REVIEW: BABYLON 5 – SEASON 4

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Starring

Bruce Boxleitner (Supergirl)
Claudia Christian (9-1-1)
Jerry Doyle (Open House)
Mira Furlan (Lost)
Richard Biggs (Strong Medicine)
Bill Mumy (Lost In Space)
Jason Carter (The Duel)
Stephen Furst (Animal House)
Jeff Conaway (Grease)
Patricia Tallman (Dead Air)
Andreas Katsulas (The Fugitive)
Peter Jurasik (Tron)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Ardwight Chamberlain (Swiss Family Robinson)
Kris Iyer (Two and a Half Men)
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Mark Bramhall (Alias)
Kim Strauss (Million Dollar Baby)
Walter Koenig (Star Trek)
Henry Darrow (The Hitcher)
Andrew Craig (Conan The Adventurer)
Robin Atkin Downes (The Conjuring 2)
Marjorie Monaghan (Andromeda)
Clayton Landey (Sully)
Tim Choate (Blow Out)
Richard Steven Horvitz (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Batmas: TAS)
Marcia Mitzman Gaven (Small Soldiers)
Richard Gant (Rocky V)
Bruce Gray (Cube 2)
Carolyn Seymour (Congo)
Rance Howard (Small Soldiers)
Alastair Duncan (The Batman)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)

Wayne Alexander in Babylon 5 (1993)“It was the year of fire… the year of destruction… the year we took back what was ours. It was the year of rebirth… the year of great sadness… the year of pain… and the year of joy. It was a new age. It was the end of history. It was the year everything changed. The year is 2261. The place: Babylon 5.” For viewers who have been following Babylon 5 from its first season (and with its fantastic continuous storyline, that’s the way to watch B5), the opening voiceover for the credits of Season 4 is extraordinarily stirring. And the fact that the voiceover in the opening credits is shared among the cast highlights the fact that Babylon 5 has a true ensemble cast, with many different characters and story threads interwoven into one dramatic tapestry. In Season 4, appropriately titled “No Surrender, No Retreat,” many of these storylines come to an explosive climax, leaving other parts of the story to take on a larger role in the rest of Season 4.Jeff Conaway and Mira Furlan in Babylon 5 (1993)Season 3 left us at a critical point in B5, in several plot threads. Sheridan, drawn by his own personal demons as well as the need to defeat the Shadows, has gone to Z’ha’dum… and vanished. So too has Mr. Garibaldi. Babylon 5 has seceded from Earthgov, and now stands nearly alone in the fight against the Shadows. Only the Rangers, with Marcus as their representative on B5, and the Minbari, with their gift of the White Star, seem ready and willing to help. Londo Mollari seems to have turned his back on the potential for redemption, while G’Kar has had a philosophical revelation of his own.Jerry Doyle in Babylon 5 (1993)The beauty of Babylon 5, as viewers well know, is that each episode touches on several plot threads, developing them bit by bit as the season progresses. When a plot thread comes to a climax in a particular episode, it’s all the more effective because it has been painstakingly foreshadowed and developed up to that point. Take an episode like “Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?”, which weaves together several crucial story threads involving the fates of Sheridan, Garibaldi, and G’Kar and takes each of them to a new level.Babylon 5 (1993)Since the different plot threads of B5 develop over the course of many episodes, the result when one of them comes to the boiling point is extremely powerful. The story involving Ambassador Mollari is a case in point. In the first three episodes of the season, we see Londo and Vir drawn deeper and deeper in to back-stabbing Centauri politics and the deal-making behind the throne of the Emperor. Then, as G’Kar becomes drawn into this portion of the story, we get some of the episodes that have stayed most firmly in my mind: “Falling Toward Apotheosis,” “The Long Night,” and “Into the Fire.” While the story involving Sheridan, Delenn, and the station is perhaps more explosive, I think a good case could be made for the Centauri-Narn plot thread of Season 4 as the most dramatically effective and powerful of the season (and perhaps even of the series as a whole).Bruce Boxleitner and Mira Furlan in Babylon 5 (1993)The pacing of Season 4 is a bit odd, and for good reason. As Season 4 got underway, there was no assurance that it would be renewed for a fifth season, which would have really thrown a monkey wrench in the works, as B5 was envisioned as a five-year story arc from the very beginning. Babylon 5’s creator, J. Michael Straczynski, dealt with this by bringing many of the show’s main story arcs to a conclusion in Season 4, so that the story would have been (at least mostly) completed even if it didn’t get a fifth season. As it happened, B5 had a fifth year after all, but we can still see the effects: both Season 4 and 5 developed differently than was originally planned.Walter Koenig in Babylon 5 (1993)Most notably we see the effects of the “fast-forwarding” in the treatment of the conflict with the Shadows. The Shadow War, which has been developing over the course of two full seasons, is wrapped up in the first quarter of Season 4. Certainly those six episodes are fantastic, with a tremendous punch and intensity; this is the part of Season 4 that’s most memorable. Still, the ending in “Into the Fire” does feel a bit abrupt, though I won’t elaborate on that: I don’t want to give anything away for those (lucky!) viewers who are watching Babylon 5 for the first time.Babylon 5 (1993)After that, Babylon 5 shifts gears and focuses on the Mars situation and Babylon 5’s relationship with Earth, which remains decidedly shaky. There are some excellent stories here, but I’d be lying if I said they weren’t a bit of a letdown after the intensity of the Shadow-Vorlon conflict and its revelations, and the explosive events on Centauri Prime.Mira Furlan in Babylon 5 (1993)Fortunately, some plot threads that have been on the sidelines for much of the series now start being developed and then mature into gripping stories of their own. The Mars Colony has been a background story element throughout the first three seasons of B5: the rebellion there has on several occasions influenced events on B5, but it hasn’t been a prime concern. Now, in “Atonement,” Marcus and Dr. Franklin are sent to Mars, beginning a story line there that will develop through three following episodes as a main story, and continue to be significant in episodes further down the line as well. Garibaldi (always one of my favorite characters) develops in a new direction in episodes like “Conflicts of Interest,” and the suave and very dangerous Psi Cop, Bester, has a key role to play as well… The result is another of the most exciting episodes of Season 4, “The Face of the Enemy.”Bill Mumy in Babylon 5 (1993)The closing episodes of Season 4 bring us back to the conflict between Earth and Babylon . “No Surrender, No Retreat” is one of the best late-season episodes, ratcheting up the tension in the conflict between Earth and Babylon 5; “Between the Darkness and the Light,” “Endgame,” and “Rising Star” set up a miniature story arc and resolve it fairly quickly. Again, these are well-done episodes, but they’re in the shadow of better episodes, and with the fairly rapid development (unlike the more evenly paced Mars story thread) there’s not as much opportunity for the development of dramatic tension.imagesThe finale of Season 4, “The Deconstruction of Falling Stars,” is a peculiar episode: it’s a “retrospective” of Babylon 5’s history from 100, 500, 1,000, and 1,000,000 years in the future. As such, it effectively wraps up the Babylon 5 story and foreshadows (one could say “spoils”) many of the events in Season 5. It also provides a very definitive stopping point for Babylon 5 viewers: Season 5 is essentially an “extra” season, as all the most powerful story threads that we’ve been following have been wrapped up, most of them very effectively indeed. The one remaining thread that Season 4 leaves unfinished is, interestingly, the one story thread that has been a constant in one way or another from the very first season: the telepath situation.

REVIEW: SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 3

Starring

Tim Daly (Madam Secretary)
Dana Delany (Desperate Housewives)
David Kaufman (Stargate SG.1)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Sharon Lawrence (The Ranch)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Renée Taylor (The Nanny)
Jack Carter (McCloud)
Brad Garrett (Christopher Robin)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Steve Sandor (The Yellow Rose)
Joseph Bologna (Big Daddy)
Bruce Weitz (Half Past Dead)
Victor Brandt (The Batman)
Mike Farrell (Patch Adams)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
Carolyn Seymour (Congo)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Diane Delano (Jeepers Creepers 2)
Andrea Martin (My Big Fat Greek Wedding)
Diane Michelle (Robotech: The Movie)
Clyde Kusatsu (Midway)
Peri Gilpin (Frasier)
William H. Macy (Fargo)
Peter Gallagher (The Gifted)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Mathew Valencia (The New Batman Advntures)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
John Glover (Smallville)
Paul Williams (Smokey and The Bandit)
Henry Silva (Above The Law)
Bob Hastings (The Poseidon Adventure)
Charity James (Space Jam)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Jason Priestley (Tru Calling)
Jason Marsden (Hocus Pocus)
Chad Lowe (Unfaithful)
Melissa Joan Hart (No GOod Nick)
Joely Fisher (The Mask)
Bud Cort (Harold and Maude)
Townsend Coleman (The Tick)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Gilbert Gottfried (Critters: A New Binge)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Carl Lumbly (Supergirl)
Sarah Douglas (Superman 1 & 2)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Michael P. Greco (Bleach)
George Dzundza (Crimson Tide)
Peter Mark Richman (Defenders of The Earth)
Melissa Disney (Superman vs The Elite)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations)
Billy West (Futurama)
Stephen Root (Barry)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
David Warner (Tron)
Olivia Hussey (Black Christmas)
Michael Horse (Roswell)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Hot Shots)
Jeff Bennett (Enchanted)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)

3447328-absolute-powerSuperman is everywhere. He’s also been everywhere; for nearly seventy years now the character has been inspiring us with his tales of heroism, adventure, and fantasy. Seventy years is a long time and with a character as popular as Superman it equates to a lot of different interpretations. From the original comic books to a radio series to a handful of television shows, it seems that the Last Son of Krypton has done it all. We are very lucky then to have these DVDs, because in all of that time, throughout all the years, the stories found in Superman: The Animated Series are his best. The fifty-four cartoon episodes (spread across three boxed sets) that make up the complete run of Superman: The Animated Series aren’t just the best take on the character because they’re faithful. Nor is it because they’re animated, for all ages, or very imaginative. It’s for all of these reasons. And several more.3447300-little_big_head_manThe creative team behind the series has plundered the rich mythology of the character and come up with a fantastic take on each and every piece of the Superman universe. For starters, their Clark Kent and Lois Lane interpretation is spot-on. Clark isn’t too much of a goof, nor is he too simple. Similarly, Lois is fiery, funny, and lovely. Seeing the characters come together at the end of Legacy, Part 2 makes for a great cathartic moment. Superman has saved Lois a countless number of times, it is only fitting then that Lois save him when he needs it. The main arc of this season borrows from the comic book universe and brings Darkseid and his homeworld to the forefront. Hinted at earlier in the show, it’s in this third volume that the Lord of Apokolips finally gets his payoff – and his payback. In a trio of two-parters, Apokolips… Now!, Little Girl Lost, and Legacy, Superman fights one of his most ruthless foes in a series of episodes that offer some excellent action, drama, and science fiction fun.maxresdefault (1)While these episodes are very faithful to the mythos, we’ve also got a great selection of original stories that go to prove that with a character like Superman, there is no limit to the stories that you can tell. One of my favorites is Knight Time. When Batman goes missing, Superman pays a visit to Gotham City and tries to find out where his friend has gone. Supes inadvertently ends up masquerading as Batman – dressing up in the Dark Knight’s costume and everything! – and teams up with Robin to solve the mystery of the missing Bruce Wayne. Not only is the episode entertaining, but it’s also got a great sense of humor. Seeing Superman do his best impersonation of Batman is wonderful – Clark doesn’t know which utility pockets contain what, and his attempts at being grim (nodding his head instead of speaking) are great.stas-legacy7Watching these shows you get the feeling that it was during this final stretch of episodes that the show’s producers were finding new ways of playing with the formula that they had designed, and perfected, with both Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series. Not only do these Superman episodes have a lot of two-parters, but we’ve also got some great guest-stars; it seems that this show is the precursor to Justice League. We’ve got heroes, Kyle Rayner from In Brightest Day, and villains, Ra’s Al Ghul in The Demon Reborn, and everyone in between – everyone’s favorite master of the sea, Aquaman in Fish Story. We also get an expansion of the Superman supporting cast when Supergirl makes a welcome appearance in the Little Girl Lost two-parter.Superman_TAS_2x27_001The animation is somewhat more limited when compared to the fancy digital effects that more modern shows exhibit, but the handcrafted style gives the show a wonderful atmosphere. If you pay close attention you’ll notice that a lot of effort has gone into the design of the animation – much more so than most animated series. The framing here is frequently packed. Helping flesh out the world are all of the voice actors; everyone from Tim Daly (as Superman/Clark) to Clancy Brown (as Lex Luthor) is perfect in his or her role. The only thing holding the show back, and this is a small point, is the fact that the stories, due to their child-friendly animated nature, are a little more limited than the best television shows tend to be. Even so, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better adventure series – animated or live action.Superman_meets_SupergirlIn one of the episodes found in this collection, Superman pays his final respects to a recently departed friend. In the graveyard, Superman comes to realize something very important: “In the end, the world didn’t really need a Super man. Just a brave one.” This show gives us a character who is both brave and super. It gives us a real hero. It gives us Superman… as good as he’s ever been.

REVIEW: STAR TREK: VOYAGER – SEASON 1-7

 

voyagerMAIN CAST

Kate Mulgrew (Lovepsell)
Robert Beltran (Big Love)
Tim Russ (Samantha Who?)
Robert Duncan McNeill (Masters of The Universe)
Roxann Dawson (Darkman III)
Garrett Wang (Into The West)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Jennifer Lien (Ameircan History X)
Jeri Ryan (Arrow)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Armin Shimerman (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Scott MacDonald (Jack Frost)
Majel Barrett (Earth: Final Conflict)
Martha Hackett (Leprechaun 2)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers LIghtspeed Rescue)
Anthony De Longis (Highlander: The Series)
Marjorie Monaghan  (Andromeda)
Brian Markinson (Izombie)
Carolyn Seymour (Congo)
Rob LaBelle (Dark Angel)
Thomas Dekker (Terminator: TSCC)
John Rubinstein (Legends of Tomorrow)
Sharon Lawrence (NYPD Blue)
Aron Eisenberg (Puppet Master 3)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Nancy Hower (Catch and Release)
Jack Shearer (End of Days)
Gary Graham (Alien Nation)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)
Joel Grey (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Rick Worthy (Collateral Damage)
Raphael Sbarge (Once Upon A Time)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Gerrit Graham (Child’s Play 2)
John De Lancie (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle)
Jonathan Frakes (Roswell)
Carel Struycken (The Addams Family)
Thomas Kopache (Catch Me If You Can)
Michael McKean (Smallville)
Jeremy Roberts (The Mask)
George Takei (Heroes)
Grace Lee Whitney (60s Batman)
Michael Ansara (Batman: TAS)
Robert Prine (V)
James Parks (Django Unchained)
Estelle Harris (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Keene Curtis (Stargate SG.1)
Harry Groener (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Sarah Silverman (A Million Ways To Die In The West)
Ed Begley jr. (Veronica Mars)
Brad Greenquist (Alias)
Galyn Gorg (Robocop 2)
Harve Presnell (Lois & Clark)
Ivar Brogger (Andromeda)
Alan Openheimer (Transformers)
Kristanna Loken (Bloodrayne)
Jessica Collins (Tru Calling)
Rachael Harris (New Girl)
Wendy Schaal (American Dad)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Leland Orser (Seven)
Rosemary Forsyth (Disclosure)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show)
Rebecca McFarland (Two and a Half Men)
Judson Scott (V)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Mark Metcalf (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Virginia Madsen (Highlander 2)
Ray Wise (Agent Carter)
Zach Galligan (Gremlins)
Kate Vernon (Battlestar Galactica)
Tucker Smallwood (Traffic)
Ray Walston (The Sting)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Scarlett Pomers (Reba)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Willie Garson (Stargate SG.1)
Mark Harelik (The Big Bang Theory)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
William Morgan Sheppard (Transformers)
Susanna Thompson (Arrow)
LeVar Burton (Roots: The Gift)
Musetta Vander (Stargate SG.1)
Jason Alexander (Shallow Hal)
Ron Canada (Just Like Heaven)
Ian Abercrombie (Birds of Prey)
Kevin Tighe (Lost)
Bradley Pierce (Jumanji)
Titus Welliver (Agents of SHIELD)
John Savage (Dark Angel)
Alicia Coppola (Empire)
Martha Hackett (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Larry Hankin (Breaking Bad)
Christopher Neame (Ghostbusters II)
James Saito (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Mel Winkler (Coach Carter)
Henry Darrow (The Hitcher)
Alan Scarfe (Andromeda)
Larry Cedar (Deadwood)
Maury Ginsberg (Jessica Jones)
Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: TNG)
Bob Clendenin (THat 70s Show)
Don McManus (Mom)
Leslie Jordan (Ugly Betty)
Eugene Roche (Soap)
Bruce Davison (X-Men)
Athena Massey (Cyber Tracker 2)
Suzie Plakson (How I Met Your Mother)
Lori Hallier (My Bloody Valentine)
Gary Bullock (Species)
Patrick Fabian (Better Call Saul)
Marshall R. Teague (Babylon 5)
Wayne Pére (Cloak & Dagger)
Andy Dick (Road Trip)
Wade Williams (Gangster Squad )
Todd Babcock (GOds and Monsters)
Joseph Ruskin (The Scorpion King0
Ned Romero (Hang ‘Em High)
Christopher Shea (Charmed)
Lee Arenberg (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Scott Thompson (Hannibal)
David Burke (The Tick)
Bruce McGill (Lincoln)
Dakin Matthews (Child’s Play 3)
Eric Steinberg (Stargate SG.1)
Mark Moses (Mad Men)
Richard McGonagle (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Kamala Lopez (Deep Cover)
Ray Xifo (Stargate SG.1)
Paul Williams (Batman: TAS)
Ted Rooney (Roswell)
Mark Deakins (The Devil’s Advocate)
Larry Drake (Darkman)
Jeff Yagher (V)
Jonathan Del Arco (Star Trek: Picard)
Scott Lawrence (Avatar)
Robin Sachs (Babylon 5)
Michael Shamus Wiles (Breaking Bad)
Robert Ito (Batman: TAS)
Joseph Campanella (Hangar 18)
Autumn Reeser (Sully)
Andy Milder (Transformers)
Jonathan Breck (Jeepers Creepers)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien NAtion)
Claire Rankin (Stargate: Atlantis)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Mimi Craven  (A NIghtmare on Elm Street)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Richard Herd (V)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Obi Ndefo (Angel)
Lindsey Ginter (Hercules: TLJ)
Jeffrey Combs (The Frightners)
Dwayne Johnson (Fast & Furious 7)
J.G. Hertzler (Roswell)
Manu Intiraymi  (Go)
Richard Riehle (Texas Chainsaw 3D)
Mark Sheppard (Firefly)
Tony Amendola (Annabelle)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Tamara  Marie Watson (Odyssey 5)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Keith Szarabajka (Angel)
Gregory Itzin (Firefly)
John Franklin (Children of The Corn)
Ron Glass (Firefly)
Jeff Kober (New Girl)
Robert Axelrod (Power Rangers)
Sherman Howard (Superbo)
Robert Joy (Amityville 3)
Alice Krige (Children of Dune)

Star Trek: Voyager is a great series to watch. The initial concept of the show is pretty simple: USS Voyager is taken to the delta quadrant against there will and are stranded there – leaving them no choice to but to embark on a long and dangerous journey home.

The Voyager series brings in a lot of new and old ideas about the star trek universe. The new idea of having a holographic doctor and being able to send him on away-missions is a very complex and entertaining idea. The idea of two opposing factions banding together to work as one crew is new. However, some old ideas do still remain for example the unattractive uniforms, colour designations, button sounds and the weakness of their ship.

The cast is full of good actors. At first the characters were green and so was the acting, but by the second season the characters and acting seemed to flow much better. Captain Jane-way certainly looks and feels like a leader and her choices are often made by seeking advice from other crew members, but some of her decisions are startlingly dark and immoral. There were a lot of recurring minor roles for actors and they brought a unique feel to the show.

One of the best things I like about this series is that it gets very technical, but is also dumbed-down enough to make sure the ordinary lay-man (like myself) can still understand what’s going on. The addition of Seven of Nine was a great idea. Jeri Ryan brought in a great sex appeal and added further to the technical stand-points in the show. I fully enjoyed learning a lot about the Borg. It is one of the species I was most interested in.
If you want to know about the Borg, this is the series to watch. Also, this series is very dark. At some points I had shed some tears. Rick Berman was shooting for a darker Star Trek and he made it happen. Overall, this is a wonderful show. It outlines betrayal, morality, trust, honor and integrity. Each episode takes you on journey to learning a new life lesson.

REVIEW: THE FLASH (1990)

CAST

John Wesley Shipp (Dawsons Creek)
Amanda Pays (The Knife)
Alex Desert (Swingers)

Recuring / Notable Guest Cast

Paula Marshall (Gary Unmarried)
Michael Nader (All My Children)
Tim Thomerson (Trancers)
Priscilla Pointer (Carrie)
Lycia Naff (Lethal Weapon)
Richard Belzer (Scarface)
Robert Hooks (Star Trek III)
M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner)
Vito D’Ambrosio (Bones)
Wayne Pére (CLoak & Dagger)
Justin Burnette (Hearts Afire)
Biff Manard (The Wrong Guys)
Mike Genovese (ER)
Sven-Ole Thorsen (Mallrats)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Clarence Clemons (Blues brothers 2000)
Ian Buchanan (Panic Room)
Elizabeth Gracen (Highlander: The Raven)
Miguel Fernandes (Relic Hunter)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld)
Chuck Hicks (Dick Tracy)
Wes Studi (Mystery Men)
Robert Shayne (Adventures of Superman)
Jonathan Brandis (IT)
Perrey Reeves (Child”s Play 3)
Kirk Baltz (Face/Off)
Mark Dacascos (Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight)
Adam West (Batman)
Patricia Tallman (Babylon 5)
Jason Bernard (Liar Liar)
Lois Nettleton (Centennial)
Ian Abercrombie (Birds of Prey)
Anthony Starke (Hand of God)
Sherrie Rose (Black Scorpion)
Gloria Reuben (Lincoln)
Deborah May (The Walking Dead)
Christopher Neame (The Prestige)
Ken Foree (The Lords of Salem)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantern)
Jay Arlen Jones (Eight Legged Freaks)
Joyce Hyser (The Wedding Pact)
Timothy Stack (My Name Is Earl)
Remy Ryan (Robocop 3)
Yvette Nipar (Robocop: The Series)
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Kimberly Neville (Noises Off…)
Robert Z’Dar (Maniac Cop)
Robert O’Reilly (Star Trek: DS9)
Richard Burgi (The Green Inferno)
Denise Crosby (Star Trek: TNG)
Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager)
Michael Champion (Total Recall)
Lisa Darr (Popular)
Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator)
François Chau (The Tick)
Lenny von Dohlen (Electric Dreams)
David Cassidy (The Partridge Family)
Signy Coleman (The X-Files)
Carolyn Seymour (Congo)
Bill Mumy (Lost In Space)
Matt Landers (Die Hard)
Victor Rivers (Hulk)
Claire Stansfield (Xena: WP)
Corinne Bohrer (Veronica Mars)

 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.