25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE FLASH – THE MAN IN THE YELLOW SUIT

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THE MAN IN THE YELLOW SUIT
CAST
Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (Heroes)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order)
Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries)
GUEST CAST
Robbie Amell (The Duff)
Michelle Harrison (Tru Calling)
Amanda Pays (Nip/Tuck)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash 90s)
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Barry races through the city chasing his mother’s killer; the man in the yellow suit. One Day Earlier. Barry is decorating a Christmas tree with Joe when Iris come in with eggnog. While Joe takes a call from the DA in the next room, Iris convinces Barry to exchange gifts early. Barry gives her a replica of her mother’s wedding ring; she lost the original in the fifth grade. Iris is touched. Eddie arrives and notices the exchange but says nothing.
Later Barry goes to Star Labs to give his new friends their gifts. Wells leaves abrubtly during the festivities and Cisco reminds Barry its now the anniversary of the explosion. Christmas was Well’s favorite holiday, but since the accident its now a bitter reminder of all he has lost. t Jitters, Eddie asks Iris if she believes Barry is in love with her. Iris denies it, despite the gift and allays his concerns. Eddie gives Iris a key to his apartment which she happily accepts. At the mall parking lot, Caitlin notices she is being watched from the shadows by a homeless man. Following the man when he tries to flee, she corners him and he sprouts flames from his hands and head. The metahuman turns and reveals himself to be Ronnie. Shocked to see him she runs off allowing him to escape. At Mercury Labs several guards are killed by a fast yellow blur. The yellow blur appears to be looking for something and ransacks much of the lab. Later Barry, Eddie and Joe investigate the scene. Eddie speaks with a surviving scientist who mentions a man in a yellow suit. In private Barry notes to Joe only something moving at impossible speeds could have killed the guards. After hearing Eddie’s description Barry realizes its his mother’s killer. Joe is forced to admit the other metahuman has been in town for a few weeks; he didn’t tell Barry since the man threatened Iris’ life.
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The next day Joe and Barry discuss the break in with Wells at S.T.A.R. Labs. Wells explains Mercury Labs and S.T.A.R. Labs were rivals until the accident crippled S.T.A.R. Labs. Mercury Labs has been working on a project involing Tachyon particles and the three deduce this is the Man in the Yellow suit’s target. Barry suggest they use this fact to create a trap for him. Caitlin goes to Jitters to speak with Iris about her blog on the various metahuman sightings. She asks about the “burning man” story; a metahuman Iris has not really kept much track of. Iris promises to send her all the information she has and asks if Barry has been keeping secrets; noticing his strange behavior in the past weeks. Caitlin responds that she should talk to him if she is concerned. Wells and Barry talk with the head scientist of Mercury Labs at the police station; trying to obtain the tachyon experiment as bait. The scientist refuses; believing Wells is looking for an advantage in the market again. At S.T.A.R. Labs Caitlin and Cisco work on the trap. Caitlin finally tells Cisco about Ronnie and she needs help to find him again. Cisco believed she imagined it since Ronnie was vaporized in the explosion. Barry reviews his mother’s case at his lab.
He remembers the night of his mother’s death; Nora tucks a young Barry in while checking his bruises. She assures him that he is not afraid of the dark; just afraid of being alone in it. However, once he realizes he is never alone the fear will have no power over him. Later Barry awakens to the sound of a commotion downstairs and runs to find his mother being attacked. Iris breaks him out of his memory and the talk about her relationship with Eddie. Barry defends his bizarre behavior as shock at the speed of their relationship. He assures her he is happy that she is happy. After Iris leaves Barry spots the Man in the Yellow suit watching him on the roof opposite to him. He chases the other speedster who finally stops in an alley. Barry demands answers for his mother’s murder but the metahuman taunts him, that he will have to catch him first and speeds off again.
The two end up in the stadium and start fighting. The man in the yellow suit taunts Barry; behaving as if they have met and battled before while outmatching him with speed and superior fighting. Before leaving he tells Barry it is his destiny to lose to him, just as it was also destiny for Barry’s mother to die that night. The next day Barry relates what happened to Joe and Wells. Joe dismisses the Man in the Yellow Suit’s claims to Barry as scare tactics in the heat of battle. Wells assures Barry the trap will hold but both voice their concern that Barry should stay out of the next stage of the plan; he is too close to this foe. Barry dismisses their concerns and heads off with Joe to get the Tachyon device. Thanks to a bluff they are able to get it with little trouble. Overhearing some of their conversation Eddie manages to get himself and his task force involved; believing it to be a chance to catch the Flash once and for all. Elsewhere Cisco and Caitlin use a device to track Ronnie from where he was last seen. Cisco believes they should have told Wells and Barry but Caitlin says they must try this alone first. Cisco is warned that Ronnie is not like they remembered him when the device reacts to him being close to them.
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Hiding further down the hallway they find Ronnie. Caitlin tries to coax him to come with them but he reacts with confusion and anger; claiming he isn’t Ronnie and warns them to stay away from him. He grabs Caitlin when she touches his burnt hands and whispers “Firestorm”, before erupting into flame and running off from the pair. Back at S.T.A.R. Labs the Tachyon prototype is set in the heart of the trap. Barry is told by Wells and Joe again that he needs to back off and he reluctantly agrees. Down in the pipeline Cisco finds a sobbing Caitlin and assures that they now know for certain Ronnie is alive, and they can find him again. Caitlin is not certain she wants to find him; certain that unlike Bette and Barry he has turned into a monster like the metahumans they have locked up. She laments it might have been better that he died in the explosion over being a metahuman. Cisco tries to console her as best he can.
Barry goes to visit his father. Barry confesses to his father that he finally found the man who murdered Nora but he got away. Distraught he tells his father it is now his fault that he is stuck behind bars. Henry tells him not to blame himself; that the murder has dominated Barry’s life for fourteen years and he hasn’t been able to truly lead his own life. Henry has also worked out Barry is in love with Iris but never told her. He tells his son not to let the killer take anymore of his life from him. Barry returns home and talks to Iris. He confesses his feelings to her; admitting he never acted on them because he feared losing her like he did his parents. Iris remains silent; crying silently. Barry apologises for upsetting her and leaves. At S.T.A.R. Labs, the group along with the task force wait for the Man in the Yellow suit. Cisco has been releasing pulses from the Tachyon device to draw his attention. Sure enough the speedster arrives and Cisco activates the trap; encasing him in a force field. Wells, Joe and the taskforce head down to inspect their captive while Caitlin and Cisco remain in the control room to keep the trap running. In the chamber Joe attempts to interrogate the villain over Nora Allan’s murder. The villain ignores him, but speaks to Wells; acting pleased they can meet face to face. The two trade barbs over knowledge of the other. When Wells point out they created the trap based on the villain’s similar nature to the Flash he laughs; claiming he is quite the reverse of the hero.
Cisco notes a fluctuation in the barrier and tries to warn Wells; just as the barrier drops for a second. The villain quickly grabs Wells; pulling him into the force field and proceeds to violently beat him. Joe has no option but to break the field generator to save Wells from the attack. Caitlin calls Barry for help and he speeds over. The Man in the Yellow suit takes out the Task force; but hesitates when facing Eddie and strangely spares him. The villain then speeds over to Joe and chokes him, reminding him that he was warned not to hunt him. Barry then comes in and takes The Man in the Yellow suit outside flying out of the building in a tornado of red and yellow electricity, Caitlin and Cisco run outside to watch the fight. The fight is not going well for Barry as the man in yellow continually beats on him. Before he can kill Barry however, he is taken down by a stream of fire, it is Ronnie who used his powers to stop the man in yellow. With this turn of events, the man in yellow tells Barry that “their race is not yet done” and that he will see him soon, he then speeds away.
As Cisco runs over to help Barry up Caitlin runs over to Ronnie who tells her to not look for him again, he then sprouts his flames, takes flight, soaring off into the sky while the 3 look up in awe, Barry is once again upset that the man in yellow escaped. Back at the station a shocked Eddie wonders why he wasn’t killed but Joe can offer no answer. Joe is forced to admit the existence of Metahumans to Eddie. He swears Eddie to secrecy; that public knowledge of Metahumans would lead to a panic. Eddie agrees but asks if Joe knows who the Flash is; Joe simply responds he is the man who saved their lives tonight; secretly casting a glance at Barry. At S.T.A.R. Labs Caitlin tends to Wells while Cisco wonders how the trap failed; apologizing for the danger they put their friend in. Wells assures them he is not upset about it; but he is annoyed they kept the fact Ronnie was alive from him. Caitlin covers for Cisco; she wanted a chance to bring him in herself; especially after seeing the state he was in. This defuses Wells anger and he promises Caitlin he will help in whatever he can to bring Ronnie home. Joe goes to see Barry in the police lab; Barry admits that the murder of his mother has kept him in the city for fourteen years. Joe admits that when he first brought Barry home he didn’t know if he could handle him; but in a week Barry had brought light and life into his and Iris’ lives. Joe does not want Barry to lose that light to fear.
The two return home to find all of Barry’s friends there, except for Wells. Joe admits he called everyone since Barry needed cheering up. Caitlin apologises for Wells absence; that he needed to recover from the beating. Barry congratulates Eddie and Iris moving in together but Iris does not meet his gaze. Cisco talks privately with Joe; during the brawl he noticed something that reminded him of Barry’s account of Nora’s murder. Red and yellow lightning merging; both realize there were two speedsters there that night; explaining how Barry ended up across the street. Iris calls them over and Joe puts the angel on the tree. At S.T.A.R. Labs, Harrison enters his hidden chamber, unlocking it with a ring with the Flash insignia on it. Inside is the Blur’s yellow suit, and Harrison attaches the stolen prototype to its chest. Smiling, he speaks in Reverse Flash’s distorted voice, saying “Merry Christmas”.
The Flash is ne of the best TV shows on television today, this Christmas episode shows you why it’s just so damn good. The Man in The Yellow Suit you finally get to know just who Reverse Flash is, they save the big reveal for the last few minutes of the episode to make sure viewers tune back in for the next episode. This is one of my all time Christmas episodes.

REVIEW: THE FLASH (1990)

CAST

John Wesley Shipp (Dawsons Creek)
Amanda Pays (The Knife)
Alex Desert (Swingers)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Paula Marshall (Veronica Mars)
Michael Nader (All My Children)
Tim Thomerson (Trancers)
Priscilla Pointer (Carrie)
Lycia Naff (Total Recall)
Richard Belzer (Law & Order)
M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner)
Vito D’Ambrosio (Arrow)
Biff Manard (Zone Troopers)
Mike Genovese (Point Break)
Sven-Ole throsen (Mallrats)
Joyce Hyser (This Is Spinal Tap)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Elizabeth Gracen (Highlander: The Series)
Ian Buchanan (Panic Room)
Jonathan Brandis (Seaquest)
Remy Ryan (Robocop 3)
Adam West (60s Batman)
Mark Dacascos (Crying Freeman)
Ian Abercrombie (Birds of Prey)
Clifton Collins Jr (Westworld)
Gloria Reuben (Timecop)
Robert Shayne (Adventures of Superman)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantern)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Timothy Stack (My Name is Earl)
Yvette Nipar (Robocop: The Series)
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Robert Z’Dar (Maniac Cop)
Robert O’Reilly (Star Trek: DS9)
Richard Burgi (Firefly)
Michael Champion (Toy Soldiers)
Jeffrey Combs (Gotham)
Francois Chau (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2)
David Cassidy (Instant Karma)
Carolyn Seymour (Congo)
Claire Stansfield (Xena)
 The series is a mash-up of the Barry Allen and Wally West eras of the comics. The show’s producers, Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo, wisely chose to use the Barry Allen version of the character (played by John Wesley Shipp). This was probably due to the greater story possibilities that Allen’s job as a police forensic scientist could offer. It didn’t matter that Barry had been killed off in the comics five years prior to the show. The character of Dr. Tina McGee (played by the savoury Amanda Pays) comes from the Wally West comics. She is a scientist who helps Barry understand and cope with his new powers of super speed.  The solid performances of the core cast make this show work despite its cartoony conventions. Barry Allen is an easy character to like because we can appreciate and empathize with his underdog-makes-good nature. Barry has always been inferior to his Dad and his overachieving older brother Jay. When he gains his extraordinary powers we can’t help but think that it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy.

Also noteworthy is the impish chemistry between Shipp and Pays. Their characters have an intimate, yet platonic relationship that is almost as charming as Pays’ accent. Alex Désert is underused as Barry’s friend and coworker, Julio Mendez. Désert’s easy-going, friendly presence provides a necessary counterpoint to Barry’s no-nonsense ‘get-the-job-done’ attitude. It’s too bad that he didn’t have more to do than set Barry up on blind dates and make wisecracks. The show was produced in the wake of the massive success of Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film. The mood and tone of that movie is a huge influence on the first few episodes of The Flash, especially the Pilot episode, “The Origin of a Super Hero.” That episode begins with an establishing shot of Central City that is a blatant copy of the opening scene in Batman where we first see Gotham. We also see the same ‘evil steam’ shooting up from the sewers and citizens scurrying to get indoors, away from all the immoral activity that abounds on the mean streets of Gotham . . .er. . . Central City. Later on, the confrontation between Flash and the bad guy is also an obvious lift from Batman, complete with the “You made me!” line.As the series progresses, it stops trying to ape the manner and feel of Batman and takes on more of a 1940s film-noir motif – only a lot more colourful. The ‘Tim Burton Effect’ still lingers though. One such pastiche, which ironically is not in the Pilot episode, is the use of period props such as 1950s automobiles. Burton can get away with such an aesthetic because his films often take place in an ambiguous timeline where stylistically, anything goes. In The Flash, the out-of-time props are an unnecessary distraction. They’re especially irrelevant during the episode titled “Ghost in the Machine” where The Ghost, a villain from the 1950s, comes out of a deep freeze to again wreak havoc on Central City in 1990. It’s hard to buy into The Ghost’s future shock when people are still wearing trilbies and driving around in Ford Fairlanes.
The show didn’t have great villains but like most genre entertainment, thinking is the real enemy. The Trickster, played by Mark Hamill, is definitely the show’s greatest and most memorable antagonist, even if he is just a check-in-the-box inclusion of a Joker-like homicidal clown. Hamill is great, playing the character as an obsessed, erotomaniacal master-of-disguise while the script, unfortunately, wants him to be a poor man’s Joker. Ironically, he would later go on to recycle his Trickster performance as the voice of the Joker on Batman: The Animated Series. Even Captain Cold works reasonably well within the context of the series, reinvented here as an albino mercenary with an ice gun. Actor Michael Champion plays the role relatively straight and plausible, as if shooting people up with frost is an everyday occurrence. He even gets to deliver the line, ‘The Iceman Cometh,’ six years before Arnold Schwarzenegger would as Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin.

Michael Nader’s stone-faced overacting as outlaw motorcycle gang leader, Nicholas Pike is way too over-the-top to be taken seriously. Casting soap opera or sitcom actors as villains is always a bad idea. The difference between Hamill and Nader’s performances is that Hamill is trying to be humourous, Nader isn’t. David Cassidy and his widow’s peak are unfortunately a non-presence as Mirror Master in “Done with Mirrors.” He comes off as more of a Bizarro-Keith Partridge than a threatening adversary. One of the highlights of the series is “Fast Forward” where Flash is accidentally propelled 10 years into a bleak future where his powers are unstable. He’s got to find a way to get back to his own time and set things right. Every super hero / sci-fi show has to have its ‘evil parallel universe’ or ‘undesirable future’ story and The Flash is no exception. This episode reminds me of the 1960s Spider-Man cartoon where Spidey would be sucked into some twisted alternate dimension that he would have to fight his way out of. The scene where Flash is “falling” into the psychedelic void is a direct homage to that show. It really is an entertaining story if you can plow through the painful first act of Nader’s scenery chewing and hamming it up.One episode that is way more endearing than it probably has any right to be is “Twin Streaks” where an obligatory mad scientist type tries to clone Flash and ends up creating a sort of Bizarro-Flash in a story that vaguely resembles Bride of Frankenstein. The laughs, intentional or not, are effortless. Bizarro-Flash or Pollux as he’s called, wears a blue Flash costume. It would have been a nice wink-nudge to the fans if they had given him a yellow suit as a reference to Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash. Zoom was mentioned in another episode, after all. One of the show’s major clunkers is “Be My Baby” where Barry has to care for an infant that was left on his doorstep. It’s nothing but recycled humour from 3 Men and a Baby and countless sitcoms. This episode reads like an attempt to inject some feel-good, warm fuzzy moments into the show. I actually felt sorry for the then-unknown Bryan Cranston, who had the thankless job of playing the bad guy on this one. If the show’s producers truly wanted to feature more heartwarming stories they could have done an episode or episodes that focused on the heroic endeavors that Flash has performed for the medical community. There was one story from Mike Baron’s run on the comic where Wally West was charged with transporting a human heart across the US to a transplant patient. Story lines such as these could have been an untapped goldmine of drama and suspense as long as they didn’t get too sappy with it. It also would have been a welcome break from the hit-or-miss villain of the week.

Shirley Walker’s score music is tailor made to suit the flavour of each individual episode. “Beat the Clock”, a story about a jazz musician falsely accused of killing his wife, appropriately has a lonely sounding Chicago jazz score while “Watching the Detectives” features music that evokes old private-eye films of the 1940s to compliment that episode’s subject matter. The Flash’s opening theme song is composed by Danny Elfman and sounds like a recycled version of his Batman theme. The Flash is a keen show that had the potential to be much greater than it was. Its adherence to the original source material and the earnest portrayal of the characters by the core cast give the series its irresistible allure. This is essential viewing for comic book and sci-fi fans and it definitely deserves a spot on your DVD shelf.