REVIEW: LEGENDS OF TOMORROW – SEASON 2

DC's_Legends_of_Tomorrow_season_2_poster_-_A_Mission_For_All_Time

Starring

Victor Garber (Alias)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Franz Drameh (See)
Matt Letscher (Her)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (The Originals)
Amy Louise Pemberton (The Laundromat)
Nick Zano (2 Broke Girls)
Dominic Purcell (Prison Break)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Neal McDonough (Van Helsing)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
John Rubinstein (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Matthew MacCaull (Tomorrowland)
Sarah Grey (Power Rangers)
Rebecca Roberts (Pompeii)
Patrick J. Adams (Suits)
Mei Melançon (Pathology)
Sab Shimono (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)
Grant Gustin (Glee)
Emily Tennant (Mr. Young)
Lance Henriksen (Aliens)
Graeme McComb (Bates Motel)
Johnathon Schaech (Prom Night)
Christina Brucato (The Intern)
Jeff Fahey (The Lawnmower Man)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Melissa Benoist (Jay & Silent Bob Reboot)
Donnelly Rhodes (Battlestar Galactica)
Lucia Walters (The 100)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
Noel Johansen (Somewhere Between)
Elyse Levesque (The Originals)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Katie Cassidy (Gossip Girl)

Brandon Routh in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)DC’s Legends of Tomorrow was a solid addition to The CW’s superhero lineup in its first season. Sure , the show had problems, but the ensemble approach and time travel elements definitely set it apart from the likes of The Flash and Arrow. But in hindsight, Season 1 seems like a test-run for the show Legends would become in its second season. This year, the show trimmed most of what didn’t work and replaced it with elements that did. As a result, Legends became not just the best superhero series on The CW, but quite possibly on any network.Kwesi Ameyaw, Matthew MacCaull, Dan Payne, Patrick J. Adams, Sarah Grey, and Maisie Richardson-Sellers in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)A lot of what didn’t work about Season 1 can be pinned squarely on the shoulders of Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) and his millennia-long feud with Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée) and Hawkman (Falk Hentschel). But with Savage being decisively killed off and the Hawks shuffled off the main stage in the Season 1 finale, the show was free to move forward in the Season 2 premiere, “Out of Time.” And move forward it did.
Surprisingly, “Out of Time” didn’t pick up directly from Season 1’s cliffhanger and the introduction of Rex Tyler (Patrick J. Adams). Instead, the season opened with a weird but engaging detour that saw newcomer Nate Heywood (Nick Zano) turn to Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) for help in tracking down the time-displaced Legends. That served as a great introduction for Nate and a fun way of reconnecting with the old gang one by one. Nate almost immediately settled in as a valuable new addition to the team dynamic, what with his brotherly bond with Atom (Brandon Routh) and his seemingly doomed romance with Vixen (Maisie Richardson-Sellers).Vixen proved to be another strong addition to the mix. Richardson-Sellers faced a bit of an uphill battle early on considering that Arrow had already introduced a different version of the character in live-action. But the writers worked in this “recasting” in a clever way, and it wasn’t long before Amaya emerged as a character very distinct from her granddaughter in terms of personality and motivations.
Victor Garber, Dominic Purcell, Brandon Routh, Nick Zano, Caity Lotz, Franz Drameh, and Maisie Richardson-Sellers in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)The Hawks weren’t the only characters to be pruned from the cast for Season 2. Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) was also gone, though he served as much use in death as he did in life when it came to advancing Heat Wave’s (Dominic Purcell) character arc. Rory’s struggle to accept the Legends as his new family was easily one of the most compelling storylines of this season, and that arc became all the more crucial in the final few episodes.Johnathon Schaech and Caity Lotz in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) also played a drastically different role this season. He more or less sat out the first half of the season, with his whereabouts (or whenabouts) a mystery and his absence forcing White Canary (Caity Lotz) to step up as team captain. That was another inspired change, one that built on several years’ of growth Sara has experienced on both this show and Arrow. And even when Rip did resurface in the latter half of the season, his role constantly shifted and defied expectations. He was an antagonist to the team this year as often as he was an ally.
David Ramsey, Brandon Routh, Nick Zano, Stephen Amell, Melissa Benoist, Franz Drameh, Grant Gustin, and Maisie Richardson-Sellers in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)If any character didn’t quite receive the attention they deserved this year, it was Jax (Franz Drameh). While his partner Professor Stein (Victor Garber) dealt with some rather drastic time aberration problems, Jax never really seemed to have a overarching struggle this season. That’s something the writers might want to focus on in Season 3. The conflict in Season 1 was propelled mainly by Rip’s efforts to stop Vandal Savage and prevent the deaths of his family. Season 2 took a little while to develop its own clear mission statement. The first couple episodes offered a fun crossover with the WWII-era Justice Society, but after that the show lost some momentum while the writers worked to establish the true conflict. That spawned a couple of relatively weaker episodes like “Shogun,” where it seemed like the team was doing little more than ticking off boxes on their historical guidebooks. “Outlaw Country” was another relative disappointment, as it didn’t quite justify the decision to send the team back to the Wild West and reunite with Jonah Hex (Johnathon Schaech).John Barrowman in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)However, the show was off to the races again once the Legion of Doom was introduced and the Spear of Destiny emerged as the major catalyst for Season 2. MacGuffin or not, the Spear was a compelling plot device, and one that reminded viewers once again that the Arrow-verse writers are willing to dig very deep when it comes to taking advantage of the rich tapestry that is the DC Universe. By the time the show reached the midseason finale point with “The Chicago Way” it built up a newfound momentum that carried it right along to the finish.Matt Letscher in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)The Legion themselves also provided the show with the compelling, enjoyable villain it lacked in Season 1. Sure, you could argue that the show played it safe by drawing on a handful of popular villains from The Flash and Arrow rather than introducing a new threat. But half the fun of serialized superhero universes is watching heroes and villains alike grow and evolve. Legends’ take on the Legion built directly on the idea that all of these villains had failed on their own, and all sought the Spear of Destiny as a means of rewriting their own histories. Plus, it was just plain fun to watch Reverse-Flash (Matt Letscher), Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) and Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) interact. You can’t throw three hotheaded, self-interested villains into one room and not expect tempers to flare and betrayal to flow like wine. Letscher was particularly engaging all season long, doing a lot to stand out in a role that had previously been dominated by Tom Cavanagh. Thawne worked as a villain because his goals were so simple and understandable. Thawne’s role and the surprise return of another villain built very cleverly on the foundation laid in The Flash’s first two seasons.There was ample drama to go around over the course of these 17 episodes, whether that involved Rip’s shifting motivations, Amaya confronting her inevitable destiny or Rory trying to find his purpose in a world without Snart. The final few episodes capitalized on that drama well, tying up a number of loose ends and further establishing the Legends as a close-knit but very dysfunctional family.Brandon Routh, Elyse Levesque, Nick Zano, Caity Lotz, Franz Drameh, and Maisie Richardson-Sellers in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)At the same time, the show developed a very terrific sense of humor this year, and that was probably its strongest asset. Legends became the much-needed antidote to the DC Extended Universe, a place where color doesn’t exist and no one seems to remember how to crack a smile. And with Arrow and The Flash both moving in darker directions this year, Legends was frequently a welcome and much-needed source of levity each week. You can point to any number of standout moments where Legends allowed its writers and actors to revel in being silly. There was the hilarious and unexpected musical number in “Moonshot.” There was the fact that the team found themselves trapped in a garbage compactor with a young George Lucas. There was Ray using Tyrannosaur urine as a means of creating a barrier around his prehistoric fort. Week after week, the cast and crew embraced the goofy side of the DCU and crafted a show that was as much about the thrill of adventure as it was costumed character drama and plot twists.

REVIEW: THE FLASH – SEASON 3

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Starring

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Keiynan Lonsdale (THe Turning)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)
Tom Felton (Harry Potter)

Matt Letscher and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Alex Désert (Swingers)
Michelle Harrison (Tru Calling)
Matt Letscher (Her)
Todd Lasance (The Vampire Diaries)
John Wesley Shipp (Dawson’s Creek)
Tobin Bell (Saw)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Joey King (Slender Man)
Violett Beane (God Friended Me)
Peter Flemming (Staragte SG.1)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Danielle Nicolet (Central Intelligence)
Grey Damon (Aquarius)
Ashley Rickards (Pretty Little Stalker)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Susan Walters (The Vampire Diaries)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Victor Garber (The Orville)
Franz Drameh (See)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Dominic Purcell (Prison Break)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Christina Brucato (The Intern)
Donnelly Rhodes (Battlestar Galactica)
Jerry Wasserman (I, Robot)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Nicholas Gonzalez (Sleepy Hollow)
Jessica Camacho (Watchmen: The Series)
Stephen Huszar (Faces In The Crowd)
Andrea Brooks (When Calls The Heart)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Vanessa Williams (Candyman)
Robbie Amell (The Duff)
Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
David Harewood (Homeland)
Jeremy Jordan (The Last Five Years)
Chris Wood (The Vampire Diaries)
Darren Criss (Glee)
David Dastmalchian (Reprisal)
Anne Dudek (White Chicks)

 

John Wesley Shipp and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)Season 3 appears to be the real test for The CW’s Arrowverse shows. Arrow followed up its first two seasons with a much rockier third season, leaving that series in a hole of which it’s only just now managed to climb out. The Flash went through a similar series of hurdles this year. The Flash: Season 3 was noticeably more uneven than its predecessors, suggesting that maybe Barry Allen’s best days are behind him. Luckily, the show was able to recapture its footing where Arrow continued to struggle. The strong last couple months of the season went a long way towards making up for the mistakes that came before.Grant Gustin and Violett Beane in The Flash (2014)It was clear right away that Season 3 faced a long, uphill battle. Season 2 ended with an exciting cliffhanger, as Barry (Grant Gustin) traveled back in time, undid his parents’ deaths and created the alternate timeline known as Flashpoint. Anyone who’s read the Flashpoint comic or watched the animated movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox was surely salivating at the thought of seeing a twisted, dystopian vision of the Arrowverse. What the premiere episode, “Flashpoint,” actually delivered was slightly less exciting. Aside from a few key differences, this world wasn’t a particularly dramatic change from the norm. There was still a definite appeal in seeing Barry briefly granted the happy, quiet life he’s always dreamed of.Tobin Bell in The Flash (2014)
Looking back at  the first half of Season 3, it wasn’t until the midseason finale that any episode scored above the low 8 range. That pretty much encapsulates the problems with the season right there. The show was often perfectly fine on a week-to-week basis, but it was rare for any episode to really stand out from the pack. The general status quo in the first half of the season too often struggled to measure up to the Reverse-Flash and Zoom conflicts from seasons past. The end result of Barry’s three months spent living in Flashpoint was a handful of changes to the Team Flash dynamic, many of which became all but irrelevant after a week or two. Flashpoint also resulted in the rise of two new villains – Doctor Alchemy and Savitar (both voiced by Tobin Bell). Alchemy never amounted to much more than a shadowy, mysterious string-puller, while it wasn’t until the final few episodes of the season that Savitar truly came into his own.Danielle Panabaker in The Flash (2014)There was plenty of character drama to work through early on, much of it the direct result of Barry’s time-meddling. Iris (Candice Patton) and Joe (Jesse L. Martin) dealt with a mutual estrangement. Cisco (Carlos Valdes) mourned the death of someone close to him. Both Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) dealt with the spontaneous appearance of metahuman powers (with the former dreading her transformations into Killer Frost and the latter relishing his opportunity to follow in Barry’s footsteps). That’s to say nothing of the complications created by Barry’s new co-worker/frenemy, Julian Desmond (Tom Felton). When all else failed, the Team Flash family drama could usually be relied upon to keep the show humming along.Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)Julian proved an entertaining and somewhat unpredictable addition to the recurring cast, adding a unique voice and temperament to the Team Flash dynamic. But the best addition this year was H.R. (Tom Cavanagh), the latest alternate universe incarnation of Harrison Wells. It’s part of The Flash’s charm that there must always be a Wells in the picture, even if Cisco and friends have to go on a recruitment drive to find one. Cavanagh again proved to be one of the show’s MVP’s, playing H.R. as a wholly distinct character compared to Season 1’s Dr. Wells and Season 2’s Harry. There were even a few opportunities to see Cavanagh play multiple Wellses in the same scene, just for kicks.Grant Gustin and Keiynan Lonsdale in The Flash (2014)

This season also got a lot of mileage out of John Wesley Shipp’s new role as the real Jay Garrick. Like Cavanagh, Shipp successfully managed to set his new character apart from the old, casting Jay as a grizzled veteran not entirely comfortable with his status as mentor to Barry and his fellow speedsters. The only complaint here is that the season never used Jay as often as it could. That was especially true with the midseason finale, “The Present,” which offered a tantalizingly brief glimpse of Jay’s rivalry with Earth-3’s Trickster (Mark Hamill).Grant Gustin, Keiynan Lonsdale, and Violett Beane in The Flash (2014)Looking back, the one character who felt oddly underutilized this year was Wally. On paper, it was a big year for Wally, as he gained his speed powers and took his place alongside Barry. That paved the way for several memorable speedster team-ups (including one with Violett Beane’s Jesse Quick thrown in for good measure). But there was a specific point in the season where it seemed like the writers completely lost interest in Wally. He all but completely faded to the background and never recovered as a result. Andre Tricoteux in The Flash (2014)The character drama gave the early episodes weight where villains like Alchemy faltered, but that drama brought about its own set of problems. Not only was the scope of Flashpoint itself disappointingly limited, the fallout often felt small and perfunctory. Some subplots, particularly the Joe/Iris rift, were quickly resolved and forgotten, almost like they never happened at all. And at some point, the series simply felt too mired in darkness. Character drama is great, but this series has always thrived on its ability to balance that drama with lighthearted adventure and that ever-important sense of hope. But Barry Allen became more morose than ever this year, and his misery seemed to envelop everyone around him. It didn’t help that The Flash was airing new episodes at the same time as fellow Arrow-verse/CW series Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, two shows that did a much better job of balancing character drama with lighthearted fun this year.Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)Once the reveal came and Savitar’s true endgame became apparent. The final five episodes went a long way towards reviving the Savitar conflict and building the character into someone worthy of Reverse-Flash and Zoom. That doesn’t necessarily excuse the writers for keeping their cards close to the vest for so long, nor their decision to focus on a third speedster villain when there are so many other worthy Flash villains who haven’t gotten their due yet.. But at the same time, the reveal did make it apparent why that prolonged secrecy was necessary. Moreover, the reveal wound up tying the season together, forcing Barry to confront his mistakes and his habit of being the architect of much of his own misery. For a villain who remained so aloof for much of the season, Savitar wound up becoming a surprisingly personal villain in the end.Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)It also didn’t hurt that the later episodes placed so much emphasis on Caitlin’s fall from grace. I still maintain that Killer Frost should have been the central villain of Season 3. But even as a supporting player in the Savitar conflict, Caitlin added a great deal of dramatic weight to the series, with the writers banking heavily on the strong bond linking Barry, Cisco and Caitlin and the tragedy that arose when those bonds were shattered. This was also a valuable chance for Panabaker to play Killer Frost not as an overt villain, but someone torn between her twisted metahuman side and the good, loyal friend that still remained within.
As for the dark tone, it’s no coincidence that some of the best episodes this season were those that diverged from the Savitar conflict and focused on the lighter side of Barry’s world. The two-part Gorilla Grodd storyline was very entertaining, offering fans their first real glimpse of Earth-2’s Gorilla City and suggesting that Grodd would make for an excellent recurring villain if not for the sheer expense involved in bringing the character to life. The series even took the opportunity to throw in a little levity right before the end, as “Infantino Street” offered a wonderfully entertaining Flash/Captain Cold team-up before moving into the dramatic fallout of Savitar’s final attack.But nowhere did the series shine brighter this season than in the long-awaited musical episode/Supergirl crossover “Duet.” For one glorious hour, all the darkness fell away and Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist were given free reign to sing, dance and just have fun playing superheroes. It certainly didn’t hurt that so many actors involved, including Victor Garber, John Barrowman and Jesse L. Martin have serious musical theater chops of their own. Not only did that episode strongly suggest that the musical crossover needs to become an annual tradition, it served as a crucial reminder of how enthralling The Flash can be when it focuses on the lighter side of Barry Allen’s life. Hopefully that episode, and the generally improved state of the series in the second half of Season 3, are signs of what to expect when the show returns in the fall.
The Flash: Season 3 is a clear step down from the show’s first two years. It’s not that there were many truly bad episodes this year, but more that the show struggled too long to find a compelling status quo and make the most of the fallout from “Flashpoint.” Some of the best episodes this season had little to do with the overarching Savitar conflict. Luckily, the show did find its footing in the final two months of Season 3, and that strong finish went a long way toward redeeming the season as a whole.

REVIEW: THE FLASH – SEASON 2

 

Starring

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Keiynan Lonsdale (THe Turning)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)

Tom Cavanagh, Adam Copeland, Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, and Carlos Valdes in The Flash (2014)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Victor Garber (The Orville)
Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Dominic Purcell (Prison Break)
Robbie Amell (The Duff)
Teddy Sears (The Politician)
Vito D’Ambrosio (Bones)
Isabella Hofmann (Burlesque)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Adam Copeland (Highlander: Endgame)
Aaron Craven (Izombie)
Logan Williams (When Calls Your Heart)
Shantel VanSanten (For All Mankind)
Vanessa Williams (Candyman)
Tony Todd (Final Destination)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Malese Jow (The Shanara Chronicles)
Peyton List (Gotham)
Franz Drameh (See)
Demore Barnes (Titans)
John Wesley Shipp (Dawson’s Creek)
Amanda Pays (Max Headroom)
Greg Kean (Dead Like Me)
Kirby Morrow (Staragte Atlantis)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Violett Beane (God Friended Me)
Ciara Renée (The Big Bang Theory)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
Willa Holland (Legion)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Neal McDonough (Van Helsing)
Casper Crump (The Legend of Tarzan)
Falk Hentschel (Knight and Day)
Anna Hopkins (Shadowhunters)
Jack Moore (Repiblic of Sarah)
Liam McIntyre (The Legend of Hercules)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Matt Letscher (Her)
Morena Baccarin (Deadpool)
Michael Rowe (Tomorrowland)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Allison Paige (Good Trouble)
Andy Mientus (Gone)
Nicholas Gonzalez (Sleepy Hollow)
Michelle Harrison (Tru Calling)
Jason Mewes (Jay & Silent Bob Reboot)
Greg Finley (Izombie)
Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas 2006)

Teddy Sears in The Flash (2014)The Flash’s first season has become the benchmark by which all other DC Comics-based shows on The CW are judged. It offered a truly winning blend of humor, heart, and romance, and superhero action, culminating in a terrific season finale that showed just how much emotional depth there is to the story of the fastest man alive. The cast and crew faced a real uphill battle in living up to the standard with Season 2. And more often than not, they succeeded. This season met and occasionally even exceeded the heights of its predecessor.Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)Season 2 got off to a solid start as the writers explored the fallout of Season 1’s big cliffhanger. But rather than pick up right where “Fast Enough” left off – with a giant temporal vortex threatening to swallow up Central City – “The Man Who Saved Central City” jumped ahead several months to the somber aftermath. The question wasn’t whether Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) could save his city once again, it was what kind of life Barry would return to when he got back. As we saw, it was a pretty lonely existence. The premiere opened on a surprisingly somber note, but one that offered an effective look at Barry’s fragile emotional state and the current status quo of Team Flash, including Cisco, (Carlos Valdes), Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) Iris (Candice Patton) and Joe (Jesse L. Martin).Tony Todd in The Flash (2014)That darkness was a way to bring the gang back together while reminding viewers that many challenges awaited Barry even after defeating Reverse-Flash (Tom Cavanagh).Image result for the flash versus zoomEven as those early episodes touched base with some familiar faces from Season 1 (including Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold and Peyton List’s Golden Glider), they also spent a great deal of time setting the stage for the next major villain in Barry’s life, Zoom. Rather than continue to rely on the familiar Season 1 formula, where Barry and his friends battled various metahuman villains spawned by the particle accelerator accident – this year they confronted foes like Atom-Smasher (Adam Copeland) and Sand Demon (Kett Turton) who crossed over from Earth-2 to Earth-1. The addition of parallel worlds this season wasn’t just the latest example of Greg Berlanti and friends delving into all corners of DC’s mythology, it was a fun shake-up that resulted in a wealth of both comedy and drama.David Sobolov and Danielle Panabaker in The Flash (2014)Seeing characters like Cisco, Caitlin and Linda Park (Malese Jow) face off with their alternate universe doppelgangers never got old.No character benefited more from the doppelganger concept than Harrison Wells. Wells might have died at the end of Season 1, but thankfully the writers found a way to bring the character back in a very different role. Earth-2’s Dr. Wells made the trip to Earth-1 and began assisting Team Flash in their ongoing fight against Zoom. Cavanagh excelled in his rejiggered role. He consistently played this new Wells as a much different character than the cold, calculating villain of Season 1. This Wells was all nervous, agitated energy, driven by nothing but a desire to stop Zoom and rescue his daughter, Jesse (Violett Beane).Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)His character arc was among the strongest of the season, as Wells formed close bonds with his new friends and worked to counteract some of the destruction his counterpart wreaked on Barry’s life. Most of the cast benefited from the ongoing Earth-1/Earth-2 status quo this year. Grant Gustin was frequently a highlight of the show as he explored Barry’s lingering guilt and heartache after briefly reuniting with his mother and tried to disprove the parting message from earth-1 Wells – the idea that he’d never allow himself to be truly happy. Wells’ words proved distressingly accurate and on-point over the course of the season. Barry went through a lot of emotional highs and lows this season, including a second tear-jerking, phone call reunion with his mother in “Welcome to Earth-2” and multiple traumatic clashes with Zoom. To their credit, the writers didn’t try to force a happy ending out of Barry’s arc, either. By the end of the finale, Barry was at an even lower point than he was a year before, which fuelled his decision to make another ill-advised trip back in time.Mark Hamill in The Flash (2014)He’ll no doubt be dealing with the consequences of that act for some time to come.Image result for the flash welcome to earth-2Both Cisco and Caitlin frequently stood out this year, as well. Cisco always served as a reliable source of comic relief, particularly as his bond with Wells deepened and the two bickered with one another. But on a deeper level, this season allowed Cisco to come into his own as a hero. He grew more familiar with his powers, even finally adopting the name and trademark glasses of Vibe. He caught a glimpse of what he could become when he met his doppelganger, Reverb, and began testing the limits of his courage and his abilities. Similarly, Caitlin was shown a glimpse of the villain she could become when she met Killer Frost. But even after her failed romance with Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears) and subsequent ordeal at the hands of Zoom, Caitlin never lost her heroic streak.Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)If the writers ever decide to morph her into Killer Frost for real, that’s going to be one devastating emotional gut punch.The Flash also deserves credit for the way the writers are able to weave romantic drama into the narrative without it coming across as forced. The ongoing romance between Barry and Patty Spivot (Shantel Van Santen) was always entertaining, thanks in large part to the stellar chemistry between Gustin and Van Santen. And if Iris was never the most compelling character in any given episode, she definitely improved this year thanks to her more proactive behaviour and her deepening bond with Barry.Image result for the flash invincibleThen there was the debut of Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) to the Team Flash lineup. Looking back, I’m not entirely convinced Wally needed to be introduced this year.Danielle Panabaker and Robbie Amell in The Flash (2014)With everything else going on this season it didn’t always feel as though the character received the attention he deserved. But Lonsdale proved to be a solid addition to the cast nonetheless. And despite all the foreshadowing, at least the writers weren’t overzealous in terms of rushing Wally into becoming a speedster. There’s plenty of time for that in a later season.Image result for the flash the race of his lifeThere was a lot to love about Season 2. At its best, this season was easily a rival to its predecessor. “Welcome to Earth-2” stands as probably the best single episode the show has delivered to date, with episodes like “Flash Back,” “Rupture” and “The Runaway Dinosaur” also ranking among the best.Image result for the flash the race of his lifeThe Villain of the year was Zoom.Tony Todd and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)This villain was tricky in that he was simultaneously one of the best aspects of the season. Zoom left a pretty strong impression during his first clash with Barry in “Enter Zoom.” Between the demonic costume and the gravely rasp of voice actor Tony Todd, Zoom was by far the scariest and most physically imposing villain Team Flash had yet encountered. That certainly counted for something. Zoom’s characterization was even more intriguing in the second half of the season unfolded. We learned much more about the villain’s past and motivations, including the big twist that Zoom was actually Hunter Zolomon/Jay Garrick and that Team Flash’s newest ally was no ally at all. With all the emphasis on doppelgangers this season, it was fitting that Zoom himself was really Barry’s dark mirror. Both men had childhood’s defined by similar tragedies and grew up to become speedsters. But whereas Barry had a close circle of friends and family to help guide him along his way, Hunter had no one.Tom Cavanagh and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)He was utterly alone on his world and all others, and that gave the villain the humanity and pathos he needed. And it was nice to see the writers acknowledge just how crucial characters like Joe, Cisco and Caitlin are to the show. Without them, Barry would be as empty as Zoom.Image result for the flash the race of his lifeThe season finale, “The Race of His Life,” was a great way to wrap up Season Zoom’s defeat was satisfying and his metamorphosis at the end was intriguing,Teddy Sears in The Flash (2014)Also in the finale there was the reveal of the real Jay Garrick, an act which allowed Shipp to don a Flash costume for the first time in decades, then there was the final cliffhanger, with Barry traveling back in time and almost certainly sparking the beginning of a Flashpoint-inspired status quo for the series. That alone is cause to be excited for Season 3.Image result for the flash the race of his lifeThe Flash season 2 was firing on all cylinders and continued through too the end top form an awesome season and leaves you hanging waiting for season 3.

REVIEW: THE FLASH – SEASON 1

 

Starring

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Michelle Harrison (Tru Calling)
Chad Rook (Timeless)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Al Sapienza (Suits)
John Wesley Shipp (Dawson’s Creek)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Fulvio Cecere (Dark Angel)
Olivia Cheng (Warrior)
Jennifer Cheon Garcia (Van Helsing)
Brendon Zub (Batwoman)
Logan Williams (When Calls Your Heart)
William Sadler (Iron Man 3)
Robbie Amell (The Duff)
Anthony Carrigan (Gotham)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Dominic Purcell (Prison Break)
Kelly Frye (Criminal Minds)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Greg Finley (Izombie)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Morena Baccarin (Deadpool)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Paul Anthony (Blade: Trinity)
Anna Hopkins (Shadowhunters)
Amanda Pays (Max Headroom)
David Milchard (Sanctuary)
Roger Howarth (One Life To Live)
Andy Mientus (Gone)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Victor Garber (The Orville)
Malese Jow (The Shanara Chronicles)
Britne Oldford (Blindspot)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Isabella Hofmann (Burlesque)
Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas 2006)
Chase Masterson (Star Trek: DS9)
Liam McIntyre (The Legend of Hercules)
Nicholas Gonzalez (Sleepy Hollow)
Peyton List (Gotham)
Paul Blackthorne (Arrow)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Matt Letscher (Her)
Bre Blair (Game of Silence)
Vito D’Ambrosio (Bones)
Devon Graye (13 Sins)
Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Danielle Nicolet (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Peter Bryant (See)
Doug Jones (Star Trek Discovery)
Ciara Renée (The Big Bang Theory)

 

The Flash was unique in its first season in the sense that it never really needed to find itself or grow into something better. It simply started strong and continually got better over the course of seven months. Much of the credit rests with the fact that the Flash was hardly starting from scratch. This show is the first spinoff of Arrow and its growing superhero universe. It features many of the same producers as Arrow and several writers responsible for Arrow’s stellar second season. Not only did The Flash not have to waste much time establishing its universe, it didn’t even have to introduce viewers to its protagonist. Grant Gustin debuted as a pre-speedster Barry Allen midway through Arrow’s second season, culminating with the accident that created the Flash. By the time this show came around, viewers already knew Barry, what made him tick and what fueled his particular quest.Gustin rapidly grew into the role of Barry Allen once the spotlight was placed on him. Gustin brought a winning blend of youthful energy, latent pathos and Peter Parker-esque awkwardness to the table. He gave us a Barry Allen that’s impossible not to connect with. Barry is immensely likable. He’s less intense than Stephen Amell’s Oliver Queen. He’s driven by tragedy but anchored by a small family unit. He’s faithful to the comic book Barry Allen. One of the main reasons for The Flash’s success, though, was its supporting cast. So much of the drama and the emotional core of the show centered around Barry’s ties to his core circle of friends, family and allies.Kelly Frye and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)There was his adoptive father, Joe West (Jesse L. Martin). There was his adoptive sister/unrequited love, Iris (Candice Patton), a dichotomy that never came across as creepy or incest-y as it could have. There was his newfound father figure/mentor in Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh). There were his new friends/partners in metahuman-busting, Dr. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes). And rounding out the core cast was Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett), Barry’s colleague and sometimes rival/sometimes ally.The show exploited these various relationships to great effect. Above all, the father/son relationships between Barry/Joe and Barry/Wells were the source of great drama. Martin and Cavanagh were the MVPs among the cast. Martin brought a crucial warmth to his role as a concerned father and a man simply baffled by the increasingly bizarre state of life in Central City. Cavanagh, meanwhile, helped mold Wells into the show’s most captivating figure. It quickly became apparent that Wells was far more than he seemed, eventually emerging as the primary antagonist of Season 1.Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)But thanks to Cavanagh’s performance, it was always apparent that Wells cared for Barry even as he plotted and schemed and tormented the hero.Caitlin and Cisco became increasingly compelling characters in their own right as the season progressed. Caitlin, initially cold and a little haughty, grew as her relationship with Barry blossomed and her past relationship with Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell) came to light. Cisco was largely a comic relief character at first. And while he remained the show’s most reliable source of comedy, he too was fleshed out and developed a father/son connection to Wells of his own.Iris and Eddie were a little more uneven when it came to their respective roles within the show. At times it was easy to forget about Eddie given his tendency to drop out of view. However, he definitely became an integral player in the final couple months of the season.Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)I appreciated how the writers never took a one-note approach with Eddie. He may have been Barry’s romantic rival, but he was never written as a bully or a jerk, just a guy with his own set of hopes and desires. As for Iris, there were some episodes where she filled what seemed to be a mandatory quota as far as superhero relationship drama. The Barry/Iris/Eddie love triangle definitely had its moments, but some weeks it came across as pointless filler. The big offender was “Out of Time,” which featured a terrifically epic climax but dull build-up. The premiere episode, did a fine job of laying out the cast of characters and basic status quo for the show. The idea that the STAR Labs particle accelerator created a new wave of metahumans alongside the Flash offered an easy way to start building a roster of villains and put Barry’s growing speed powers to the test. Luckily, it wasn’t long before The Flash began moving away from the “villain of the week” approach and building larger, overarching storylines. Bigger villains like Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) were introduced, paving the way for the Flash.The show played its part in expanding the CW’s superhero universe, introducing Firestorm and crossing paths with Arrow at several points. The mid-season finale, “The Man In the Yellow Suit,” offered the full introduction of the Reverse-Flash and set the stage for a conflict that would drive the show all the way until the season finale. As that conflict developed, the question of just who Dr. Wells was and what he had planned for Barry became paramount. Wells symbolized just how much the show was willing to play with expectations and shake up the traditional comic book mythology. I noted in my review of the premiere episode that the show was showing signs of being too predictable for seasoned comic book readers. It wasn’t long before that concern faded away.Looking back at these overarching conflicts and how they were developed over the course of the season, it’s clear that The Flash succeeded because it managed to adopt the serialized nature of superhero comics so well. Each new episode offered its fair share of twists and surprises, culminating in a dramatic cliffhanger that left viewers craving the next installment.Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)It served as a reminder that, in many ways, TV is an inherently better medium for superheroes than film. A weekly series can do serialized storytelling in a way a couple superhero movies every year can’t. The show started out big with the premiere episode, pitting Barry against the first Weather Wizard and a massive tornado. Even that was chump change compared to later conflicts. Barry’s battle with the second Weather Wizard culminated with the hero stopping a tidal wave at supersonic speed. But the most impressive technical accomplishment was more subtle. The late-season episode “Grodd Lives” introduced viewers to Gorilla Grodd, a completely computer-animated villain who looked far more convincing than we had any right to.Mark Hamill in The Flash (2014)Perhaps one of the strongest episode of Season 1 was “Tricksters.” That episode paid terrific homage to the short-lived 1990 Flash series as Mark Hamill reprised the part of the prank-obsessed villain the Trickster and former Flash John Wesley Shipp was given his most in-depth role as Barry’s father, Henry. Not only was “Tricksters” a fun love letter to the old show, it proved that this series can venture into full-on camp territory without losing sight of itself.Ultimately, though, it’s the finale episode that stands out as the crowning moment of Season 1. The show bucked the usual trend by getting the physical confrontation with Reverse-Flash out of the way in the penultimate episode (via a team-up between Flash, Firestorm and the Arrow, no less). “Fast Enough” wasn’t concerned with the visceral element of the Flash/Reverse-Flash rivalry so much as the psychological one. The finale was intensely emotional, forcing Barry to decide just how much he was willing to sacrifice to save his mother. Just about every actor delivered their best work of the season. It was a tremendous payoff to a year’s worth of build-up.Jesse L. Martin in The Flash (2014)The finale ended the season with a big question mark of a cliffhanger. The great thing about the way the season wrapped is that now the door is open for practically anything. The finale touched on the idea of the multiverse – other worlds inhabited by other Flashes like Jay Garrick. The Flash didn’t suffer from the familiar freshman growing pains most new shows experience in their first season. This show built from the framework Arrow laid out and made use of an experienced writing and production team, a great cast, and a clear, focused plan for exploring Barry Allen’s first year on the job. The show was never afraid to delve into the weird and wild elements of DC lore, but it always stayed grounded thanks to a combination of humor and strong character relationships.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: LEGENDS OF TOMORROW – TURNCOAT

DC's_Legends_of_Tomorrow_title_card

MAIN CAST

Victor Garber (Alias)
Brandon Routh (Chuck)
Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Franz Drameh (Edge of Tomorrow)
Matt Letscher (Her)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (The Originals)
Nick Zano (2 Broke Girls)
Dominic Purcell (A Fighting Man)
Amy Louise Pemberton (Suspence)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Randall Batinkoff (As Good As It Gets)

Legends of Tomorrow delivered a Christmas-themed episode in feburary 2017 , making it only about a month-and-a-half late to the party. But when time travel is involved, you can always argue that’s Christmas somewhere (or some-when). “Turncoat” allowed Legends to keep delivering the fun, frantic action it’s been doing so well in season 2, while also going to some pretty dark and dramatic places along the way.Granted, I had my concerns going into this episode. Legends has been particularly strong since returning from its midseason hiatus, and it didn’t seem like reverting to the familiar formula of “The Legends go back in time and protect a famous historical dead dude” didn’t see like the best way of keeping the hot streak alive. And if this episode had focused mainly on the fight to protect George Washington (played by Randall Batinkoff), it probably would have floundered. The show’s portrayal of Washington was about as bland and straightforward as its Ulysses S. Grant from earlier this season. With his penchant for flowery speeches and obsession with military decorum, it’s like he walked straight out of an elementary school history textbook.Fortunately, Washington himself was more or less an afterthought here. The real focus was on the painful reunion between the Legends and their old captain, now rebooted as a nihilistic villain who’d rather trample over history than safeguard it. As fun as it was watching Arthur Darvill play Rip as a cowardly American hippie in recent episodes, it’s even more entertaining watching this new version. Perhaps in part because he doesn’t just come across as a brainwashed tool of the Legion of Doom. There was a real weight to Rip’s words as he reflected on his past self’s willingness to be manipulated by others and his failure to save his own family. While the new Rip may be a product of brainwashing, there’s little denying that he already existed somewhere in the old Rip’s mind. Once again, it’s great to see the writers pushing the character in such new and dramatic directions rather than simply roll him back into the cast as if nothing had changed.Evil Rip helped keep the conflict grounded throughout the episode. There was certainly plenty of the familiar Legends charm to go around. Mick’s narration in the opening credits alone took care of that, to say nothing of Ray’s mad dash through the Waverider’s air ducts or Professor Stein’s hilarious Dr. McCoy homage. But despite the healthy dose of humor, “Turncoat” actually proved to be one of the darker episodes of the season. Sara very nearly died at Rip’s hand. Jax was forced to take over as captain and found himself on the brink of shooting Rip. Professor Stein nearly had a panic attack while trying to save Sara. And while everything generally worked out in the end, there’s no getting around the fact that once again, the Legends allowed another priceless artifact to fall into the Legion’s clutches. This is a team that loses even when they win, and that’s a major source of their appeal.That dark turn definitely worked in Jax’s favor. He’s a character who tends to be used for comic relief or as a foil to Stein, so it was nice to see Jax front-and-center and really dealing with some complicated emotional baggage as he confronted Rip. His game of cat-and-mouse with Rip was nothing if not suspenseful, and his struggle to stop himself from killing his old captain felt very genuine. By the end it was hard not to root for Jax to gun down Rip given the emotional gauntlet he had just been through. Luckily, the writers seemed to know when to ease off the gas and let the darkness recede in favor of some good, old-fashioned Christmas charm. That impromptu celebration helped balance out the otherwise glum conclusion to this week’s conflict, while also reminding us what a tight-knit group the Legend shave become since first banding together to hunt Vandal Savage.It really seems like Legends of Tomorrow can do no wrong lately. Even in an episode that ran the risk of retreating into simpler, more formulaic time travel fare, the show managed to deliver a wildly entertaining adventure that balanced dark character drama, sexual tension and wacky superheroics. The debut of dark Rip Hunter is just one more inspired addition to a show that already has so much working in its favor.

REVIEW: IDENTITY

CAST
John Cusack (2012)
Ray Liotta (Hannibal)
Amanda Peet (The Ex)
John Hawkes (Winters Bone)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Broden Chronicles)
John C. McGinley (Highlander 2)
Jake Busey (Fast Sofa)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Rebecca De Mornay (Jessica Jones)
Carmen Argenziano (Stargate SG.1)
William Lee Scott (October Sky)
Jake Busey (Starship Troopers)
Marshall Bell (Total Recall)
Leila Kenzle (Mad About You)
Matt Letscher (Legends of Tomorrow)
Holmes Osborne (Donnie Darko)
A convict introduced as “Malcolm Rivers”—who was abandoned as a child at a motel by his prostitute mother—awaits execution for several vicious murders that took place at an apartment building. Malcolm’s psychiatrist, Dr. Mallick, has discovered his journal that may explain why he committed the murders. With this late evidence brought forth, a new hearing takes place.
Meanwhile, ten strangers find themselves stranded in the middle of a torrential rainstorm at a remote Nevada motel, run by Larry Washington. The group consists of an ex-cop, now limousine driver, Ed Dakota; Caroline Suzanne, an actress popular in the 1980s; Officer Rhodes, who is transporting serial killer Robert Maine; Paris Nevada, a prostitute; newlyweds Lou and Ginny Isiana; and the York family, George and Alice, and mute 9-year-old son Timmy. The Yorks are in crisis because Alice has been struck by Ed’s car. With both ends of the road completely flooded, the group prepares to spend the night. However, they quickly find there is an unknown murderer present, killing off each of the guests. Caroline is the first to be killed. Ed, finding her severed head in a clothes dryer, thinks Maine killed her. When they check the convict, they discover he has escaped.
All the others become worried, and Ginny flees in terror to her room. Her husband Lou chases after her but is also murdered. Maine runs through the hills, only to be dumbfounded when he finds himself back at the motel. He enters the diner, where Ed and Rhodes jump and beat him into unconsciousness, putting Larry on guard duty. However, Maine is later found dead. Paris discovers a dead body in Larry’s freezer, which is revealed to be the real hotel manager. Larry attempts to escape in his truck, claiming he did not kill anybody; he accidentally runs over George, killing him.
Each body is accompanied by a numbered room key, the order of which suggests a countdown. The survivors tie Larry up, and as he tells them his story the others start to believe he really did not kill anyone. Subsequently, Alice is discovered to have died from her injuries. Ginny and Timmy die when their car blows up, but their bodies are nowhere to be found. The remaining four discover that all the bodies have disappeared and that all ten share the same birthday; Ed realizes that all ten names are linked to US states (Caroline being the Carolinas, Lou Isiana being Louisiana, etc.). Paris discovers that Rhodes is actually a convict as well; he killed the corrections officer transporting him and Maine cross state and assumed the cop’s identity. Rhodes attempts to kill Paris, but she is saved by Larry, who hits Rhodes with a fire extinguisher, only to be shot and killed by him.
Back at the hearing, the contents of Malcolm’s journal are revealed, indicating Malcolm suffers from an extreme case of dissociative identity disorder, harboring ten distinct personalities. Mallick is able to bring forth one of Malcolm’s personalities: Ed – all of the events happening at the motel are concurrently occurring inside Malcolm’s mind, and each one of Malcolm’s personalities is represented by one person at the motel. Mallick explains to “Ed” that the events at the motel are a result of treatment Malcolm is receiving: the killings at the motel are Malcolm’s mental attempts to eliminate his nine excess personalities. Mallick further gives “Ed” the mission of making sure that the hostile personality (i.e., the one responsible for Malcolm’s committing the crimes for which he is being tried) is eliminated to prevent Malcolm from being executed.
Back in the motel setting, Ed believes Rhodes is the murderer, and the two shoot each other to death, leaving only Paris alive. When Mallick demonstrates that the homicidal personality is dead, the Judge decides to place Malcolm in a mental institution under Mallick’s care. In the final scene, Malcolm is driven in a van, along with Mallick to the institution. In Malcolm’s mind, Paris has driven away from the motel to her hometown in Frostproof, Florida. As she tends an orange grove, she discovers the room 1 motel key, and finds Timmy behind her. Timmy, the true homicidal personality, had orchestrated all the deaths at the motel, and made it appear that he had been killed as well; he finishes his task by killing Paris. Now driven only by Timmy, Malcolm strangles Mallick and then attacks the orderlies and the van driver, forcing the van off the side of the road.
The plot is designed to keep you guessing, as each plot twist throws up another series of questions and seemingly inexplicable situations. What is the relevance of the court case? How come keys are found by each body as the death toll mounts? Who is innocent and who is guilty? Here is a thriller that not only buckles the formula, but almost completely demolishes it. Each actor does a superb job of maintaining the suspense.