Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer.
The Flash is by far my favorite of the CW superhero shows. I’m not alone in this as it routinely beats all the other super shows in ratings. For good reason too, it's action packed, has a great cast of characters, it generally nails its tone of lighthearted action adventure with a dash of romance, and is a joy to watch.
Grant Gustin brings an innocence to Barry Allen/the Flash, along with a sense of honor and optimism. He’s the star and he absolutely nails it, but when he slips, he’s got a great supporting cast to carry the weight. Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) is a smart, strong, fierce feminine presence on the team. Tom Cavanaugh continues to do a wonderful job playing the many different versions of Harrison Wells (or H.R. as he’s known this season) from different Earths. My favorite is Cisco (Carlos Valdes), the tech geek who brings much of the show's comedy and pop-culture references. Joe (Jesse L. Martin) is the heart and soul of the show who acts as a father figure to the team. I’m less enthused with Iris (Candice Patton) who the show struggles to give anything of value (other than love interest) for her to do. This season brought in even more regulars, something we’ll get to in a moment.
Where Arrow tends to be dark and brooding, The Flash is full of light and joy. It still finds ways to be serious when it needs to be. It can find the weight of a story and make us feel it. There’s lots of great action and plenty of fan service for the comic readers and nerd service dropping pop culture references readily. It brings in plenty of romance as well to help those who are perhaps less enthused with dudes in silly costumes.
It's not a perfect show, and many of the faults that felt like lesser ones, that were hidden under its super-fun cover started to come out in Season Three. By this point, the show has found its rhythm. Each season has a Big Bad who the team struggles to defeat throughout the season. He is always a mask-wearing Speedster and is always someone close to them, revealed towards the end of the season. Each individual episode has its own villain who is defeated by episode's end.
This is nothing new, this type of show has had this design since at least Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it is starting to wear a little thin. They need to find something original to do with the Big Bad next season. Make him not a speedster, make him (or her for that matter) not be someone the team already knows.
The romances are getting out of hand as well. I get that you need a love story in these things to draw a different audience. I’m down with the whole Bary/Iris storyline even if the two actors have very little chemistry. But this season found nearly every major character getting in on the whole romance thing. Joe gets a girl (who is thinly developed and is forgotten about for multiple episodes at a time). Caitlyn starts a thing with Julian (Tom Felton), one of those new characters I swear we will be talking about soon. Kid Flash (Keiynan Lonsdale) hooks up with Jessie Quick (Violett Beane) - seriously, we’re gonna talk about the new guys in two sentences. Romance is great but when everyone is finding love, there is hardly enough time to develop it never mind catching sentient gorillas and speed gods.
Speaking of not having time to develop things, Season Three adds in several new characters (see, I told you I’d get to them). The most important of which is Kid Flash. His alter ego, Wally West, existed in Season Two (frankly as a less than stellar edition to the West family) but with "Flashpoint", Kid Flash enters the game as another speedster on the team. With Harrison Wells out of the picture (mostly), the team send out a complicated quiz out into the universe hoping whoever answers it will be as smart as Wells and can then replace him. The call is answered by H.R. who doesn’t have the brains but he sure is nicer. Jessie Quick is Harrison Wells' daughter (that is the Harrison Wells from Season Two - Cavanaugh simply brings it playing essentially the same character with different personalities each season). She is also a speedster who zaps over from her Earth from time to time help out. Then there is Julian, a character who didn’t exist before "Flashpoint" but now is a meta-human expert and a thorn in Barry Allen’s side.
Thing is I like all those characters, I want them to hang around. But they make the show so full that it struggles to give enough character development to each of them and still do what makes the show work so well.
I’ve spent the last several paragraphs mostly complaining. But these are minor complaints, really. The sort of thing every show struggles with as it gets older. The Flash stumbled a little bit this season but there is still plenty it got right.
I’ve hardly touched on the various plot lines happening this season. Mostly, it is the same formula. Evil Speedster plots destruction of Team Flash throughout the season while various small-time bad guys wreak havoc on individual episodes. The big move in Season Three is "Flashpoint". Wanting to save his mother, the Flash goes back in time and does exactly that. But there are consequences to his actions. The future changes and not for the better. When he goes back to the past to set things right, he returns to the present only to find he’s screwed things up even more. Cisco becomes Vibe, Wally is Kid Flash, and Caitlyn struggles to not become Killer Frost. It's a definite change to the make-up of the team and one that works really well.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about two special episodes. With Supergirl moving to The CW this year they had a big crossover series involving her, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Arrow. Aliens invade, the Flash decides he needs the whole team, yada yada yada, big cross-over here we come. Unfortunately, this set only inclludes the one episode from The Flash. I know that they want you to purchase the entire seasons of each show, but it would have been nice to have thrown in the entire Invasion storyline.The plot of Invastion was pretty weak but it was a lot of fun watching all of them interact together. It even made me want to start watching Arrow again, which is kind of amazing.
Then there was "Duet", a musical crossover with Supergirl. Music Meister (Darren Criss) puts the Whammy on Flash and Supergirl making them share a dream in which they are inside a musical gangster movie. I guess several of the actors in this episode were also in Glee but my point of reference is the musical episode of Buffy and while it doesn’t quite reach those heights, it sure was fun to watch.
Season Three was mostly more of the same. It suffered some growing pains and delighted me with song, but for the most part, it stayed on course. Though I enjoy all the other super shows on The CW (well, I did promise to give Arrow another shot) Color me completely on Team Flash.
Extras include ten new featurettes, deleted scenes, a gag reel, a Comic Con panel and a conversation between Andrew Kreisberg and Kevin Smith.