Movies / Home Theatre

The Flash DVD

By Philip Schweier
October 25, 2006 - 18:14

While not the worst television interpretation of a super-hero (Yeah, I’m looking at you, Nicholas Hammond), The Flash had a number of elements working against it. It premiered in 1991 on Thursday nights opposite The Simpsons. It should be noted that it takes a heck of a new series to overcome one that is already established. Of course, it doesn’t help that many folk who would have watched The Flash may have already been Simpson fans. As a result, the series ran for only 22 episodes before going off the air.

It was typical for its time, produced on the Hollywood backlot – the same Central City set was used for Metropolis in 1993’s Lois & Clark – allowing more money to go into the costly special effects to create the Flash’s speed. Sets are highly stylized, as every wall has a mural, and hardly a car made after 1970 exists in Central City. The show seems to try to attain the timeless “somewhere in the 20th century” tone of the animated Batman series, including music by Danny Elfman and Shirley Walker.

Howard Chaykin and John Francis Moore serve as executive story consultants, providing a handful of scripts which try to ground the show somewhat in the real world. Some effort is put toward character development, as Barry’s cop father (M. Emmett Walsh) develops an greater understanding for his son’s scientific approach to police work, and the sexual tension grows between Barry and scientist Tina McGee (Amanda Pays).

It is an ambitious crime drama, but with a super-hero twist. Eventually, villains from Flash's Rogues Gallery are featured, but sparingly, and often in different forms than their comic book counterparts in an effort to keep the show grounded in reality.

The Flash/Barry Allen is played by John Wesley Shipp, who to me seemed fit enough to take the role without the extra padding offered by the red costume. But make no mistake; this is not your father’s padded costume a la George Reeves. Designed by Rocketeer creator Dave Stevens, the costume is a series of sculpted muscles, giving an almost convincing physique to our hero. I say almost because rather than the lean muscular tone of runner, The Flash has the muscled body of a weight-lifter.

Overall, the episodes are somewhat uneven. Standouts include Ghost in the Machine and its sequel, Deadly Nightshade, as well as two episodes featuring the Trickster. But don't be fooled – it's Mark Hamill as the certifiably insane villain who elevates those instalments.

Otherwise, many of the episodes are typical concepts lifted from The Six Million Dollar Man, Knight Rider and other "super-hero" shows. We even have the requisite evil twin episode. Thankfully, we're spared the inevitable clip show.

For anyone looking for more than the 22 episodes, be prepared for disappointment. There are no extras whatsoever on this DVD. No history of the character, commentary from the cast and crew, behind-the-scenes looks at special effects. Packaging of the complete series seems haphazard, giving more credit to actress Paula Marshall’s single outing as Barry’s girlfriend Iris than to Biff Manard, Vito D'Ambrosio, and Mike Genovese as recurring characters, Officers Murphy and Bellows and the hot-tempered police Lieutenant Garfield.

Last Updated: January 24, 2022 - 11:00

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