12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE FLASH – THE PRESENT

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MAIN CAST

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (Heroes)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Keiynan Lonsdale (Insurgent)
Tom Cavanagh (Van Helsing)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tom Felton (Harry Potter)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Nicholas Gonzalez (Sleepy Hollow)
Danielle Nicolet (Central Intelligence)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash 90s)

I’ll definitely say this for “The Present” – it takes a pretty eventful episode to make Mark Hamill reprising his role as the Trickster seem like a footnote. Apparently it’s becoming an annual tradition to celebrate Christmas with another Trickster appearance. This episode certainly shook up the formula by introducing the Earth-3 version of the villain. Hamill really went all-out despite his limited screen time, modeling this Trickster directly after Conrad Veidt’s character Gwynplaine from 1928’s The Man Who Laughs. This was the closest we’ll probably ever get to seeing Hamill playing the Joker in live-action. It was neat seeing him pay homage to Joker’s main inspiration, and neater still to see both Hamill and John Wesley Shipp reviving their rivalry from the 1990 Flash series.

It was frustrating to see so little of the Trickster this week. Hamill is too much fun in the role to On the other hand, how much could the writers feasibly focus on a character who’s clearly out of his pay grade battling two Flashes at once? And if Hamill got the short end of the stick, the same couldn’t be said for Shipp. This might have been the most Shipp-heavy episode of the entire series, regardless of which character he was playing. But that extra focus was certainly justified. Shipp is every bit as perfect for the role of Jay Garrick  as he was Henry Allen in the first two seasons. He was that natural charm and gravitas that befits the elder statesman of the speedster family.

Most importantly, Shipp succeeds in playing Jay as a much different character from Henry. He has the same fundamental decency, perhaps, but there’s a certain aloofness to Jay all the same. There’s a clear awkwardness between Jay and Barry. Barry is turning to Jay for advice almost in spite of himself, seeking fatherly support from a man who isn’t Henry, no matter how much he resembles him. And Jay, for his part, doesn’t seem quite comfortable in this mentor role yet. If there’s one thing this season has accomplished, it’s giving Flash fans the classic Jay Garrick Season 2 denied them.

“The Present” offered quite a bit of progress on the Savitar/Alchemy front, with multiple speedster battles and more insight into what makes both villains tick. The writers were able to retain Julian’s appeal with the reveal that he’s never been in control of his actions as Alchemy. He’s been little more than a pawn preparing the way for the self-proclaimed god of motion to enter this world. And now that Savitar has been exorcised, as it were, Julian seems poised to resume his old role as half friend/half antagonist to Barry. No doubt he’ll still have a major part to play once the Savitar conflict ramps up again, but for now I’m looking forward to seeing his prickly relationship with Barry become the main focus again.
Things are picking up on the Savitar front. The scene where Savitar possessed Julian and spoke to Team Flash was easily the highlight of the entire episode, as well as a reminder that less is often more when it comes to big, monstrous villains. The scene offered much more insight into Savitar’s background and reasons for targeting Barry. He’s not a god, despite his claims, but someone from Barry’s future who feels personally wronged by the Scarlet Speedster. Given his intimate knowledge of everyone in the room, it’s not much of a stretch to suggest that one of them will become Savitar.
Savitar’s cryptic tease about future tragedies awaiting Team Flash was a nice touch. With the Flashpoint conflict receding into the background now, it seems the driving force of the second half of Season 3 will be the question of whether the future is inevitable or if fate can be rewritten. Is Iris fated to be murdered by Savitar? Is Caitlin doomed to become Killer Frost? Actually catching a glimpse of what looks to be a pivotal scene in one of the final episodes of the season certainly lends an extra touch of impending doom to the series. Cisco had a solid subplot of his won this week, with Savitar preying on his grief over Dante’s death and using it to nearly usher in his second coming. Carlos Valdes is so often the designated comic relief on this show, so it’s been a refreshing change of pace seeing him explore Cisco’s mourning process and his rift with Barry over the past couple months.

And with all the doom and gloom this week, it was nice to see the writers take some time at the end of the episode to celebrate the holiday season and wrap up 2016 on a more upbeat note. The West family Christmas party was a fun, sentimental way to cap off the episode. We got to see HR get drunk on Grandma Esther’s eggnog, Julian get into the holiday spirit and Caitlin ensure everyone got to enjoy a white Christmas. Plus, Barry gave Iris a very romantic Christmas present. A great Mid-Season finale that keeps us waiting and wondering whats to come in 2017.

 

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REVIEW: THE FLASH – SEASON 2

CAST

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (Heroes)
Danielle Panabaker (Sky High)
Carlos Valdes (Arrow)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. MArtin (Injustice)
Keiynan Lonsdale (Insurgent)


RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries)
Robbie Amell (Scooby Doo 3 & 4)
Dominic Purcell (Ice Soldiers)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Teddy Sears (ugly Betty)
Vito D’Ambrosio (The Flash 90s)
Isabella Hofmann (The Promise)
Patrick Sabongui (Stargate: Atlantis)
Adam Copeland (Highlander: Endgame)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash 90s)
Victor Garber (Alias)
Kett Turton (Saved)
Shantel VanSanten (The FInal Destination)
Vanessa Williams (Candyman)
Tony Todd (Chuck)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Malese Jow (The Vampire Diaries)
Peyton List (Flashforward)
Amanda Pays (The Flash 90s)
Franz Drameh (Edge of Tomorrow)
Ciara Renee (Legends of Tomorrow)
Violett Beane (The Leftovers)
Stephen Amell (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2)
Willa Holland (Legion)
John Barrowman (Reign)
David Ramsey (Con Air)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Neal McDonough (Paul Blart Mall Cop 2)
Casper Crump (The Legend of Tarzan)
Falk Hentschel (Knight and Day)
Anna Hopkins (Defiance)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Liam McIntyre (Spartacus)
Michael Rowe (Arrow)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Matt Letscher (Her)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Audrey Marie Anderson (Lie To Me)
Michelle Harrison (Tru Calling)
Nicholas Gonzalez (Sleepy Hollow)
Greg Finley (Izombie)
Jason Mewes (Dogma)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)

Image result for the flash FLASH OF TWO WORLDSThe 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.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). 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. 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). 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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, it will be intresting if we will ever see him come back in season 3. 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: LEGO – JUSTICE LEAGUE: ATTACK OF THE LEGION OF THE DOOM

CAST (VOICES)

Troy Baker (The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Grey DeLisle (Batman Beyond)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Tom Kenny (The Batman)
Nolan North (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Kahry Payton (Teen Titans)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
James Arnold Taylor (Batman: The Brave and The Bold)
Cree Summer (Freakazoid)

Crime is on the run as the newly formed Justice League keeps Metropolis safe and this makes evil genius Lex Luthor very unhappy. Together with Black Manta, Sinestro and a gang of ruthless recruits, Lex builds his own league and declares them the Legion of Doom. With this super powered team of terror and a plan to attack the top-secret government site, Area 52, can Lex finally be on the verge of victory? Sound the “Trouble Alert” and get ready for the bricks to fly when Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the Justice League face off against the world’s greatest Super-Villains!

A great film. carrying on were Lego Justice League: Bizarro World left off we see the first union of the baddies in the Lego universe. Although the Bizarro World film was good, it wasn’t fantastic. This time however Lego hits the nail on the head with plenty of laugh out loud moments, an entertaining and gripping storyline that’s easily graspable for its target audience, a fantastic cast of voice actors including the legendary Mark Hamill and to top it all off a really cool mini figure of the Trickster (Just need the rest of the Rogues to be released now).


Theres loads of potential in this Lego DC Universe and plenty to develop on and to introduce new and exciting ideas. Fun for all the family, adults and kids alike will find entertainment in the Justice Leagues first show down with the Legion of Doom and be left hungry for the next installment.

 

 

 

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE FLASH – RUNNING TO STAND STILL

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RUNNING TO STAND STILL
MAIN CAST
Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (Heroes)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jess L. Martin (Law & Order)
Keiynan Lonsdale (Insurgent)
GUEST CAST
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Wentworth Miller (Prison Break)
Teddy Sears (American Horror Story)
Shantel VanSanten (Beauty and The BVeast 2012)
Patrick Sabongui (Stargate: Atlantis)
Violett Beane (The Leftovers)
Liam McIntyre (Spartacus)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
It seems we can always rely on The Flash to deliver a great mid-season finale that’s not just a brilliant instalment of the show, but also an unashamed Christmas episode with presents, Turkey and festive soul-searching for our viewing pleasure. I’d even be tempted to say that this, Running To Stand Still, was one of the strongest episodes the show has delivered so far this season, what with the effortless mix of great villains, attention given to the relationships between characters and some nice forward momentum for the Zoom story thread. We begin with Zoom running Wells down before wishing him a particularly threatening ‘Merry Christmas’, setting the tone for the rest of the episode before we flit back to our main gang. It wasn’t much of a secret that Mark Hamill would be returning as the Trickster, but pairing him up with the Weather Wizard was a stroke of genius. The Trickster is threatening enough in his madness but, combined with the guy who actually managed to win last year makes it more than just the run-of-the-mill meta-threat. It also makes for some terrific punning, excused just this one time entirely because it’s the season and all that. Captain Cold isn’t even around for most of it, making a feeble attempt to help Barry out by filling him in on his cohort’s dastardly plans before running for the hills. This is obviously all in service of his role on Legends, which is dangerously close now to actually being on our tellys now.
Because this is a mid-season finale, much of the episode is dedicated to parental angst. Chiefly, Iris finally tells Barry about the existence of Wally West in what was actually a very sweet scene between the two, and they later decide it’s probably best to present a united front to Joe. I worried when we heard about another West sibling that the show would muddle the relationship between Barry and the family, but this episode did a lot to allay those fears. Joe gives Barry his own father’s watch even after he finds out about Wally, for instance, and it highlights the nice place that part of the show is in now that the Barry/Iris romance is done (or at least on pause). But Joe’s understandably upset to discover that he has a son he never knew about, and we’ll have to wait until January to find out how that particular family reunion goes. We’re fairly sure that he’s going to become some kind of speedster, entirely because of his name, but it’ll just be interesting on its own to see how he slots into the show’s existing dynamic. It’ll also presumably give Iris something to do at last.
My highlight of the episode, though, was the fleshing out of Patty’s character, giving her layers beyond the cute Felicity-esque girlfriend for Barry she’s been so far. We already knew that her father had been killed by a metahuman, but here we discovered that metahuman was in fact the Weather Wizard. It’s slightly frustrating when there are two adjacent relationships going on – that between Barry and Patty and between The Flash and Patty, because while we know what’s going on, Patty has no clue that she’s opened up quite that far with her boyfriend yet. Her lack of Flash knowledge hasn’t been actively annoying yet, but it’s getting there. I’d like her to become a bigger part of the show and, to do that, she needs all the facts. We’re left on a cliffhanger that’s simultaneously very similar yet very different from last season’s – Wells is going to help Zoom take down Barry in exchange for his daughter. He doesn’t want to do it because, unlike Thawne, he’s fundamentally a good person, but it’s still his love for his child that drives him. I’ve been so impressed by how The Flash has slotted Wells back into things, all coming to a head in that scene between Barry and an unwitting Harry. It’s the equivalent of his through-glass talks with Henry while he’s off fishing , but it was done so beautifully. Barry has been struggling with what happened last season all year, and maybe this is his way of finally moving on.
All in all, the first half of season two has proven that the show is more than capable of measuring up to its first, with a inordinate amount of intricate pieces in place for an even better string of episodes once we come back.

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED – SEASON 1-2

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CAST (VOICES)

Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Killing Joke)
George Newbern (Superman/Shazam)
Susan Eisenberg (Justice League: Doom)
Phil LaMarr (Futurama)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Maria Canals Barrera (Camp Rock)

Image result for justice league unlimitedRECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Kin Shriner (Manhunter)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Dana Delaney (Desperate Housewives)
Mike Farrell (Vanishing Act)
Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Dakota Fanning (Taken)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Patrick Bauchau (Panic Room)
Michael York (Logans Run)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Robert Foxworth (Syriana)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Billy West (Futurama)
Jeremy Piven (Mr. Selfridge)
Lori Loughlin (Full House)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
John C. McGinley (Highlander II)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Michael Beach (The Abyss)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Ben Browder (Farscape)
Peter MacNicol (Ghostbusters 2)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Nestor Carbonell (The Dark Knight)
Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina: TTW)
Denis Farina (Get Shorty)
Virginia Maden (Sideways)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
Farrah Forke (Lois & Clark)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: DS9)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Michael Jai White (Arrow)
Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: DS9)
Juliet Landau (Buffy)
Alan Rachins (Showgirls)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Jason Bateman (The Ex)
Glenn Shadix (Beetlejuice)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Nathan Fillion (Slither)
Elizabeth Pena (The Incredibles)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Jeffrey Combs (Gotham)
Amy Acker (The Cabin In The Woods)
Robert Forster (Dragon Wars)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Powers Boothe (Agents of SHIELD)
Seymour Cassel (Rushmore)
James Remar (Flashforward)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Malcolm McDowell (Heroes)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Alexis Denisof (Dollhouse)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girl)
Sab Shimono (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)

The first two seasons of Justice League were fantastic. Packed with action, humor and great storytelling the world of DC’s heroes came to life thanks to the collaborative efforts of the folks behind the rest of Warner Brothers’ successful cartoons. The show focused on the adventures of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Flash, Hawkgirl and J’onn (the Martian Manhunter). They spent most of their time fighting established villains and trying to save the world from impending doom as you’d expect. When Justice League Unlimited (the show’s sequel series) was released it shook up the formula a bit and quite frankly, really felt like a new show.


The reason behind this different atmosphere was the change in the cast. The main seven characters were still kicking around but their ranks had swelled since the end of the original series. The basic premise was that the Justice League felt they could do better with more members. Many hands make light work and all that. Therefore anyone with superpowers that could do some good was offered a spot on the team.

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Not every character gets their chance in the spotlight but it certainly fleshed out the show with some of DC’s more obscure characters. Most of these episodes focus on the original characters though many of the rookies become involved in the storytelling. Being a longtime comic book fan, seeing more of these characters was definitely a thrill. Getting Green Arrow added to the ranks was probably the best addition to the show in my opinion, but Supergirl, Booster Gold, Captain Atom, Black Canary and The Question definitely helped round things out. In all more characters were added to the series than the show actually featured so you can imagine the insanity that ensues. Many of these characters do get washed out thanks to the lack of coverage, but it’s not handled to the point that they become obscure or disrupt the quality of the show.

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There  are several episodes that made an impression on me. “Fearful Symmetry” was a very solid story that told a tale about Supergirl and really fleshed out her character. In it she is basically cloned and begins to have dreams that mirror the actions of her sinister clone. Green Arrow and Question get involved in order to help her out and we got to see some interesting facets of the DC Universe.


For my money “The Greatest Story Never Told” was probably my favorite episode. It doesn’t have a lot to do with anything and it’s a fairly weak story but it features Booster Gold as its main character. In case you are unfamiliar with Booster he’s basically a smartass guy from the 25th century who travels back in time for fame and fortune. He’s accompanied by a wisecracking robot named Skeets and finds himself not feeling the love from his other JLU teammates. In this episode he’s given the noble duty of crowd control while the League fights to save the world. There’s nothing particularly great about the story it’s just that I love Booster’s character and quite honestly, this episode was hilarious all around.
“Kid Stuff” was another fun episode that featured Morgan la Fey’s son getting his prissy little hands on a powerful amulet. The item makes him more powerful than his mother and he casts a spell that sends all adults to another dimension. In order to set things right Morgan turns Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern into kids so they can once again enter the world. As their younger selves the heroes start to let their juvenile side out and it’s funny to see Batman and Wonder Woman banter as if they were childhood sweethearts.

Overall Justice League Unlimited was a great show.  Any comic book fan, or viewer who enjoyed Timm’s other series, definitely owes it to themselves to check this set out. This release offers 26 episodes.


Unfortunately, as with all good things, Justice League Unlimited came to end. The show was cancelled before its time but luckily the crew was able to eek out another thirteen episodes before it went off the air. This season’s collection of superhero antics follows an episodic pattern but keeps an ongoing plot bubbling beneath the surface. The two-part adventures from the earlier sessions of Justice League went away with this season but the fact that characters reference previous episodes helps to keep everything connected.

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In the first episode of the final season of Unlimited Lex Luthor is on the run from the law after breaking out of jail. The affects of being joined with Brainiac are still being felt by him and throughout the episode you’ll often see Luthor talk to himself because he sees Brainiac standing next to him. When Gorilla Grodd offers Luthor a piece of Brainiac old baldy finds it hard to resist. He agrees to join Grodd’s Legion of Doom and work together with fellow supervillains to take down the Justice League. This set up continues throughout the season and you’ll find bits and pieces of it in each of the thirteen episodes.

In the second episode of this season the shadow of the Thanagarian conflict lingers as an archaeologist discovers something an Egypt. Shayera (Hawkgirl) is lured there by Carter Hall who tries to convince her that he is Hawkman. This was a nice throwback to the prior season and early Hawkman comic books but was certainly not the best episode in the set.

One of my favorite episodes from his collection easily has to be “Flash and Substance”. Four villains from Flash’s past team up to take down the red blur and they plan on doing it on the opening night of his new museum. Batman and Orion tag along with Flash in order to ensure that he’s ok. The writing in this particular episode was easily the funniest that Justice League ever produced. I particularly enjoyed the villains all sitting around the table at a dive bar talking about making their mortgage payments and whatnot.


Anyone who has ever considered themselves to be a comic book fan at some point in their lives will find something to love about Justice League Unlimited. From the very first season through the last of Unlimited the series offered quality unlike any other. This is a definitive comic book cartoon and stands shoulder to shoulder with WB’s Superman and Batman animated adventures. If you have been collecting the show to date then you’ll be pleased to know that the thirteen episodes featured here are as good, if not better in some cases, as what came before it.

REVIEW: THE FLASH – SEASON 1

CAST

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (Heroes)
Danielle Panabaker (Sky High)
Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries)
Carlos Valdes (Arrow)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jessie L. Martin (Injustice)

NOTABLE / RECURRING GUEST STARS

Chad Rock (Sanctuary)
Michelle Harrison (Tru Calling)
Patrick Sabongui (The Cabin In The Woods)
John Wesley Shipp (90s Flash)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Michael Smith (Fringe)
William Sadler (Iron Man 3)
Anthony Carrigan (Gotham)
Wentworth Miller (Prison Break)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Dominic Purcell (Blade: Trinity)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Kelly Frye (Rake)
Greg Finley (Izombie)
Robert Knepper (R.I.P.D.)
Michael Reventar (Kidnao Capital)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
David Ramsey (Con Air)
Anna Hopkins (Defiance)
Robbie Amell (Scooby-Doo 3 & 4)
Amanda Pays (90s Flash)
Andy Mientus (Smash)
Victor Garber (Alias)
Malese Jow (The Scoial Network)
Britne Oldford (AWOL)
Liam McIntyre (Spartacus)
Nicholas Gonzalez (Sleepy Hollow)
Peyton List (Smallville)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Matt Letschr (The Mask of Zorro)
Viro D’Ambrosio (90s Flash)
Devon Gaye (Dexter)
Brandon Roth (Superman Returns)
Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)
Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files)
Peter bryant (Dark Angel)
Martin Novotny (Art History)
Paul Anthony (American Mary)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)
Ciara Renee (Legends of Tomorrow)

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. 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. 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. 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 Rogues.

 

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. 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 hope.

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.

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: THE FLASH (1990)

CAST

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

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

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

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