function in that world, as well as making them more interesting and they try to make it about people as much as it about the comic. The Flash is definitely more comic booky in it's world, in it's color palate in it's tone and it occasionally dips into melodrama (something John Shipp does well due to his background in soap opera's) but it tries a lot of the same things Arrow tries to do but with a much more light-hearted tone.
It's better when taken as a series because some of the individual episodes can really drag. They weren't afraid to take chances though, Amanda Pays get's to be evil for an episode and stretch her character in that way. It's one of the better episodes but made frustrating in that she becomes a terrible human being and receives no consequences for it and the end of the episode nor is it ever referenced again. We get a Reverse Flash that's really more Bizarro than Professor Zoom but it makes for a more compelling story. In it they grow a mentally challenged Flash who looks exactly like Barry Allen and I thought "Well they know Flash's secret identity now, why not just blackmail him or something." then I realized that Barry is just a dude, how would they know who he is. But as I type that I also realize that he's in the news an awful lot so they really should have known who they cloned. Anyway, that is also a highlight episode. Captain Cold makes an appearance as a hitman and I have to say I really liked how they changed the villain. They introduce the villain The Ghost and he provides a pair of great episodes. They also introduce Nightshade, Central City's previous protector and he provides some great character moments as well. John Shipp gets to stretch the most but Amanda Pays and Alex Desert do get an episode or two a piece where they get to stretch their characters and they all do a great job at it.
The biggest highlight though is Trickster played by Mark Hammil. He's in two episodes and he makes the series if you ask me. This is before his role as the Joker and you can really see a lot of the Joker in his performance. It's different enough that you don't feel you're watching Mark Hammil play the Joker (Trickster is way more manic and less focused) but you can see a foundation being built. Then in his second appearance we are introduced to Prank, the Tricksters blonde female sidekick. This is totally where Joker and Harley come from. Trickster is meaner to Prank than Joker is to Harley but it's basically the same thing. Which, I find that stuff fun to watch, the prototype of something great. To me it just enhances the version that got it so right.
I'd say if you got the money (like most of this stuff it was super cheap on Amazon), I'd check it out. I'm not the biggest Flash fan in the world but I do have fond childhood memories of reading the Wally West Flash but Barry was never really the Flash I was most familiar with. There are things that are definitely dated about the show. The special effects for one thing, a lot of it is practical because this was a little before CGI became a normal thing, and the practical effects are great but when it comes to video effects, the super speed in particular, then quality nose dives. Super speed, I've come to the conclusion, is just really hard to do because I've never seen it done well. Even the animated JLA series had problems with showing super speed. So far the best portrayal I've seen has been in the Mortal Kombat vs DC game (review to come). But if you can forgive the somewhat dated visuals then it's worth sitting through the whole series, which happens to only be 1 season.