Second time around the track
Season 2 Review
DC's fastest - and arguably most fun - small-screen outing, CW's The Flash, keeps running all the way into a strong second season.Although it doesn't quite pack the punch of its darker and more dangerous big brother, Arrow, Barry Allen's fastest-man-on-the-planet benefits from a lighter tone underpinned by some stronger, serious story arcs, and from far fewer flashbacks. It's first season introduced us to a number of new meta-humans (often in a villain-of-the-week-style), ostensibly as a result of a devestating particle accelerator explosion, which actually allowed for a fairly natural exploration - and evolution - of The Flash's different powers and abilities. Although many of these characters were fairly throwaway, a few played a bigger ongoing part, with some crossing over - both from Arrow, and later to DC's Legends of Tomorrow, a trend which continues here, much to the benefit of this second season, which is bolstered by peaks of ensemble energy.The first season used the appearance of meta-humans-of-the-week to drive the ongoing narrative and allow The Flash to be explored in more detail, with the murder of Barry's mother and the hunt for her murderer providing the biggest underlying, ongoing arc. With most of both of those elements dealt with across that first run, the second season seeks an alternative source of direction, heading into the territory of multiple dimensions; the multi-verse, which was also a very popular element of the comic stories. This allows for numerous new meta-humans-of-the-week to be drawn into the piece, as well as some returning foes, but familiarity sets in in this second season which, more often than not, draws its inspiration from tried and tested first season ideas. Nevertheless, The Flash continues to be a lot of fun, and always entertaining, even if its sophomore year isn't quite as gripping and original as its dazzling debut.
Picture QualityThe second season of The Flash boasts a strong if not quite exemplary video presentation
The 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in the show's original aired ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen, manages to retain some nice close-up skin textures, background details, and even clothing features, despite the frequently dark setting. The colour scheme is broad and allows for some striking primaries but, more importantly rich and natural tones which are vibrant and saturated. Black levels are also strong and deep, although they don't always survive either the sheer proliferation of shadows or the style of the piece, and some banding remains evident as a result. It's a glossy, typically framed HD superhero series from the DC/CW mantle, rarely achieving reference glory, but nevertheless delivering the goods.
Sound QualityThe accompanying soundtrack is, conversely, a thoroughly immersive experience
Presented with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, The Flash continues to sound impressive, whipping around the city streets like a streak of lightning, with precisely prioritised effects disseminated across the array, and the proloferation of meta-humans, each in their own way unique (although familiar in a DC/Marvel way), allows for some distinct and striking powers to be delivered right into your living room. The score itself is a welcome, engaging backdrop, maintaining the speed and intensity of the piece, whilst dialogue continues to get firm priority across the frontal array.
ExtrasWhilst Season 2 continues the trend of not sporting any Audio Commentaries, it ups the ante on the background Featurette front, with most episodes not only boasting a selectiong of Deleted Scenes but also their own mini-Featurette focussing on key aspects and arcs across the season. The episodes, again spread out across 4 discs, have their extras rounded out by a more substantial half-hour Roundtable discussion, a Gag Reel and the Kevin Smith centric feature, which explores the director's enthusiasm for the show, the comic and the episode he directed.
Blu-ray VerdictSeason 2 follows the same track as the first but perhaps follows a little too closely
The sophomore season provides more of the same, but does not quite display enough diversity or innovation when compared to the debut series. Nevertheless, The Flash continues to be fast and fun, and the Blu-ray release is a solid, albeit not flawless, rendition worth picking up.
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