When I first watched The Flash pilot “City of Heroes” at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con, I thought that “while there’s no denying it’s a CW show and at times it comes across like Central City 90210 with its many good-looking actors and melodramatic moments, there’s a lot to like about the series.” After going through the Complete First Season on Blu-ray, my assessment remains the same.
Spun off from Arrow, the series presents the adventures of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), an assistant forensic scientist for the Central City Police Department, where his adoptive father, Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), works. Joe met a young Barry years ago the night an inexplicable electrical storm of some sort took place in his home, which left his mother dead and his father jailed for the crime. Over the course of the season, Barry strives to prove his father’s (John Wesley Shipp, who played Barry Allen/The Flash in the 1990 series) innocence.
A freak accident with a particle accelerator at Dr. Harrison Wells’ (Tom Cavanagh) S.T.A.R. Labs not only gives Barry his superspeed and the abilities that come with it, such as quick healing, but it affected a number of others in the city, referred to as “metahumans.” The Flash has to deal with those who use their powers for evil throughout the season and readers of The Flash comics will recognize them.
A frequent adversary of the Flash this season is Leonard Snart, not a metahuman, but a simple criminal who stumbles across a cryonic gun that was built by Cisco (Carlos Valdes), a S.T.A.R. Labs worker (and comic relief on the series) who built it to take on Barry in case he went rogue like the other metahumans.
The season has a story arc that runs through it. In the “Pilot,” it is revealed Dr. Wells is pretending to be a paraplegic and has access to a newspaper from the future. As the season progresses, Wells’ plan and his secrets are slowly revealed, leading to a dramatic conclusion in the season finale that ends the series on a cliffhanger.
The series writing team did a great job making this fantasy world so believable. The main reason is because they created realistic characters that act in believable ways. Barry being able to deal with a man who controls the weather easier than his own feelings for Iris (Candice Patton), his best friend/adopted sister, makes him a character to which viewers can relate. Gutsin’s performance, as well as the rest of the cast, also helps to flesh out the characters. They even fit Grodd in, which was no easy feat because incorporating an intelligent gorilla could easily have made the show’s tone too silly and yet it works.
In addition, the plots are interesting as Barry and the S.T.A.R. labs team frequently use their intelligence in combination with the Flash’s powers to defeat the villains. The finale has a great portion of the story about Barry deciding whether or not he should save his mother, a difficult question for anyone. However, I was left with a major question about the resolution of the episode/season because the writers seem to be (conveniently) inconsistent in the way time is supposed to work. Although there is a possibility that the story hasn’t fully resolved yet and may do so in the following season, which begins on October 6.
The Flash also gets to fight, and the special effects team deserves a lot of credit and praise for their work. One of the highlights of the season, and something many readers enjoyed in the comics is seeing the heroes battle and we get that in “Flash vs. Arrow.” There’s also a great team-up sequence in “Rogue Air.”
The Blu-ray presents 23 episodes across four discs. The video has been given a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The colors are vibrant and pop off the screen. Blacks are inky and shadow delineation is great. Detail is sharp and most of the effects blend into the scenes seamlessly, although the intentional blur of the speedsters takes some getting used to. The audio comes in DTS-HD MA 5.1. Dialogue is always clear and the surrounds are put to good use in the action scenes. The bass delivers solid rumbling when needed,
The special features include deleted scenes from 15 episodes. Disc 1 has a commentary track on “Pilot” by executive producers Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg and DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, who developed the series together. Disc 3 has “Behind the Story: The Trickster Returns!” (HD, 9 min) where Mark Hamill talks about playing the character in previous series and in the current one. Disc 4 has “The Fastest Man Alive!: (HD, 31 min) where creators and cast members discuss the show and characters. “Creating the Blur – The VFX of The Flash (HD, 26 min) finds the VFX team members reveal how they create their magic. “Screen Test: The Chemistry of Grant and Emily” (HD, 4 min); DC Comics Night at Comic-Con 2014: Presenting Gotham, The Flash, Constantine, and Arrow (HD, 30 min); and Gag Reel (HD, 8 min) are self-explanatory. It’s too bad they didn’t include Barry’s appearances from Arrow.
While some may be turned off by the abundance of superheroes in the media, The Flash is an exciting superhero series worth checking out.