REVIEW: THE FLASH – SEASON 5

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Starring

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Hartley Sawyer (The Young and The Restless)
Danielle Nicolet (Central Intelligence)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (Cam)
Chris Klein (American Pie)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)

Jessica Parker Kennedy in The Flash (2014)

Recurring / NOtable Guest Cast

Keiynan Lonsdale (Love, Simon)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Daniel Cudmore (Twilight: New Moon)
Erin Cummings (Bitch Slap)
Susan Walters (The Vampire Diaries)
Kiana Madeira (Trinkets)
Kyle Secor (Veronica Mars)
Troy James (Hellboy)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Carlo Marks (Smallville)
Liam McIntyre (Spartacus)
Lossen Chambers (Unspeakable)
LaMonica Garrett (The Last Ship)
Michelle Harrison (Tru Calling)
John Wesley Shipp (Dawson’s Creek)
Teddy Sears (Chicago Fire)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Chad Rook (War For The POTA)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Tyler Hoechilin (Teen Wolf)
Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Jeremy Davies (Hannibal)
Elizabeth Tulloch (The Artist)
Ruby Rose (The Meg)
Reina Hardesty (StartUp)
Gabrielle Walsh (East Los High)
Charlene Amoia (How I Met Your Mother)
Britne Oldford (American Horror Story)
Victoria Park (Plus One)
Kimberly Williams-Paisley (The Christmas Chronicles)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Zibby Allen (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Sarah Carter (Smallville)
Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis)
Catherine Lough Haggquist (Godzilla)
Kathryn Gallagher (You)
BD Wong (Gotham)
Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead)

Hartley Sawyer and Carlos Valdes in The Flash (2014)Odd as it may sound, The Flash may very well now be the flagship show in the Arrowverse. When you think about it, the series’ ascension to that spot makes sense, especially when you factor in how it’s consistently The CW’s top rated show. Plus, it often charts new course for the DC TV landscape as a whole, which I’ll discuss in just a bit.In the meantime, though, I’m going to shower the next leg in the Scarlet Speedster’s journey with much praise after being left jaded by what I thought was a parabolic fourth season. Those familiar with this site may remember how I didn’t exactly care for how our most recent trips to Central City became downright farcical at times, whereas the premiere I’ve just had the honor of screening found the proper balance achieved in earlier seasons.Grant Gustin and Candice Patton in The Flash (2014)Maybe it’s just me, but Nora West-Allen AKA XS, played by the adorable Jessica Parker Kennedy, gave this show the shot in the arm that it needed. After being left stranded in the present, Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris’ (Candice Patton) daughter from the future manages to strengthen the family aspect that’s been a solid cornerstone since day one, while also taking the action scenes to the next level. Being someone who digs legacy heroes, I was delighted to hear Nora begin season 5 with narration similar to that of Barry’s, thereby letting us know that she’s a chip off the old block and, yes, she’s the fastest woman alive in her native time period.Chris Klein in The Flash (2014)In very short order, I became convinced that Nora is quite possibly the role Kennedy was born to play, and is quickly becoming my favorite thing about the show. Believe me, it won’t take long for you to warm up to the father-daughter dynamic shared between her and Barry. It’s a tad awkward as one would expect at first, sure, but the two bond before long.Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)Seeing as how this is a comic book-based series, their first instance of Take Your Child To Work Day comes in the form of a run-in with Gridlock (Daniel Cudmore), our first freak of the week for the fall. In truth, it’s probably best that we get someone of lesser power to start off things before organically building up to the new big bad, Cicada (Chris Klein). Make no mistake, the Flash himself isn’t forgotten in the premiere, as this is still very much his headlining gig. What’s more is that longtime viewers will be rewarded as he runs the costuming gamut by donning the suits he wore in seasons 1 and 2, before settling on his new threads.Chris Klein and Danielle Panabaker in The Flash (2014)Continuing on that note, the comic aficionados among you should geek out upon seeing said duds emerging from a ring, an element from the source material that’s finally been utilized by the producers. As for getting it back inside, well, that sounds like a job for Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) and his magnificent mind. Rest assured that a piece of jewelry isn’t the only thing brought back from the future because – get this – Nora gives quite the nod to Batman Beyond by using “schway” in a sentence on multiple occasions. Not only that, but the DC Easter eggs don’t stop there – her name-drops may be laying the groundwork for the next five years of Arrowverse programming, so be sure to pay close attention.Danielle Panabaker and Jessica Parker Kennedy in The Flash (2014)Now, I’m not going to get into major spoilers, but I will say that stuff established all the way back in the pilot episode is revisited and factors into what’s to come. The sharper guys and gals reading this may have a few good guesses after learning that, so just keep on formulating your own theories until it’s showtime. At this point, I imagine lovers of Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) are wondering what’s going on with her character and the unfolding mystery involving her past. Though her alter ego of Killer Frost has yet to resurface, some sizable breadcrumbs are provided, each of which will definitely factor heavily into future episodes. Bank on it.The Flash (2014)In the eyes of this critic, showrunner Todd Helbing and company have rediscovered what’s quintessentially The Flash. Hand to Zod, the creative minds behind the series look to be returning it to the glory days of seasons 1 and 2 – and that’s no joke. These folks have put together one of the strongest premieres this show has ever produced, and it’s guaranteed to leave people talking. Personally, I can’t wait to see what’s next because, you know, it’s not like I can run so fast that I can time travel or anything.

REVIEW: THE FLASH – SEASON 4

 

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Starring

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Keiynan Lonsdale (The Turning)
Neil Sandilands (The 100)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)

Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Kim Engelbrecht (Dominion)
Danielle Nicolet (Central Intelligence)
Britne Oldford (God Friended Me)
Jessica Camacho (Watchmen: The Series)
Dominic Burgess (The Good Place)
Richard Brooks (The Crow: City of Angels)
Sugar Lyn Beard (Sausage Party)
Violett Beane (God Friended Me)
Chelsea Kurtz (Scandal)
Hartley Sawyer (The Young and The Restless)
Vito D’Ambrosio (Bones)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Victor Garber (The Orville)
John Wesley Shipp (Dawson’s Creek)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Chyler Leigh (Not Another Teen Movie)
Franz Drameh (See)
Paul Blackthorne (The InBetween)
Jeremy Jordan (The Last Five Years)
Juliana Harkavy (Last Shift)
Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Russell Tovey (Being Human)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Kendrick Sampson (Relationship Status)
Mark Valley (Human Target)
Corinne Bohrer (Tellers)
Devon Graye (13 Sins)
Bill Goldberg (Santa’s Slay)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (Cam)
Derek Mears (Swamp Thing)
Kendall Cross (Another Life)
Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis)
Leonardo Nam (Westworld)
Bethany Brown (The 100)
Kevin Smith (Clerks)
Jason Mewes (Mallrats)
Arturo Del Puerto (For All Mankind)
Katie Cassidy (Taken)
Ryan Alexander McDonald (Izombie)
Mark Sweatman (Uncut)
David Ramsey (Dexter)

Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)For the last three years, “The Flash” has proven itself to be one of the very best  superhero shows on television. With its incredible mix of compelling characters, intricate storytelling, and tense thrills, it has continued to deliver a wonderful blend of drama, comedy, action, and even a little romance. Heading into season four, the show has shown no signs of slowing down, and coming off of a particularly excellent season, expectations remain quite high. Now, at last, it’s time to see if “The Flash” continues its “streak” of greatness, or if the show has at last run its course.Neil Sandilands in The Flash (2014)At the end of season three, Barry Allen/The Flash (Grant Gustin) found himself with no other choice but to go into the speed force itself to save Central City. This left the rest of Team Flash, including Iris (Candice Patton), Cisco (Carlos Valdes), and Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale), to pick up the slack in regards to fighting crime in the city. However, they find that not only do they miss Barry, but that their team just isn’t the same without him, which eventually leads Cisco to devise a way to free him from the speed force.Grant Gustin and Hartley Sawyer in The Flash (2014)Their happiness at being reunited is short-lived however, as they quickly discover that the rift they opened to free Barry also unleashed a massive amount of dark matter that changed a dozen civilians into meta-humans with extraordinary powers. Meanwhile, a new brilliant foe by the name of Clifford DeVoe, aka “The Thinker” (Neil Sandilands) has emerged with a mysterious plan that involves collecting the powers of these recently-created meta-humans. It’s up to Team Flash (including new team member Ralph Dibney/”The Elongated Man” (Hartley Sawyer)) to discover how all of it is connected, and what DeVoe’s ultimate goal is before he can carry it out, all while trying to protect the people of Central City from the continuous onslaught of criminals.One of the most impressive things about “The Flash,” aside from everything mentioned so far, has been the remarkable ability of the writing staff to fill its lengthy 23-episode season. In an age where TV shows are moving away from the older model of having epic-sized seasons of 20+ episodes and moving towards more streamlined lengths of about 10-13 episodes, it’s quite something to see a show continue to utilize so many AND be able to actually fill it with quality material. Sure, some episodes aren’t an actual part of the season’s main arc, but even when they don’t further the main plot, the writers usually still manage to deliver consistently fun and exciting episodes.Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)It’s rather satisfying to say that season four is no exception. Once again, we have a compelling storyline that sees the entire city put in danger, forcing our group of heroes to use every means at their disposal to take down “The Thinker.” That actually brings us right to the main reason this season stands out as being particularly special: for once, the villain is not an evil speedster, but rather a man with an insanely-advanced intellect. In the first three seasons, we saw our heroes go up again The Reverse Flash, Zoom, and Savitar, but now, in a refreshing change of pace, we have a villain who uses sheer brainpower (and eventually several neat powers) to challenge Flash and co., literally forcing them to have to try and out-think their foe.Kim Engelbrecht and Neil Sandilands in The Flash (2014)In the same vein, the showrunners have also made the wise decision to get rid of certain characters that hadn’t been working particularly well. Most notably, Wally West leaves early on, and actually joins the Legends on “Legends of Tomorrow.” His character never really found a satisfying place on “The Flash,” so it made perfect sense to put him with other b-characters on one of the weaker superhero shows on the network. He still pops in every now and again for important events, but for the most part, he’s been removed. It’s also worth noting that this season doesn’t feature an appearance from the silliest villain in the show’s repertoire, Gorilla Grodd. Perhaps after the misguided arc in the previous season, they’ve finally learned that the character was just a bad idea.Grant Gustin and Violett Beane in The Flash (2014)As far as complaints about this latest season, I suppose the somewhat simple ending was a little bit of a drawback. After all of the buildup, it seemed a little too easy to get to the end result, but still, it worked well enough for the show’s purposes. That being said, it hardly seems worth mentioning with everything that went so well this season. Once again, we had 23 episodes that flew by at top speed, delivering everything that fans have come to expect from this fast-paced and remarkably entertaining show. As usual, we’re left with another cliffhanger that shows that yet another wild season will probably be in store for Team Flash. What kind of villain will we get this time? Another speedster? Another brainiac of sorts? Or will it be something entirely new and surprising? Just like everyone else, I can’t wait to find out.

 

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.

REVIEW: SPY

CAST

Melissa McCarthy (Ghostbusters)
Jude Law (A.I.)
Rose Byrne (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Jason Staham (Fast & Furious 7)
Miranda Hart (Miranda)
Jessica Chaffin (The Heat)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Will Yun Lee (The Wolverine)
Bobby Cannavale (Ant-Man)
Peter Serafinowicz (Shaun of The Dead)
Ben Falcone (Tammy)
50 Cent (Southpaw)
Paul Feig (Sabrina: TTW)
Richard Brake (3 From Hell)

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is a desk-bound CIA analyst guiding her partner Agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) on a mission to Varna from a CIA office in the Washington, D.C. area. Fine kills Tihomir Boyanov after he sneezes without first finding a suitcase nuke whose location is known only to Boyanov. Meanwhile, the agency learns that Boyanov’s daughter Rayna (Rose Byrne) might know the location of her father’s device, so they send Fine to infiltrate her home. However, Rayna shoots Fine dead while Susan watches online. Rayna knows the identities of all the agency’s top agents, including Fine and Rick Ford (Jason Statham). Susan, who is unknown to Rayna, volunteers to become a field agent, and her boss, Elaine Crocker (Allison Janney), agrees. Ford quits in disgust over Susan being chosen for the assignment.
Susan is sent to Paris to spy on Sergio De Luca (Bobby Cannavale). Later that night, Ford appears in the hotel Susan is staying at and insists that she will ruin the mission due to being an inexperienced field agent. The next morning, Susan sees an assassin working for De Luca, and one of his contacts, exchanging Ford’s bag for one with a bomb inside it. Susan warns Ford, then catches up to the assassin, but he is killed when they fight. Susan follows De Luca to Rome, where she meets her contact Aldo (Peter Serafinowicz), a suave Italian informant who makes inappropriate advances towards her. Susan meets Rayna in a casino, prevents Rayna’s assassination, and becomes part of her inner circle. When they fly in her private plane to Budapest, the steward kills the bodyguard and pilots and tries to kill Rayna, but Susan subdues him and lands the plane in Budapest.
Rayna believes Susan to be a CIA spy, but Susan convinces Rayna that her father hired her to be Rayna’s bodyguard. In Budapest, the two encounter Susan’s best friend Nancy B. Artingstall (Miranda Hart), who is sent by Crocker to provide back-up. After being shot at in the street, Susan orders Nancy to get Rayna to safety while she pursues the shooter’s vehicle. The shooter turns out to be CIA double agent Karen Walker (Morena Baccarin), who sold Rayna the names of the agents. As she is about to shoot Susan, Walker is killed by an unknown sniper. Later that night, Susan and Nancy accompany Rayna to a party. The contact is De Luca’s associate, Lia (Nargis Fakhri). Nancy creates a diversion so Susan can fight Lia, who is a skilled assassin. Just as Susan is about to arrest Lia, she is fatally stabbed in the chest by an unknown assailant, who turns out to be Bradley Fine. Susan is captured and is told that Fine faked his death so he could become Rayna’s lover.
Jason Statham and Melissa McCarthy in Spy (2015)
After Susan is imprisoned with Aldo in a bunker, Fine appears and reveals to Susan that the real reason he faked his death was to gain intelligence on the device’s location, which could only happen if he gained Rayna’s trust. Fine also reveals that he was the one who assassinated Karen. Susan and Aldo escape after subduing two bodyguards. Eventually, Susan accompanies Rayna and Fine at De Luca’s mansion while posing as a double agent. Chechen terrorist Solsa Dudaev (Richard Brake) and his men arrive to purchase the device for a suitcase full of diamonds. Rayna then reveals the location of the device. However, De Luca, now in possession of the device and doubting that Dudaev can safely smuggle it into the United States, kills him and his men and keeps the diamonds. De Luca intends to sell the device to someone who can transport it to New York City within a week. As De Luca is about to kill Rayna, Ford appears and distracts him, allowing Susan to save Rayna’s life again.
Melissa McCarthy and Nargis Fakhri in Spy (2015)
De Luca escapes with the device and diamonds on his helicopter, with Susan and Ford clinging to the landing gear. Ford loses his grip, causing him to falls into the lake ocean, leaving Susan to confront De Luca in the helicopter alone. After Nancy and Aldo arrive in a helicopter and help Susan kill De Luca, Crocker shows up to recover the device. Rayna is arrested, but it is implied that she has come to like Susan as a friend. After Aldo reveals to Susan that his real name is Albert and he is an MI6 agent, he invites her to dinner should they ever cross paths in London, which Susan accepts. Susan declines a similar offer from Fine and instead opts for a girls’ night out with Nancy. The next morning, Susan is shown screaming after waking up amidst empty champagne bottles, realizing that she has slept with Ford.
I thought Spy would be just another parody of the James Bond-type of movies, cheap and cringy. But I was wrong! This is a highly entertaining and intelligent film. The leading lady Melissa McCarthy excels in this clever action-comedy galore. The ensemble of actors, the script, director’s work all makes for a great film.

REVIEW: HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER – SEASON 2

Starring

Josh Radnor (The Hunt)
Jason Segel (Sex Tape)
Cobie Smulders (Avengers: Endgame)
Neil Patrick Harris (Gone Girl)
Alyson Hannigan (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Bob Saget (Full House)

Alyson Hannigan and George Clinton in How I Met Your Mother (2005)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Lyndsy Fonseca (Kick-Ass)
David Henrie (Paul BLart Mall Cop 2)
Michael Gross (Tremors)
Cristine Rose (Heroes)
Charlene Amoia (American Pie: Reunion)
Joe Manganiello (True Blood)
Joe Nieves (Stuck In The Middle)
Dawn Olivieri (Bright)
Valerie Azlynn (Julia X)
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Tom Lenk (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Patricia Belcher (Bones)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Kate Micucci (The Big Bang Theory)
Wayne Brady (Colony)
Harry Groener (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Lucy Hale (Truth or Dare)
Ryan Pinkston (Clipped)
William Schallert (Innerspace)
John Ducey (Sabrina: TTW)
Meredith Scott Lynn (Legally Blonde)
Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight)
Jessica Barth (Ted)
K Callan (Lois & Clark)
Meagen Fay (That’s My Boy)
Marshall Manesh (Will & Grace)
David Burtka (Neil’s Puppet Dreams)
Candice King (The Vampire Diaries)
Scoot McNairy (Batman V Superman)

Josh Radnor and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)The second season of How I Met Your Mother continues with a similar tone to the first season. The show follows a couple dramatic storylines that affect the lives of the cast, all the while doing and saying goofy things. Notably, Neil Patrick Harris repeatedly steals the spotlight as the overzealous, egotistical, and downright fun character Barney Stinson.Cristine Rose, Michael Gross, Josh Radnor, and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)In the close of the show’s first season, Marshall’s life was turned upside down. Lily was accepted into an art internship. The catch is that it meant spending the summer in San Francisco. Marshall gave Lily an ultimatum, the internship or their relationship. She picked San Francisco. As season two begins, Marshall is approaching relationship rock bottom. Having lost the woman of his dreams, he quickly spirals down a destructive path. While Ted would normally be there for him, he has his own issues to deal with. At the end of season one, Ted realized his feelings for Robin and pursed her (again). In season two, they test out relationship-waters.Alyson Hannigan, Joe Manganiello, and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)As the second season continues, Marshall pines over Lily and the Ted-Robin relationship blooms. The contrast between Marshall and Ted makes for a hearty chuckle, as they are as night and day. Life for Marshall is not all bad. One day he wakes up and understands it is time to move on. He becomes himself again (as much as he can without Lily) and even tries to meet women. These outings are fantastic, with Barney continually stealing the show (and the women!). Then boom! Lily returns from San Francisco and tries to adjust to life without Marshall, which includes getting a dumpy apartment and moving in with Barney. Marshall and Lily eventually get back on track and conclude the season with a wedding.Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan in How I Met Your Mother (2005)In the early half of the season, Ted and Robin’s relationship is roses and daffodils. They are getting along great… in fact too great. They start to get pretty serious, which includes saying I love you to each other, although Robin has some difficulty expressing it. The two decide to move in together, which Barney wholeheartedly disapproves of. “Moving Day” is a really silly story; Barney goes out of his way to stop Ted from moving into Robin’s place.Neil Patrick Harris, Jane Seymour, and Jason Segel in How I Met Your Mother (2005)In addition to the second season’s relationship story arcs, there are some plain old fun episodes. “Brunch” is a great story. Ted reveals the details leading up to when he learned about his parent’s divorce. It is a hilarious sequence of events, with the entire cast shining. “Aldrin Justice” is silly episode where Barney tries to tame a wild beast. He uses sex to persuade Marshall’s tough law professor (Jane Seymour) into grading easier. “Single Stamina” is a simply ridiculous. Barney’s gay, black brother James (Wayne Brady) comes to visit. The fun part about this episode is Brady’s performance, as he does a fine job mimicking Barney’s outrageous personality, except he targets men.Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan, Jane Seymour, Jason Segel, Josh Radnor, and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)The season’s remaining episodes offer a fun compilation of fun storylines . It is hilarious and entertaining material. In the end, How I Met Your Mother’s second season is a solid collection of episodes.

REVIEW: STARGATE: THE ARK OF TRUTH

CAST

Ben Browder (Farscape)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)
Claudia Black (the Originals)
Currie Graham (Agent Carter)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Julian Sands (Robin Hood Beyond on Sherwood)
Sarah Strange (Dark Angel)
Michael Beach (The Abyss)
Gary Jones (Highlander: The Series)
Chris Gauthier (Watchmen)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)
Eric Breker (Walking Tall)
Gabrielle Rose (Proof)

Ben Browder and Currie Graham in Stargate: The Ark of Truth (2008)SG-1 discovers a box that they believe contains the Ark of Truth while digging on Dakara, but before they can open it, Ori soldiers arrive, led by Tomin. Daniel tricks them into opening the box, but it is revealed to be a fake. When Tomin is ordered by a Prior to kill them, he refuses, and Mitchell kills the Prior, whose powers were being blocked by the Anti-Prior device. Shocked at the death of their Prior, the Ori soldiers surrender with Tomin returning to Earth with SG-1 where he resides at the SGC for a time.MCDSTAR EC065Back on Earth, General Landry and Mitchell meet James Marrick, an IOA representative sent to interrogate Tomin due to the fact that the original IOA representative, Richard Woolsey is now working for the Atlantis Expedition.Claudia Black, Christopher Judge, and Michael Shanks in Stargate: The Ark of Truth (2008)When Daniel Jackson realizes that the Ark is still in the Ori galaxy, Marrick is assigned to accompany them on board the Odyssey through the Supergate. In the Ori galaxy, a member of the anti-Ori resistance tells the team that according to legend, the Ark is on Celestis, the Ori capital. When SG-1 beams down to the planet, Marrick activates the Asgard computer core which alerts the Ori to the ship’s location.Upon being alerted by Major Kevin Marks of what’s going on, Mitchell and Carter beam back to the Odyssey and discover that Marrick has used the core to build a Replicator, intending to plant it on an Ori ship and let it spread to their entire fleet.Claudia Black, Ben Browder, Gary Jones, Christopher Judge, Michael Shanks, and Amanda Tapping in Stargate: The Ark of Truth (2008) When Mitchell attempts to destroy it with an anti-Replicator Gun, the replicator escapes, and Marrick reveals that the IOA removed that weakness from the design, although conventional weapons are sufficient to destroy individual replicators. Marrick implies that a shutdown code has been included as a failsafe, but claims he does not know what it is. He is placed in the ship’s brig and falls victim to the Replicators who later make their way into the brig, resulting in Merrick becoming a Human-Replicator hybrid. With several Ori ships approaching, Mitchell attempts to beam Daniel, Teal’c, Vala, and Tomin up from the planet, but the replicator takes over the system and keeps Mitchell from doing so. With no other option, the Odyssey jumps to hyperspace to escape, leaving the others on the planet.Amanda Tapping in Stargate: The Ark of Truth (2008)Daniel finds the Ark in a set of catacombs, and after several ground tremors, brings it to the surface. When the team emerges, they are ambushed by Ori warriors, and Teal’c is shot in the back while the others are captured. When they are brought to the city, Vala discovers that the Ori were indeed killed by the Sangraal during the events of The Shroud. Adria has ascended and taken over all of their power. Teal’c, who has been walking toward the city of Celestis since he was shot, collapses due to his wound within sight of the city. He is subsequently revived by Morgan le Fay and continues on to free Daniel. Morgan then arrives in Daniel’s cell (initially in the guise of Merlin) and tells him if he can expose one Prior to the Ark, the others will be turned by a link in their staffs. This will weaken Adria enough for Morgan to stalemate her. In the meantime, a Prior arrives on Earth, offering a last chance to convert to Origin.

When General Landry refuses to even listen to him, the Apollo detects a fleet of Ori motherships waiting on the edge of the solar system. On the Odyssey, Marrick is attacked by Replicators who infest his body. In the ensuing battle, Mitchell is able to briefly disable the Replicator connection to Marrick’s brain who then informs Mitchell the shut down code for the Replicators is located on the other side of the crystal used to create them. Mitchell activates an explosive charge which kills Marrick. Mitchell informs Carter who activates the shut-down command, deactivating the Replicators.When the Ark is activated and opened, the Doci is caught by the beam and made to see that the Ori are not gods and spreads this belief to all of the Priors in the Ori galaxy and through them their followers.With Adria now in a weakened state, Morgan is able to engage her in an eternal battle. SG-1 exposes the Prior on Earth to the Ark, transmitting the knowledge about the Ori to all of the Priors in the Milky Way, and thus turning all known Priors in the Universe. In the aftermath, Tomin departs for the Ori galaxy as the new leader of his people, he and Vala agreeing that, while the Ori themselves were liars, Origin itself has a worthwhile message. Tomin asks Vala to come with him, but Vala apologizes and says that she feels her place is with the SGC. Over Daniel’s objections the Ark is taken to Area 51 for study while SG-1 later prepare for another new mission through the Stargate.The Ark Of Truth lives up the hype of fans hoping for an epic end to the storyline that drove the show’s final two seasons. Indeed, The Ark Of Truth proves to be both an epic and fitting end to the Ori storyline. There were major surprise.