In anticpiation of the new The Flash premiering on The CW tomorrow, here’s Nate Winchester’s review of four episodes from the original The Flash series from 1990.  Up today, episodes 8, 9, 10, and 11.

Shroud of Death

Recap: A serial killer stalks Central City, confronting bad redneck performances and later striking the Flash with Kryptonite.

Review: Meh, the only one that seemed to be really enjoying themselves this episode is the prop department who had waaaay too much fun with a sign reading “Sexton” in the opening (and no, it did not seem related to religion in any way) and Amanda Pays who finally got to wear some outfits and hair styles that really flattered her. The crusty old police chief and his lady did have some good chemistry.

3 things I count against this episode.

  1. Julio sees more than enough signs that Barry == the Flash and is not only way too slow to figure it out, but in the end is “disproved” by the Flash running in one direction while Barry speaks up “behind” Julio. In other words, his best friend literally falls for the “hey look over there” distraction and doesn’t think that maybe something like that is easy to pull off FOR A GUY WITH SUPER SPEED! C’mon show, let Julio find out and don’t let him keep looking like a dunce!
  2. I wasn’t kidding about those rays. At one point Flash is hit with a half dozen beams of green light, freezes up, then falls over. Only later is it revealed as having been electricity! You’ve shown a taser on screen before, why not just use one again instead of what looks all the world like kryptonite.
  3. I wasn’t thrilled with the redneck gun shop owner (as I’ve known several gun shop owners personally, and NONE act like that guy) but then when it was revealed later that it was all an act, I’m like “ok, so the guy never met a real redneck”. But the Flash’s interrogation scene… as I’ve said before, Flash isn’t Batman. One of my favorite scenes from the Justice League cartoon is where Flash “defeats” one of his villains just by talking to him and getting him to go back on his meds. While Batman is watching and (we come to find out) actually respecting Flash for his friendlier approach. I can get Flash being none too thrilled about that “kill all homeless” comment, but he should have played the scene differently. He should have used the guy’s fandom to try and get information, then later hint that the fan needed to change his ways (i.e. “I can’t go shooting homeless, some of them are fans too!”). What’s worse is that John Wesley Shipp plays friendly a lot better than scary and the writers aren’t playing up to his strengths!

Side-kick Sighting: Behaving like actual police this episode.

SFX Win: The Sexton sign falling on the car was damn impressive, especially if it was all practical and not models.

SFX Fail: Again, why do you make electricity look like kryptonite?

Conclusion: May well be the worst episode of the series (so far) especially with the way they treated Julio this time.

Ghost in the Machine

Recap: A guy cryogenically freezes himself in the 50s so he can return in the future and conquer the city using TV. I am not making any of that up.

Review: This episode gets so much funnier the further into “the future” you watch it. If the villain in it was disappointed that he didn’t wake up in ’99, there’s no telling how much he should hate not be around right now. On the other hand, things are open-ended enough they could have the same actor & character return to harass the new Flash on his new show for a reference so meta that I’ll die of laughter if I think about it too much.

The old “not-Batman” guy that was a classic crimefighter stole the show and his moments with Barry were a delight. I like to think he already knows who Flash really is but asked him to keep the mask on to help Barry save pride. I dare say (more episodes pending) that this was the moment the series really grew its beard. Part of me wishes they had kept the old crimefighter around for awhile more as a kind of tutor to Barry.

Side-kick Sighting: I know they were in here but the old dude was so cool I’ve forgotten what they were up to.

SFX Win: The Nightshade’s old car is awesome!

SFX Fail: Some of ye-olde computer and TV effects. Those were the days.

Conclusion: So much fun, especially looking back now where our phones have more computing power than the “state-of-the-art” Star Labs mentioned here.

Sight Unseen

Recap: The Flash fights the invisible man and a corrupt government agency while trying to save his UST girl from a death trap. I am not making this up.

Review: Similar to the previous episode in that they go fairly crazy in the set up, only instead of running with the wackiness, this time the writers trade it in for some surprisingly deep themes and reflection. This episode (aired in ’91) combines elements from Star Trek: Deep Space 9’s “Duet” episode (aired in ’93) and the movie, the Rock (’96) years before either one. So points to the Flash. I don’t want to talk too much about it, though, because this is one that’s worth checking out.

Side-kick Sighting: Shows up to help but is told to avoid the door.

SFX Win: The invisibility effects aren’t too bad.

SFX Fail: “Can’t hit what you can’t see”? It doesn’t matter if you’re visible or not if the Flash can literally move faster than you can possible dodge.

Conclusion: An episode that’s a lot deeper and more thought provoking than at first glance. A fine example of plotting and storytelling.

Beat the Clock

Recap: The forces of retconning strike both Barry and Julio as they try to solve in one hour what should have been solved over a year ago.

Review: This one is just weird. So Julio apparently had this guy that was practically a big brother to him… who is serving on death row. Now NEVER in the show has Julio EVER shown even a hint of depression or sadness that this guy he’s known practically all his life is about to die. Sure the writers try to paper over it by saying he’s tried to come to terms with it but… it just doesn’t make any sense. Heck we never see any evidence that Julio even tried to use his own job as a forensic scientist to exonerate his friend!

Really the plot is ridiculously complicated (and not in the fun way like when you have an invisible or TV-manipulating villain) when they could have just reversed it (had the friend be kidnapped and about to be executed by some mobsters rather than the state) with Barry and Julio trying to find the guy in time. Especially when you’ve worked near or with law, the idea that the guy’s conviction wouldn’t have been overturned or mitigated during his many appeals is just silly (especially as they learn things this episode that should have been learned during discovery).

SFX Win: The superspeed fight involving instruments was surprisingly well done.

SFX Fail: The Flash recovers from a fall… somehow. They didn’t think that one through.

Conclusion: I realize I’m slightly biased because of my day job so if you don’t mind (or even enjoy) crazy law plots the hey! Enjoy.

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