Flash Back – 90s Flash episodes 12-15

Man, its hiatus time… not much to write about.  I’m bummed Flash is off the air.  Gues I could write a season 1 review but not much to say that I haven’t already in the episodes themselves.

Oh hey!  What’s this old DVD sitting on my desk?  the Flash?  That’s right!  The 90s era TV show, I didn’t finish rewatching all of it.  Well time get right back into the swing of things.

the Trickster

Recap: Mark Hamil shows up to play a villain that is not quite the Joker.  No I am NOT making this up.

Review: It’s no secret that almost every superhero ends up with a crazy-esque Joker-like villain in their rogues gallery (even though it’s arguable that the Joker isn’t crazy, just unrestrained).  The real question is whether that character ends up truly on their own or remains trapped as lame copy.

Whatever else you might say about him, in this episode the Trickster really does come off as a different flavor of crazy (and wearing a suit even MORE garish than the Joker’s certainly helps) so kudos to Mark & the writers for creating a stand out character.  It’s obvious to see why this episode ended up having a “sequel” in season 1.

Another thing I like this episode is the bit with the policemen’s costume ball and it revealing that at least a 3rd (if not half) of the attendees dressed up as the Flash.  It is a nice touch and a good way of showing the audience that the Flash is inspiring people than telling us that he is.

Side-kick Sighting: Officer Bellows becomes convinced that Officer Murphy is really the Flash. Event conspire to reinforce that impression.  This is probably one of the best moments between these two in this series.

SFX Win: Barry in the water tank. I don’t know how they did that without CGI, but I’m glad JWS or his stunt double wasn’t hurt.

SFX Fail: Flash juggling with himself (and using that to knock out Trickster) has NOT aged well at all.

Conclusion: Remembered as the best of the series and it’s easy to see why.  This episode sticks in your mind more than any other.

Tina, is that You?

Recap: Tina comes down with the most extreme case of bipolar disorder ever because of the Flash’s dreams.  I am NOT making this up.

Review: It’s a traditional trope in fantastical works for a character to get split into two – a good side and evil side usually (even the original Star Trek did that with Cpt Kirk).

This is not that episode.

Well… it kind of is.

What it really is is that Barry keeps having a dream about that trope happening to Tina and it keeps him from sleeping.  In a bizarre series of events that are too ludicrous even by comic book standards, Tina gets infected by this dream and starts acting out in the real world same as she was in the dream world.

After that she goes to join an all-girl biker gang to commit crime, using her knowledge to cause some problems for Barry.  Stuff happens then things go back to “normal” for the flash world.

Side-kick Sighting: Some usual cop stuff, nothing outstanding or memorable.

SFX Win: The super-speed trashing of the hospital lobby was a nice touch (like pacing so fast he wore a rut in the floor).

SFX Fail: Barry’s super speed messing up really came off as the crew knew what they wanted, but didn’t know how to put it on film.

Conclusion: If you want to see Amanda Pays in leather (and I don’t blame you), definitely an episode to watch.  Otherwise, very “meh” and feels like the writing staff hashed this out at the last minute.

Be my Baby

Recap: Robert Z’Dar! Lazerdisk! Ninja Stars! Bryan Cranston! I AM MAKING NONE OF THIS UP!

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Review: There is a… I’m going to call it a theory (correct me if I’m wrong) in comedy (and probably applicable to other things, like horror) of “blue doesn’t show up on blue.”  Basically, if you want something to be wacky & funny, you put it in a very mundane setting, because it won’t be as noticeable if everything else around it is wacky & funny.

So, when you have a show like the Flash, where a guy runs around at speeds barely attainable by jets, something like time-travel (coming soon – or has it already been?) doesn’t seem that weird.  But you take something mostly ordinary (like a crime boss) then just have him pull a ninja star from his sleeve?  That ends up being even wackier because of the contrast.

And that’s this episode.  Plot?  Bryan Cranston is a crime boss (big stretch, I know) who wants to kidnap a lady’s baby (that also happens to be his).  The execution makes it all weirder than when the Trickster showed up.

Side-kick Sighting: They did some stuff.  I’m actually giving this bit to Barry’s mom who reappears this episode, running a kind of children day care out of the house.

SFX Win: The stunt work done in the Flash/Z’dar fight.

SFX Fail: None.  This episode is perfect.

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Conclusion: In this era of post-Breaking Bad, this is definite episode to rewatch for the sheer hilarious in hindsight humor to be found soaking every film cell. (and yes, at one point there is a line about lazerdisks in there AND ROBERT Z’DAR!)

Fast Forward

Recap: In this episode, continuity is remembered and Barry’s enemy from the first episode sends him into the future where his evil is law.  Now Barry seeks to return to the past, and undo the future that is… Pike*.

Review: I admit, I did not know that the first Flash series had ALSO had a time travel episode.  Only this time instead of Barry traveling back by accident, he travels forward by accident and learns how bad things get in the far off future of… 2001.

Of course without the Flash there, the villain won the day, and took over the city.  Barry, who had been having a crisis of faith, learns just how much he means to everyone (a case of them telling us how much Barry inspires instead of the showing they previously did).

This episode is probably one of the best examples to watch in order to grasp the great differences between old and current TV storytelling.  There was just no continuity back then, each episode was largely self contained whereas now each episode builds on the previous.  What this leads to is a noticeable change in acting.  Nowadays, actors can build upon their performance in degrees, carrying over the work they did previously into their next performance.  Back then?  You can see that they’re trying to pack in a whole lot of emotion into a smaller container.  So moments between Barry & his nephew, Shawn, or between Barry & his best friend, Julio that might have been spread out over the season, are all stuffed into this hour segment.

But I can’t really say which one is better (well, as far as acting goes, obviously storytelling wise continuity works best) because, boy do these guys and girls on screen work hard to get the audience to these emotional places.  For example, while I may give John Wesley Shipp a bit of grief over his grief scene in episode 1 (which was undercut by the red uniform), here he makes up for it when future Julio dies (spoiler? oh you knew everybody was going to die in an alt future) – even though he is, again, in a red uniform.  Sometimes with the current style, things can end up so underplayed, the scene ends up losing the punch it should have (like Eddie in the new Flash series, his despair didn’t quite come off as well as Grant’s despair at his mom’s fate).

Though, really?  The whole episode revolves around a BIKER GANG LEADER getting his hands on a HEAT-SEEKING MISSILE then taking over a city and running it in clear violation of a lot of US Federal Laws.  After all that, the time-travel was the most believable thing.

Side-kick Sighting: Old, burnt out sellers of Flash contraband who have been broken in this world.  It’s really depressing.

SFX Win: The moment at the end with two flashes (because of the time travel) and their merger worked well.  It also explained what happened to the 2nd flash which the new series never did!

SFX Fail: The explosions.  Wow.

Conclusion: Emotionally powerful in some spots, extremely goofy in others.  Prepare for major whiplash.

*I will provide +100 internets and +3 respect to anyone who gets the reference.

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