The Flash: Season One Blu-ray Review

Flashiness

A delectable time travel story builds throughout The Flash, using wonky scientific processes and allegories concerning particle accelerators to function. Behind it all is a slew of CW-isms – lanky high school level romances, momentary weddings, and regurgitated love triangles – but it’s the nerdy, pulpy nature of The Flash which is too delightful to be brought under the spell of CW’s intended demographics.

By its first season close, The Flash introduces telepathic sewer monkeys for villains. The show veers that far into golden age goofiness, this after spending ample time on a villain-of-the-week process which is rarely engaging, if true to weekly comic lore. Irony is how slow the first half of the season is. Flash plods – even limps – along in its earliest episodes. The Flash isn’t routine so much as it owns the formulaic execution – Flash/Barry Alan (Grant Gustin) meets his foe, is conquered, science learns, he wins. The show is desperate for a centralized villain… and then it turns out it had one all along.

For all the time Flash appears to be throwing itself away on a barely serialized narrative, it’s not. Things are happening. By the time Flash wraps people, places, and things together, the writing’s clarity is prepared to pounce with a multitude of reveals. Despite levity even within the heartiest drama, there is a tinge of seriousness. The Flash is heading for a cataclysm – which so happens to be initiated by a small band of heroic, intellectual science majors holed up in a technologically (and architecturally) impressive lab.

The Flash is able to celebrate the often inane weirdness of the source medium…

Central City employs more than Barry Allen. The nature of commercialized cross-overs means CW’s neighboring, less affable super hero Arrow is injected into Flash’s world in DC’s me-too, “Marvel did it,” approach to universe connectivity. The Flash is capable sans Arrow though. Characters are rich enough to pull things together, from walking, geeky t-shirt commercial Cisco (Carlos Valdes), proper Caitlin (Danielle Panbaker), and brilliant crew leader Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), there is a tremendous base to build upon into a second season. Iris and Joe West (Candice Patton and Jesse L Martin, respectively) are built-in emotional support. Toss in fan service with original TV Flash John Wesley Shipp (in a small role) and Mark Hammill’s cameo as his near genius ’60s era bad guy Trickster for the glossy finish.

The Flash is not only smart – eventually – it’s a dash of color and smiles in a DC universe swallowed by excessive shadows. If Daredevil is Marvel’s dark side, Flash finally gives DC their light. A bit of giddiness is well served and Flash needs it too. By the time the season is reconstructing crime scenes from mirrors placed at murder scenes 20-years prior, things cannot be too serious. That’s what The Flash is able to celebrate, the often inane weirdness of the source medium while producing a careful (if pokey in development) cast of characters. And by that finale – the beautiful, wild, and appreciably kooky finale – The Flash plays with its audience, removes itself from predictability, and goes all-in with what the season had done best, which as is revealed, was just about everything.

Movie ★★★★☆ 

The Flash Season One Blu-ray screen shot 16

Cable broadcasts are awful. Viewing The Flash in weekly airings and then here is a revelation. While Warner’s encode has stumbles and low bitrates, image quality is often flawless. Aliasing on city aerial shots is one of the few hiccups. Sharpness is exquisite, this in spite of cinematography which tends to latch itself onto accentuated, fuzzy light sources. Every bulb in the frame is a sizzler.

Up close, facial definition proves marvelous, jumping between perfect and slightly less perfect. Mostly perfect. Resolution compared to TV airings is laughable. Fidelity squeezed from the digital images on Blu-ray puts Flash up there with some of cinema’s sharpest.

Although The Flash is brighter than DC’s typical output, action at night is frequent. Shadows are gorgeous. Black levels never lose their oomph and thus the show benefits greatly from constant depth.

Warner crams six 45-minute episodes onto most of the discs in this set. That is a space hog. While early episodes rarely show the pinch outside of limited noise, later ones which layer some flashback scenes with faux grain do suffer. Compression is hefty, and the results are images which lose their clarity in a sad exchange for artifacts. While only a few percent of the run time, issues are severe enough to warrant concern.

Video ★★★★☆ 

The Flash’s TV-made audio lacks the punch of theatrical super hero offerings, as if the expectation would be any different. Bass is pale and surround use is limiting. Luckily, Barry Allen is a character who makes an exit to all manner of screen corners resulting in a frequent burst of activity in directional speakers. Action scenes are reserved. Gunfire pinging the surrounds is rare even in the more bombastic scenarios. Explosions outside of the lab accident which creates Allen’s alter ego and a sizable season closer are weak in their impact.

This DTS-HD offering does have spots of ambiance. Inside the sewers, water drips into the rears. Offices are well contained. A cafe set is lively too. There is some energy to the series, albeit limited by TV’s nature.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

Fastest Man Alive begins the bonuses on disc four, which houses the majority. This 30-minute, spoiler-heavy feature digs into the character’s lore and the show’s approach. It offers pleasing depth in the time it is given. Creating the Blur details the visual effects while discussing the differences between TV and film creation in this aspect (26:25).

The Chemistry of Ellen and Grant focuses on the cross-over aspect and how Gustin screen tested alongside one of The Arrow mainstays. A Comic-Con panel features key players from Flash, Arrow, Constantine, and Gotham, running a half hour total. Trickster Returns brings in Mark Hammill to discuss his return to the role. A gag reel is lengthy and full of laughs.

Deleted scenes are on each disc for their respective episodes and the pilot is granted a crowded commentary.

Extras ★★★★☆ 

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

[display_rating_form]
[display_rating_result]

Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.