The Flash Season 1 Blu-ray Review
Heady ideas and adult situations happily hold hands with the frivolous comedy elements
First Season Review
My name is Barry Allen and I'm the fastest man alive. A friend recently gave me the idea for a new name and something tells me it's gonna catch on.As the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to dominate theatres, their foray into TV was inevitable, with shows like Daredevil kicking off a plan to take over the airwaves as well. So you could be forgiven for thinking DC is getting lost in the maelstrom. However, this is not so, with hit shows such as Gotham, Constantine and Arrow forging their own canon. It was this latter series that gave rise to tonight’s feature (from a small cameo by Barry Allen), later to be known as The Flash. Barry is a forensic scientist working for the police and a giant science nerd, that is until one fateful night he is struck by lightning and turned into a metahuman; his ability – speed. With his established pattern of friends and the scientists of STAR labs looking out for him, Barry dons the masked red, friction and heat resistant suit.He then uses his speed to fight crime and track down others affected by the labs particle acceerator accident. What marks The Flash out from its contemporary shows is the tone – whereas the current trend is to go dark (even DC’s own shows), The Flash bucks this by going far lighter but with darker elements (such as Barry’s traumatic childhood); think of Joss Weadon’s Buffy and you get the idea. This makes the show as easy watching, suitable for everyone; the heady ideas and adult situations happily hold hands with the frivolous comedy elements that give the show an overall sense of fun. The series takes a few episodes to find its feet but once on a roll with the introduction of suitable enemies and Barry’s natural chemistry, the show soon becomes an incredibly enjoyable ride.
Picture QualityThe discs present a broadcast correct, widescreen 1.78:1 1080p transfer using the AVC codec and are Region free.
A very nice bright and detailed image from the creative team gives The Flash a clean look; skin texture is nicely seen, clothing has discernible weave (check out the updated suit), whilst the foreground is peppered with pin sharp lines from computer consoles to paperwork and distance shots, such as Flash speeding through the cityscape, are near picture postcard perfect. Colours are vibrant and strong with all the primaries coming off with aplomb, the deep red of the suit, the cool blue of the skies and the mid-tones of the STAR labs are well defined and show no signs of wash or bleed.
A bright and detailed image gives The Flash a clean lookBrightness and contrast are set to give very acceptable blacks, leading to a decent punch to the frame. Depth is well handled and the shadows hold the occasional bout of detail when required. The tone of the show relies a lot on the colour scheme and darkness level; the former is bright, the latter set to keep that level, thus deep moody blacks have no place – but that’s just fine. Digitally there are no compression problems or edge enhancement. The CG sits very nicely within the frame and being digitally shot there are no issues with print damage. Very occasional banding was the only problem spotted; otherwise this is a terrific picture.
Sound QualityThe English DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track is equally as impressive, with a myriad of effects from street noise to the Flash’s super speed helping to place you in the centre of the action. Surround speakers are used throughout to fill out ambience as well as add to the directionality of effects (loved the spark of electricity that signals an ad break!). Dialogue is always clean and clear and never in any danger of being lost, it sounds perfectly natural, dominated by the fontal array, but is given a little directionality when required. Bass is well grounded and does help to fill out the bigger effects, while never becoming overbearing and thick; it never plumbs the subterranean depths but the sub has plenty to keep it busy. The score, too, fares very well and makes full use of all the speakers which aids to the surround environment.
ExtrasAudio Commentary – Just the one, on the pilot episode with contributions from executive producers Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and chief creative officer Geoff Johns, who discuss in amongst their love of the character, how the series came to be, changes between this and the series, the ‘hidden’ Easter eggs and the comic origins, all with an infectious enthusiasm for their show.
Deleted Scenes – Can be accessed via a scissors icon on their respective episode or through their own dedicated menu section; a few minutes usually and mostly removed due to timing, though extraneous exposition and plot giveaways often contribute.
Behind The Story: The Trickster Returns! – Short feature (8 mins) with Mark Hamill discussing his turn as this iconic Rogue some 20 years after he played the same in the 90’s show.
The Fastest Man Alive – A thirty minute look at the series, its themes, comic book origins, how certain stories and character arcs made their way into the series and how this new characterisation is a direct descendant of his 50's incarnation, all from the show’s cast and crew.
Creating The Blur - the VFX of The Flash – A substantial near thirty minute look at the ‘ground-breaking’ effects developed for the series, the amount of effects per episode and how they are achieved on a tight budget and even tighter deadline, decisions on CG and practical effects as well as effects passes and stunts also make up this packed feature.
The Chemistry of Emily and Grant Screen Test – A brief (four minutes) look what the creators used to determine if Grant Gustin has the prerequisite heart needed to carry his own series in his cameo for the Arrow series despite not quite looking the part – guess he did!
DC Comics Night at Comic-Con 2014: Presenting Gotham, The Flash, Constantine and Arrow – Cast and crew of these four DC TV shows on stage moderated by Geoff Johns as they discuss their respective involvement and development for the year (2014). Again, an awful lot packed into thirty minutes.
Gag-Reel – Eight minutes of goofs, gaffs and guffaws.
Blu-ray VerdictThe Flash is the CW TV networks latest show from DC comics starring Grant Gustin (as the titular character) and surrounding him are a wealth of talent that really bring out the chemistry between the characters, including Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin. The show is light and bright, takes on some serious issues but always with a twinkle in its eye meaning there is an overriding sense of fun to the proceedings despite some quite dark moments (such as Barry’s traumatic childhood). This sets it apart from its closest rivals (even on its own channel) – think more Guardians of the Galaxy than The Winter Soldier (or for a DC example, more Donner’s 1978 Superman than Man of Steel) – and is what makes the show such a success.
The pilot deals with the origin of the Flash and sticks pretty close to his ‘Silver Age’ transformation though the Flashpoint Paradox does play a part and it is great to see this interwoven into this series – it gives Barry a suitable justification for his actions and a terrific drive to be better, creating real superhero motivation. Initially a bit ‘monster of the week’ the show soon develops story arcs and continuing threads that knit the whole season together (think Buffy) leading to a can’t-wait-until-next-season finale.
With a terrific cast, a nod to the comics, textured storytelling and an overriding sense of fun, this new incarnation of The Flash is a real winner.
Warner’s Blu-ray set is a pretty good package. The picture and sound are top notch being both bright, detailed and full of colour, and clean, precise and well layered respectively. The extras are quite light, but do go some way into explaining how the show works and what it takes to make a good one like this last.
You can buy The Flash on Blu-ray here
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £27.00
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