DVDSleuth.com is your source for daily Blu-ray Disc & DVD news and reviews
The Flash: The Complete First Season
Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/22/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/29/2015
When one thinks of comic books, one may picture epic battles. And yes, there is an ongoing epic battle in the world of comic books. But, it's not between a superhero and a supervillain. No, it's between the two giants of comic books, Marvel and DC. For decades, they have been slugging it out to see who can claim the most readership in the world of comics. This battle has also spilled over into other forms of media as well. Marvel has been doing very well as of late with its series of feature films, with movies like The Avengers and Captain America: Winter Soldier scoring big at the box office. While DC still tries to find its footing at the movies, they has been having some success on the small-screen, specifically with series which air on The CW. First, Arrow really took off, as did it's companion, The Flash, which we will explore as the first season has come to home video.
Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) is a fairly average guy who works as a forensic scientist for the Central City Police Department. He works closely with Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), who is also his main father figure. You see, when Barry was a child, his mother was murdered and his father, having been charged with the crime, was imprisoned. However, for all of these years, Barry has maintained that he saw someone else in the house that night. Now, a young adult, Barry tries to focus on his work and ignore the fact that he's in love with Joe's daughter, Iris (Candice Patton). One rainy night, Barry is hard at work, just as S.T.A.R. Labs is firing up their new proton accelerator. However, there is a problem with the device and it explodes, sending a shockwave of energy through the city. This blast hits Barry just as he is struck by lightning. The accident puts Barry in a coma for 9 months. When he awakens, Barry finds that he is being watched over by S.T.A.R. Labs owner Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) and his two assistants, Dr. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes). Barry also finds that he now has the ability to move incredibly fast. Wells offers to be Barry's mentor as he learns to use his new powers, mostly to fight crime. However, Barry soon realizes that their is someone else in Central City who has abilities similar to his own.
Don't ask me why, but I've always liked The Flash. I can remember watching Super Friends as a child and hoping that the latest episode would be one of the rare ones which broke away from the standard characters and featured "guest stars", such as The Flash. I even watched the short-lived 1990 live-action TV series. The question here is, why did I like The Flash? He's pretty much a one-note superhero. He can run fast...and that's about it. The writers of the comics and other things had to come up with clever ways in which super-speed could be used to fight crime.
So, is this new series able to take the limited potential of The Flash and do anything with it? Yes, yes they are. Producer Greg Berlanti, who has worked on shows going back to Dawson's Creek, has his team infuse the shows with complex, likeable characters and detailed story arcs. From the first episode, the show lays out the initial premise and then spices things up with the idea that not everyone is as they seem. From there, we watch Barry learn to control his powers as he also deals with others who were affected by the S.T.A.R. Labs explosion. In the meantime, Barry must deal with his feelings for Iris, who found herself a man while Barry was in his coma, and his determination to see his Dad (John Wesley Shipp, who played The Flash in the 1990 series) released from prison. As all of this is going on, the show slowly unravels the mystery of Barry's alter-ego, revealing some writing which dares to be complicated and challenging. Along the way, the show crosses over with Arrow on a few occasions.
The Flash must be applauded for taking a wafer-thin premise and making something out of it. However the show isn't perfect. It's decidedly episodic and many episodes get bogged down in a "villain of the week" mode. I usually prefer episodic shows, but for The Flash, I wanted it to get back to its central mystery. This causes the middle of the season to feel a bit redundant. (This may be because I watched the shows back-to-back.) Also, the romantic angle moves a bit slowly, ironically. Still, the anticipation over waiting for the entire story to be revealed is intriguing and the action scenes are often well done. The show may not appeal to those who don't like comic books, but fans will love the characters pulled directly from the DC vaults. I do have one question: How does The Flash keep from running into things?
The Flash: The Complete First Season really didn't need a Prison Break reunion on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The four-disc set contains all 23 episodes from the show's first season. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 18 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good and the image is never soft. The video rivals HD broadcast quality. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. For a TV show, I was very impressed with the stereo and surround sound presented here. The show offers ample opportunities to showcase sounds moving from side-to-side and from front-to-back and the track does a great job of highlighting them. Likewise, the subwoofer is strong and very effective.
The Flash: The Complete First Season offers several extras, spread across the four discs. Disc 1 has an AUDIO COMMENTARY on "Pilot" from Executive Producers Greg Berlanti and Andre Kreisberg and Geoff Johns of DC Comics. All four discs has a reel of DELETED SCENES from various episodes. Disc 3 provides "Behind the Story: The Trickster Returns" (9 minutes) which highlights the fact that Mark Hamill played the role in both TV series. Disc 4 kicks off with "The Fastest Man Alive" (31 minutes) which examines how this new series is linked with projects from the past. The way in which The Flash achieves his super-speed in the show is explored in "Creating the Blur - The VFX of The Flash". "The Chemistry of Emily and Grant Screen Test" (4 minutes) shows the beginnings of the flirtation between Barry and Felicity Smoak. "DC Comics Night at Comic-Con 2014 Presenting Gotham, The Flash, Constantine, and Arrow" (30 minutes) brings us the event in which several shows were showcased and individuals involved with the shows spoke. The final extra is an 8-minute GAG REEL.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long