Short Thoughts on “The Flash” (1990)

So the other short series that I decided to watch after “Birds of Prey” was “The Flash”.  Again, this is a series that I had already watched and even rewatched before this, so it won’t really be a spoiler to point out that after watching it this time I’ll likely watch it again.

The series has the same sort of setting as “Batman:  The Animated Series”, where it takes place in an I guess 50sish Central City but the technology they have access to as a matter of course — both in Barry’s crime lab and at Star Labs — is way too advanced for that time period, and they even have cars and other things more suited to the time than to the 50s.  So it really does seem like a faux 50s than really the 50s, which is a bit distracting, especially since they never really acknowledge it in any way.  I think I would have rathered they just make it the 90s and rolled with it, but then part of the things they tried to do with it — especially the noir PI Megan Lockhart — wouldn’t have worked so well, as in the setting they seem normal and expected but in a strict 90s setting they would have seemed out of place and the characters would have seemed like throwbacks, which would have hurt the characters.  So it’s 6 of one, half a dozen of the other.

While the series seems to start by giving Barry the traditional romantic interest of Iris West, after the first episode she leaves the series and the romantic interests are split between Girls of the Week, the scientist Tina, and the aforementioned PI Megan Lockhart.  I liked Lockhart as a character, but because of how the show is structured it really seems to make Tina the preferred pairing, because while Lockhart is fun and works well with him when she’s there, she keeps leaving and Tina is always there, and she is the one who gets the “I have to leave but will stay for you” plots which makes us think that if they would only admit how much they care for each other everything would be settled.  And while I like the characters, I find the romance a bit tepid.  I’d like them to get together, but am not really interested in seeing how they get together.

The super suit, in early episodes, looked absolutely terrible.  While it gets better in later episodes, they still show the original one in the opening credits and it really stands out.  In general, the special effects are not at all good, which can be distracting.  The worst is probably the super speed stacking or removing of objects, as it’s supposed to happen in a second before anyone can react and yet it happens so slowly, with lots of time to show the reactions of the villains which makes us wonder why they don’t just do something.  The high speed running shown from the perspective of Barry works pretty well to let us get the sense of the speed without relying on special effects that they didn’t have access to.

The plots are basically a mix of serious drama and off-the-wall humour, which mostly works . The drama is what you’d see from shows like “Airwolf” and “Knight Rider”, and the humour is … pretty much what you’d see from “Knight Rider” as well.  So it makes for decent light entertainment, especially when the actors manage to get a handle on their characters and so stumble less through their lines.

That more humourous attitude also carries over to an important role for Mark Hamill, that of the Trickster.  Remember, this was a year or two before his breakout voice acting role as the Joker in “Batman:  The Animated Series”, and yet there’s a lot of similarities in terms of the voice and in terms of chewing the scenery between those two roles.  It’s hard to imagine that there’s no connection between Hamill being the Trickster and Hamill becoming the Joker, even if I couldn’t find that link.  Anyway, those episodes are some of the best because they leverage the absurdities of the setting and so don’t have to try to be at all serious, and the odder episodes seem to be the ones that work best for this series.  And, of course, Hamill does a great job with the villainous role itself, which makes it fun to watch.

All-in-all, it’s good, light entertainment that is a bit too goofy in general to work as a drama so it’s fortunate that it spends most of its time embracing the goofiness.  It definitely has its flaws in terms of special effects, acting at times, and writing, but overall it’s entertaining enough to watch without a constant rolling of the eyes.  As noted above, I definitely could rewatch it again.  Again.

4 Responses to “Short Thoughts on “The Flash” (1990)”

  1. natewinchester Says:

    Wasn’t that long I did a rewatch myself. You can see the series was pretty heavily influenced by Burton’s Batman though they started lightening up by the end.

    Favorite episode IIRC is the one where he teams up with the old hero that served before him. Like BtAS “Beware the Grey Ghost” it was a touching episode.

    Interesting tidbit, the animated series Joker originally wasn’t voiced by Hamill. I don’t think he sent this series as an audition tape but I wonder if the experience made him more open to the idea of playing a villain.

    • verbosestoic Says:

      Yeah, that episode and “Beware the Grey Ghost” worked really well to show the issues with someone fading away, and the BtAS one actually had the lovely casting gag of having Adam West voice the character and so making it a potential statement on his own career (and it was also, if I recall correctly, responsible for restarting it a bit).

  2. Thoughts on “Legends of Tomorrow” | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] — starting with “Stargirl” and running through “Birds of Prey” and “The Flash” — I mentioned what I was watching to a friend of mine and he recommended “Legends of […]

  3. Accomplishments Update | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] “Stargirl”, and then went on to rewatch “Birds of Prey” and the 1990 “Flash” TV series, before keeping up the superhero theme with “Legends of Tomorrow”, and then […]

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