Flash Back – Classic Flash episodes 16-19

For those who may not have heard, the CW Seed has put ALL the episodes of the 90s Flash series online.

So from now on you’re not just getting a review, but a link to the actual episode! So if you want to catch what I’m talking about, just click the episode heading to jump right to it.

(I’ve also changed the title now to their designation of “classic flash.”)

the Deadly Nightshade

Recap: A sequel to the previous nightshade episode. Think if Batman Beyond and Knightfall had a love child.

Review: “You have failed this city!”

Hang on, I think I’m watching the wrong show. I mean this one has a rich guy who turns his riches to the cause of vigilantism in order to make up for his father previously helping criminals declaring to do what is best for the city. At one point he fights the Flash. And Flash is being mentored by a superhero who has no powers, just gadgets, training, and wits. Did I put in Arrow?

Wait, there’s Denise Crosby and Jerry Ryan! Hey it’s Richard Burgi! (who’s been in almost everything – including Firefly) Am I watching sci-fi?

*checks disc*

No, this is the 90s Flash show.

Needless to say, this is an episode that seems downright prophetic when you watch it today. But if keeping track of all the parallels isn’t your kind of thing, we do have Central City’s previous superhero return, and him & Barry have great chemistry. There’s also a lot of charm in a few scenes where the Nightshade meets up with crooks he used to fight against. Of course all of them are a bit too old to fight today, so they end up sounding like old friends than enemies. It’s strangely touching. I really hate that Jason Bernard passed away because bringing him back for an episode in the new Flash series would have been great.

Side-kick Sighting: Neither of them appeared in this episode.

SFX Win: I just really liked the Deadly Nightshade’s red, glowing eye mask. That would be cool for cosplayers.

SFX Fail: At one point a secret garage door opens up to let the Nightshade drive out of his secret lair. After it closes, you see Barry leave via a side entrance. Why couldn’t he leave the same way the car did?

Conclusion: A hundred times more entertaining nowadays, especially if you play a “like Arrow” drinking game with it.

Captain Cold

Recap: The episode title is called “Captain Cold” do you even NEED me to explain what happens?

Review: So yeah, Captain Cold appears after being hired by Weyoun. While he squares off against the Flash (as you might expect), the police department runs afoul of a reporter who is trying to figure out who on the force is the Flash (and has a crush on Barry), which is completely unlike Denise Crosby last episode who liked Barry (and went out with him) but distrusted the Flash.

Actually [spoiler alert!] at the end of the episode the reporter comes to the conclusion that the Flash is actually JULIO who is putting on white face! Ok, while hilarious, it does make one wonder about minority superheroes. Part of keeping a secret identity is reducing your identifying features (Superman is a special case). If a feature can be used to identify you as a member of a smaller group (i.e. maybe someone notices the new hero is left-handed), that makes picking out your real name much easier.

It still bugs me that Barry hasn’t told his “best friend” Julio. Well actually less that and more that when Julio almost figures it out (or even SEES Barry use superspeed), Barry trolls the guy to keep him in the dark. Heck if Julio knew, he could HELP Barry quite a bit.

Side-kick Sighting: Murphy becomes convinced that he should write a memoirs. By episode end you almost want to read it.

SFX Win: The makeup effects to make Michael Champion look like an albino are actually pretty good.

SFX Fail: Some of the freezing effects (especially on the ground when Flash is running) don’t hold up well.

Conclusion: Not a bad episode, but does feel weaker being so close to the excellent “Deadly Nightshade.”

Twin Streaks

Recap: Flash gets cloned and must fight against himself in the original red vs blue!

Review: Other than the first couple of episodes, this was the only other episode I got to see on TV before the show went off the air. It stuck out in my mind then and watching it again I remember why. The bad guys use a toy robot (yes, REALLY!) to get a sample of Flash’s blood and from there create a clone for their own purposes. Of course they grow the clone to full adulthood right away, which means John Wesley Shipp gets to play the role of a man literally born yesterday.

I admit, I want to see if I can use TV4TROU to get a mini interview with JWS about this episode because one wonders if he was always on the edge of breaking character acting like a big baby* (no really, in one scene he has to play with blocks, AND FAIL). Then at one point he has to dress up in a deep blue version of his costume and play on a merry-go-round at super speed!

How ANYBODY made this episode with a straight face is beyond me. The writers try to have some pathos going with a “who am I?” identity crisis arc with the clone but it doesn’t quite hit the mark when minutes earlier you had a scene where JWS has food smeared all over him after getting in the fridge.

*Of course this episode was made in the 90s when the internet was young so watching an adult act like a big baby was still a novelty.

Side-kick Sighting: Again, sirs not appearing in this film.

SFX Win: Some of the composite shots of JWS & JWS still look pretty good on a huge, high def TV.

SFX Fail: The clones “burning themselves” up. Cheesy negative overlay effect.

Conclusion: Silly and Fun. Watch it.

Done with Mirrors

Recap: Mirror Master appears! As well as Tina’s mother and a former classmate of Barry.

Review: So in this iteration, Mirror Master (as played by… David Cassidy?) can use these quarter sized mirrors to make holograms that are more advanced than what we have NOW. Then even after seeing that they are holograms and aren’t real, Barry gets fooled a few more times by them! The most groan-worthy is the hologram that he’s “covered in snakes”, even though snakes are, you know, heavy! I could see him briefly delaying as his body tries to process the two different inputs (“the eyes say I’m covered, but I don’t feel being covered”), his whole scream-panic reaction is just wrong.

As usual the overall plot works far less than the characters as both Tina & Barry have people from their pasts reenter their lives. Tina & her mom are good, you could believe them as related. However, the blonde classmate (yet ANOTHER girl-of-the-week for Barry) was just a sheer load. She ends up being the driving force of the episode, which sucks because it takes more time away from the more entertaining Tina/Mom stuff. Towards the end the episode improves when Mirror Master ends up believing that mom is involved on the scam against him and you kind of wish the entire episode was about Barry & Tina trying to sort out a criminal (yet comical) misunderstanding about mom. Instead we get an episode that tries to do so much it ends up accomplishing nothing well.

Side-kick Sighting: Seen with Barry discussing the virtues of various hot dog forms. Central City invented the corndog you know.

SFX Win: Cowboy in the street. That is all.

SFX Fail: The “Tina holding the mime” effect is so obviously forced perspective.

Conclusion: Another “Flash’s rogues” episode, this one is probably the weakest.

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3 thoughts on “Flash Back – Classic Flash episodes 16-19

  1. On the subject of the superhero genre… do you think it’s possible for any new IP’s not developed by Marvel and DC to last and not feel like a retread of certain things?

    • The more it comes from an outside, non-american culture, the more likely it is, I think (hence anime/manga surge).

      Within american culture, soooooo much has been done and covered avoiding that retread is going to be hard, especially given that most any story you’d need to invent someone for could probably be told by the existing or premade characters.

      I’ll never say “never” but the odds are stacked against.

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