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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

THE FLASH Zooms Past the Competition

Article first published as Blu-ray Review: 'The Flash - The Complete Second Season' on Blogcritics.


Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.

While the DC comic universe fails to find success on the big screen, it excels on the small, especially for the shows that air on the CW. The best of these is The Flash, which follows speedster Barry Allen and his friends as they fight metahumans in Central City. The Complete Second Season of The Flash comes to Blu-ray and DVD this Tuesday, September 6th, with the four-disc set providing all twenty-three episodes and a host of extras.

The Flash – The Complete Second Season picks up right where the first year left off. Barry (Grant Gustin) saves the world from a temporal vortex, but in the process, attracts the attention of the people on the other side. Let’s call where those other people live Earth 2, because that’s what the show names their locale. Like their counterparts on our Earth (Earth 1), Earth 2 residents deal with metahumans, but while many of their faces seem familiar, with all of the main cast popping up in alter ego form, their personalities do not.

Introducing Earth 2 is convenient for The Flash. It lets the actors on the show have some fun, with heroes tapping into their inner villain. It also keeps things unpredictable, including who someone is at times, since there’s always another character who looks exactly the same lurking nearby. It opens the door for another version of The Flash from the comics, this one named Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears, Masters of Sex), and a new big bad, Zoom. Most importantly, it allows The Flash to retain Tom Cavangh in the cast, whose Harrison Wells turned out to be the bad guy in season one, and was promptly killed.

Normally, I would worry that having Cavangh come back as a very different Dr. Wells cheapens the other Wells’ death. In this case, however, it does not, partly because fans weren’t sad about the first one’s death. The Flash has firmly established the differences between the various characters that each cast member plays, and because the tone of the series is fun, rather than high drama, it enhances things to bring back a solid actor as someone else. I don’t want to give much away about the ending of the season, but I found myself very, very grateful for the convention at year’s close.

Which is not to say that The Flash doesn’t have some new players this year, too. Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale, Dance Academy), Joe’s (Jesse L. Martin) long-lost son, shows up, as does Harrison’s daughter, Jesse (Violett Beane, The Leftovers). Again, I often find it annoying when TV programs bring in new family members, but again, The Flash bucks the trend and makes these two worthwhile contributors who help the show, not hurt it. This is a rare series that can go in expected directions, but use its charm to make that all right.

There are a LOT of extras on The Flash – The Complete Second Season. There’s the now-obligatory shortened Comic Con panel that we all wish was longer, along with deleted scenes and a gag reel. I am also very excited about the inclusion of an episode of Arrow from the shows’ two-part crossover, both halves of which are also in Arrow’s recent release, the doubling up beneficial for those who only follow one of the series (though you should watch both).

There are also a ton of featurettes on special effects, which is great for a show that has so many, and some shorts focuses on important story points, such as Barry and Iris’ (Candice Patton) relationship, the backstory of Firestorm, an introduction to Dr. Light, and many more. A lot of these maybe should have been in the DC’s Legends of Tomorrow DVD set instead, given that some of those featured are main characters on that spin-off, but at least fans get them here, better than never seeing them at all. Overall, it’s a ton of material, much of it good (though some is fluff), and I give the set high marks for its bonus features.

The Flash – The Complete Second Season will be released this Tuesday.

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