HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: DOLLY DEAREST

CAST

Denise Crosby (Star Trek: TNG)
Sam Bottoms (The Unsaid)
Rip Torn (Men In Black)
Lupe Ontiveros (Real Women Have Curves)
Candace Hutson(The Maddening)
Chris Demetral (Lois & Clark)

deep_freeze_6American father, Elliot Wade, obtains ownership of the Dolly Dearest factory in Mexico. Not far from the factory lies the underground, Mayan tomb of Sanzia, or Satan on Earth. An archaeologist breaks into the sarcophagus but is crushed by the stone slab that covers the entrance and the malevolent spirit of Sanzia that has been trapped inside for hundreds of years is released. Upon its escape Sanzia takes refuge in the porcelain moppets of Dolly Dearest. Despite the demise of the archaeologist, the sale is finalized and the unsuspecting Wade family travels from Los Angeles to Mexico to see their new home. Upon arrival, the family meets their realtor, Mr. Estrella and housekeeper, Camilla (Lupe Ontiveros) After having the luggage unloaded, Estrella decides to take Elliot to see the factory, and seven-year-old daughter Jessica asks to go with to no objection of her father. Jimmy decides to tag along as well. The building, long abandoned, is covered in dust and spiderwebs and structurally unstable to the consternation of Elliot, but Estrella hurriedly brushes his worries aside and discusses the history of the factory.

dolly_dearest2During the conversation, Jessica goes exploring. On a high shelf she discovers many well-preserved dolls covered by a sheet. She asks her father if she may have one and he acquiesces. Outside, Jimmy finds the entrance to the cave which is blocked by a wire fence. Unaware of recent events, Jimmy inquires about that area, but his father warns him to never go back there again. However, he does not listen. That night, Marilyn tucks Jessica in bed and wishes her good night. As she falls asleep, Dolly slowly turns her head to stare at the sleeping child. The next day, when Jessica goes outside to play with Dolly, Marilyn finds a disturbing drawing that she believes Jessica drew. Although curious, Marilyn does not confront her. As the day progresses, Marilyn begins to experience unusual activities. In the beginning, she hears phantom footsteps (known to the viewer as those of Dolly). As time progresses Camilla sends a priest to bless the house. During the session, the Wade family is driving back to their house, and Jessica throws a tantrum in the car. Upon reaching their home, the Priest is seen walking away and Marilyn successfully calms her daughter. Jessica demands that she be given her Dolly immediately, and as the family walks into the house, she looks back and glares at Camilla.

image-w448

That night, Marilyn recounts the day’s events to Elliot, but he seems unworried. However, Jessica becomes progressively more violent and obsessive with Dolly. To not arouse her father’s suspicion, Jessica acts normal when he is around, but resumes her evil and threatening behavior around her mother. Camilla believes the doll is controlling Jessica. When the daughter speaks harshly in Sanzian tongue, Camilla’s suspicions are proven correct and she tries to warn Marilyn of the evil but is killed by the spirit. The mayhem continues as Jimmy sneaks out the house one night and breaks into the factory from an unlocked window. He finds the night watchman Luis, dead on the floor and flees. It appears as if Luis died from a heart attack but in truth, the dolls had come to life and toyed with him for a while. Struggling to escape, his hand got caught in an active sewing machine. He was able to break free but the sight and shock of the wound was too much. As he was dying, the dolls made haughty giggles nearby.685f9b84b272a61a6924032c3b4d8c19While Marilyn listens to Jimmy pontificate upon his newly acquired knowledge of the Sanzian civilization she comes to the realization that Jessica may truly be possessed and tries to take the doll from her daughter. Jessica warns her mother not to touch the doll, but when Marilyn persists, Sanzia momentarily possesses Jessica and shouts, “I WILL KILL YOU!” before adding “The kid’s mine.” The next day, Marilyn visits the dig for the first time and talks with the archaeologist, Resnick (Rip Torn) about the purpose of their dig. Resnick tells Marilyn that they are searching for the remains of the Sanzia devil child inside the tomb, which hasn’t been opened yet. Resnick continues to explain that the devil child, a true force of evil, fed on the warm blood of children. The tribe eventually killed the creature because its dietary needs almost wiped out the population of the tribe. Marilyn then explains that Jessica is being controlled by her doll and visits Camilla’s sister, a nun at a convent. The nun already knows about her plight but informs her it’s too late. Not giving up, Marilyn decides to take matters into her own hands.dolly_dearest02At home, Marilyn looks for Jessica. Moving stealthily around the house she is frightened by a creaking door behind her. She turns to see Jimmy hiding of the floor of the hallway closet. Jimmy tells her that he’s hiding and that Jessica and Dolly are in Jessica’s room. He also reveals that he’s seen Dolly talk and move. When he mother begins to wonder aloud where the key to Jessica’s room is, Jimmy hands it to her and she heads to Jessica’s room. In the room Dolly reveals its true self to Marilyn. They exchange words, and the battle begins. The mother goes back downstairs, loads ammo into the shotgun and tells Jimmy to call his father. At the factory, the dolls take the phones off the hook. Back at the house Jimmy informs his mother that the line is busy but she tells him to keep trying. Marilyn returns to Jessica’s room to find the doll gone. It becomes a game of cat and mouse.

untitled

While the mother is battling, Jimmy continues to try to contact his father. When he cannot get through, he decides to call the operator. Unfortunately, he is unable to communicate because he doesn’t speak Spanish, so he hangs up and aides his mom. When Jessica becomes separated, the mother snatches her up and the family runs for the front door, only blocked by Dolly, who is holding the car key. Marilyn warns Dolly to move, but Dolly calls to Jessica and says, “Jessica, let’s play with Mommy.” Jessica attacks their mother. The shotgun slides on the floor toward Jimmy, who stands there, stunned. As the mother and daughter struggle, Dolly starts advancing towards them with a kitchen knife. Jimmy clutches the shotgun, and after figuring out how it works, aims it at Dolly. Before pulling the trigger, he says, “Play with this, bitch!” The impact of the bullets sends Dolly crashing through the door, and Jessica becomes herself again. Marilyn, Jessica and Jimmy get in the car and drive to the factory were Elliot is being attacked by the dolls. Meanwhile, the professor enters the tomb and sees the remains of the devil child which has the body of an infant and the head of a goat. Realizing the myth was true, the professor runs to the factory where he saves Elliot from the dolls. They run outside and reunite with Elliot’s family but the professor comes back with dynamite to destroy the factory, and they plant it around the factory. The dolls try to stop them, but fail, and the factory starts to explode, killing the dolls. As the explosions continue, an agonizing demonic scream is heard implying the evil Sanzia spirit is destroyed. The film ends as the family watches the factory burn.bonecos-macabros-parte-21A cheesy horror film but even by todays standards you still jump. Music excellent really builds up the suspence great film all round

REVIEW: BONES – SEASON 3

Starring

Emily Deschanel (Boogeyman)
David Boreanaz (Angel)
Michaela Conlin (Yellowstone)
Eric Millegan (The Phobic)
Tamara Taylor (Lost)
T. J. Thyne (Ghost World)
John Francis Daley (Game Night)

David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Patricia Belcher (Jeepers Creepers)
Raphael Sbarge (Once Upon A Time)
Eugene Byrd (Heroes)
Cynthia Preston (Carrie)
Ryan O’Neal (Love Story)
Deborah Zoe (Guiding Light)
Erich Anderson (Bosch)
Scout Taylor-Compton (Halloween 2007)
Richard Cox (Alpha House)
Ron Canada (Wedding Crashers)
Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead)
Christina Cox (The Chronicles of Riddick)
Erin Chambers (Stargate: Atlantis)
Beth Grant (Wonderfalls)
Denise Crosby (Trekkies)
Rider Strong (Cabin Fever)
Azura Skye (28 Days)
Terry Rhoads (Hitchcock)
Lynsey Bartilson (Grounded for Life)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Sam Jones III (Smallville)
Patrick Fischler (Birds of Prey)
Patrick Fabian (Better Call Saul)
Kristin Bauer van Straten (True Blood)
Bess Wohl (Flightplan)
David DeLuise (Stargate SG.1)
Reginald VelJohnson (Die Hard)
Abigail Spencer (Cowboys and Aliens)
M.C. Gainey (Lost)
Wings Hauser (The Insider)
Chris William Martin (The Vampire Diaries)
Channon Roe (Boogie Nights)
James Black (Anger Management)
Jamil Walker Smith (Stargate Universe)
Daniel Roebuck (Final Destination)
Taylor Kinney (The Forest)
Thomas F. Wilson (Legends of Tomorrow)
Austin O’Brien (Last Action Hero)
Cameron Dye (Smallville)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
George Wyner (Spaceballs)
Loren Dean (Apollo 13)
Ethan Phillips (Star Trek: Voyager)
Ian Reed Kesler (2 Broke Girls)
Geoff Meed (Fast & Furious 5)
Rochelle Aytes (The Purge TV)

David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)BONES keeps on keeping on. Two excellent seasons under its belt, and a truncated Season 3 (damn you, writers’ strike!) finally all wrapped up, and predictably, these are good episodes, as well. But only fifteen of them! As Season 3’s first episode (“The Widow’s Son in the Windshield”) opens up, we learn that Bones has been reluctant to go in the field with Booth and she won’t say why. However, a head flung off a bridge forces her to reconnect with Booth. This episode also begins a new serial killer arc, this one being particularly even more gristly and diabolical than most, and of which resolution later down the season would have tragic consequences.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)Season 3 doles out several other subplots. As per the startling news learned at the altar from Season 2’s finale, Angela is already married. An ongoing story arc becomes Hodgins and Angela’s search for her long-time but vaguely remembered husband. “The Secret of the Soil” introduces Dr. Sweets, a 22 year old psychotherapist assigned to counsel Bones and Booth, this stemming from the FBI’s concern due to Booth having arrested Bones’ father. These sessions are generally funny stuff as, mostly, Booth can’t help but treat Sweets like a kid. Plus, these scenes tend to open things up even more between Bones and Booth.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)I’ve a couple of Season 3 favorites. “The Widow’s Son in the Windshield” introduces the cannibalistic Gormogon killer, which would become a key ongoing story arc of the season. “Mummy in the Maze” is a very neat Halloween show, wherein Booth’s shameful phobia is unveiled and Bones’s costume is…simply awesome. “The Knight on the Grid” is a taut thriller as the Gormagon killer returns, this time with a personal vendetta against Bones and Booth. And “The Santa in the Slush” is a standout sentimental episode and provides one of the best moments in the series as Bones cuts a deal to have Christmas brought to her incarcerated father and brother. Cool ending, too. “The Baby in the Bough” has Bones forced to babysit an infant involved with a case (you see the potential, right?). Meanwhile, “The Wannabe in the Weeds” (in which Zach and Bones both sing) and “The Pain in the Heart” are striking for their ability to stun the audience, even if the latter episode definitely had a rushed feeling to it. I feel that the after-effects of “The Wannabe in the Weeds” should’ve been developed further in “The Pain in the Heart.” In fact, “The Pain in the Heart” – which wraps up the Gormogon killer storyline and, by the way, will upset busloads of fans.David Boreanaz, Tamara Taylor, and T.J. Thyne in Bones (2005)The cases are still bizarre and the corpses borderline grotesque. But the draw remains Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, and that electric “thing” between them. These two still get aces in chemistry, and are still the smokingest hot couple on television. Emily Deschanel continues to nail her role of Temperance “Bones” Brennan. And while her character might’ve loosened up a little bit (not too much), there’s still that endearing naivette and vulnerability which peek out occasionally. And, of course, her refreshing bluntness (some call it social awkwardness) has never left. Boreanaz, he’s just a great leading man. Confident and charming, bristling with machismo, yet with a sensitive side. His unveiling of his Christmas present to Bones in “The Santa in the Slush” is one of the best, most touching scenes of the season.

 

REVIEW: FAMILY GUY – DVD SEASONS 6-10

Image result for family guy logo

MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Seth MacFarlane (Flashforward)
Alex Borstein (Power Rangers Zeo)
Seth Green (IT)
Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
Mike Henry (Ted)
Jennifer Tilly (Curse of Chucky)
Patrick Warburton (Scream 3)
Adam West (60s Batman)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST (VOICES)

Lori Alan (Wall-E)
Ellen Albertini Dow (The Wedding Singer)
Alexandra Breckenridge (She’s The Man)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Phyllis Diller (A Bug’s Life)
Carrie Fisher (Star Wars)
Indigo (Weeds)
Rachael MacFarlane (American Dad)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Stargate SG.1)
Samm Levine (Veronica Mars)
Drew Barrymore (Poison Ivy)
Robert Constanzo (Batman:TAS)
Gary Cole (One Hour Photo)
Taylor Cole (Heroes)
Lauren Conrad (The Hills)
David Cross (Scary Movie 2)
Stacey Scowley (The Brotherhood 2)
Garrett Morris (2 Broke Girls)
Rob Lowe (Code Black)
Ted McGinley (Highlander 2)
Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Charles Durning (The Sting)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder)
Hugh Hefner (Citizen Toxie)
Roy Schneider (Jaws)
Gilbert Gottfried (Anger Management)
Neil Patrick Harris (The Smurfs)
Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Adam Carolla (Road Hard)
Will Sasso (The Three Stooges)
Paula Abdul (Bruno)
Randy Jackson (American Idol)
Simon Cowell (The X Factor)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Ricardo Montalban (Star Trek II)
James Woods (Another Day In Paradise)
Jessica Barth (Ted)
Chace Crawford (Gossip Girl)
Harvey Fierstein (Independence Day)
Bryan Cranston (Drive)
Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)
Elisha Cuthbert (24)
Andy Dick (2 Broke Girls)
Debbie Reynolds (Singin’ In The Rain)
Frank Sinatra Jr. (Cool World)
Mae Whitman (Boogeyman 2)
Meredith Baxter (Family Ties)
Seth Rogen (Bad Neighbours)
Ed Helms (The Hangover)
Fred Savage (The Wonder Years)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)
Denise Crosby (Trekkies)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Jonathan Frakes (Lois & Clark)
Gates McFadden (Star Trek: TNG)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Wil Wheaton (Powers)
Wentworth Miller (Legends of Tomorrow)
Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World)
Jay Leno (The Simpsons)
Richard Dreyfuss (Tin Man)
John Ross Bowie (The Big Bang Theory)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Veronica Mars)
Chevy Chase (Chuck)
Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters)
Hart Bochner (urban Legends 2)
Christine Lakin (Valentine’s Day)
Brittany Snow (Prom Night)
Nana Visitor (Star Trek: DS9)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
Hugh Laurie (House)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Dwayne Johnson (Faster)
Adrianne Palicki (Agents of SHIELD)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Lucas Grabeel (Smallville)
Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises)
Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men)
Danielle Panabaker (The Flash)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
David Lynch (The Cleveland Show)
Sanaa Lathan (Blade)
Shelley Long (Cheers)

At this point in the series, the beginning of the fifth season, the show has settled into being a showcase for Peter’s stupidity, throwing a bone to Brian and Stewie once in a while, and occasionally Lois and family. Only four of the 13 episodes aren’t focused on the head of the family, and unsurprisingly, the two of those four that aren’t Brian and Stewie stories are two of the best in the volume, “Prick Up Your Ears” and “Barely Legal.”
Barelylegal_fsn109
While it’s easy to see where an episode can go, one of the show’s biggest strengths is its willingness to do anything to get there, even if it won’t make it to TV, because they know that there will be a DVD release. Thus, you have jokes that would never get past standards and practices, and a reason for the show’s fans to check out the DVDs, as the episodes are expanded and uncensored. It has to be incredibly freeing to have almost no boundaries, and the writers take full advantage of it. It’s in this relatively free medium that a character like Quagmire, who has no filter and is obsessed with sex, can really shine. His behavior in “Bill and Peter’s Bogus Journey” is actually very funny simply because of how utterly obscene he can be on DVD.
As noted before, “Prick Up Your Ears” and “Barely Legal” are two of the best episodes in this collection, both of which feature the Griffins’ daughter Meg, voiced by Mila Kunis (“That ’70s Show”.) Meg’s character has grown up a bit, though she remains an awkward teen, and these two episodes focus on her explorations into love and lust. “Prick Up Your Ears” is a smart jab at the conservative Christian approach to sex education, and the effect it has on Meg, as well as Peter, is great, while “Barely Legal” show’s Meg’s crazier side, as she falls in love with Brian after they make out at her prom. A joke that’s born out of Meg’s insanity and efforts to woo Brian is among the series’ funniest, and again, one you only get on DVD. Also worth checking out is the B-story of “Mother Tucker,” in which Brian and Stewie host a morning zoo radio show. It’s a perfect parody of everything that’s wrong in radio.
The show’s guest-star list continues to be surprising in both its depth and quality, including Phyllis Diller (as Peter’s mom), Gore Vidal, Samm Levine, Carrie Fisher, Drew Barrymore (playing Jillian, Brian’s hot, but dumb girlfriend in several episodes), David Cross, Rob Lowe, Hugh Hefner and Roy Scheider. That the series can get a Gore Vidal to play himself getting shot in the mouth with a hot dog (it’s actually a funny scene, but not for that reason) is impressive.

This latest offering from the ‘Family Guy’ team finds the writers and producers doing their best to be more outrageous than ever before. No celebrity is too big to ridicule and absolutely no topic is considered too taboo.


But the acid test is this: when being profane and attacking and offending every minority group in existence, is it actually funny? The short answer is `yes’. This is not merely funny, it is very funny indeed. Rosie O’Donnell features in one particularly insulting sequence, and when Joe has a leg transplant and becomes his old active self, the guys decide the only way to fix things is to `re-cripple him again’. This is quite literally the most non-PC programme ever put on your TV screen, but it contains more invention and (frequently hilarious) jokes per minute than practically any sitcom. Highlights are two numerous to mention, but I particularly enjoyed the sofa at Quagmire’s shack and Peter’s stripper-cop routine at his daughter Meg’s hen night. Shocking stuff!

Only downside is the first two episodes were put out separately as the `Star Wars’ spoof `Blue Harvest’, so this pack is a little light at only 13 episodes.

another great Family Guy set Some of the best episodes include the one where Stewie helps Frank Sinatra Jr turn his fortune around with a club; the one where Peter meets Jesus; the one where Quagmire, Joe and Peter do Jackass style stunts, and the one where Mort ends up transporting himself to 1940’s Poland.


Even though everyone hates the episode, the one with Surfing Bird is a great episode, especially the parody with Stewie and Brian doing a scene from Office Space. Some people say it’s not Seth’s best moment, but it’s memorable like the chicken fight in series 6 and Brian being ribbed about his book by Stewie (“has it got a beginning, and end and a narrative?”

Highlights of this latest season to name a few include Brian committing murder, Quagmire becoming a Father, the truth behind Hannah Montana, Major West being ‘activated’ and the genius “Road to The Multiverse” which in my opinion is one of the greatest episodes within the last few seasons if not the entire collection.

Many of the episodes are extended when compared to their TV counterparts (blame the censors) along with dozens of deleted scenes which will keep even the most devoted or demanding Family Guy fan happy. Other special features worth noting are the Multi-verse featurette which was pretty interesting along with commentaries from cast and crew alike.

Despite being cancelled twice the show is still going strong and still offers brilliant humor, dialogue and cutback scenes after all this time. The characters continue to amuse and develop as the seasons progress (Stewie on Steroids stroke of brilliance) and there is plenty of scope for the future. The vast majority of the episodes are gold. I’ve already mentioned Multi-verse but also up there is “Dog Gone”.

If further proof is needed as to the series’ ability to succeed without its usual crutches, it can be found in “And Then There Were Fewer…” a mystery in Family Guy clothing. Series semi-regular James Woods gathers the town people for dinner, hoping to atone for his past wrongs, but someone starts bumping them off, leaving the group to figure out who the killer is and escape with their lives. Though the cutaways are present, they are worked into a genuine storyline, that’s both well-crafted and funny, feeling like a quality parody of the Agatha Christie school of mysteries. It may be close to blasphemy to say so, but there’s definitely a touch of Clue to the proceedings. The quality story is matched step-by-step by the animation (in the series’ first widescreen episode) and music, both of which may be the best the show’s ever produced (which is no feint praise.) The series may find itself in a rut at times, going to the same comedy well again and again, but when inspiration strikes, they take the show to another level.
As is often the case with this series, there’s always an attempt to push the envelope, including episodes focusing on suicide and sex changes, but “Extra Large Medium” is one of the show’s most controversial to reach airwaves, and it’s mainly due to a throwaway joke. Following a life-changing event, Chris (Seth Green) decides to finally ask out a girl he likes, and it so happens that she has Down’s syndrome. This leads to one of the finest songs the show’s produced to date in “Down’s Syndrome Girl,” as well as a line where the girl notes that he mom was the former governor of Alaska. It’s hard to figure out what the joke really is (it’s not really making fun of anyone, be it Palin or people with Down’s) but it pissed off a lot of people. Fortunately, the rest of the episode, especially that song, makes the headaches worth it, as Chris struggles with his feelings for his special gal and Brian’s attempts to break Lois of her belief in psychics accidentally convinces Peter he actually is psychic.
Though the series proudly sees the world from a liberal point-of-view, savaging republicans and conservatives at every chance, “Excellence in Broadcasting” stands as an unusual team-up, with Rush Limbaugh giving voice to himself, as he visits Quahog and gets what could be considered a friendly reception (at least by Family Guy standards.) Yes, there are jokes about the Republicans and Limbaugh himself, but he doesn’t get it too rough, and if anyone comes off badly, it’s Brian, who is easily swayed by Limbaugh into selling out his own convictions. It’s rather odd to see, and makes one wonder what went on behind the scenes to make it happen, as MacFarlane doesn’t seem the type to play nice, and the idea of Limbaugh working in tandem with an atheist pot advocate is mind-bending.

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.