A Beorning Guide to Shire Taverns

by Hrothdal Beornir

A modern Beorning, off on his own for the first time, is bound to find himself in some fairly strange places, and some would say there are few stranger than the Land of the Halflings. But one makes do, and no matter where one’s paws tread, one will be ahead of the game if one is well versed in the most important of landmarks – taverns. In this respect, the Shire is quite wealthy indeed. Here is everything a young Beorning needs to know about the taverns of the Shire.

Michel Delving

The Bird and the Baby Inn

Bird and Baby

We begin our trek in the de facto capital of The Shire near the far Western border, Michel Delving. Hobbiton may be more famous thanks to not one, but two abnormal Hobbits with horrible fashion sense when it comes to jewelry, but all roads lead to Michel Delving.


House Beer: Blagrove’s Brown

  • Menu Description: ‘A beer for the telling of tall tales’
  • Price: 1 silver 60 copper

House Wine: Old Winyards

  • Menu Description: ‘A fine wine of the Southfarthing’
  • Price: 3 silver 20 copper

Comments: Blagrove’s Brown is a reasonably sturdy brew that goes down easy. Get it fast as rumor has it that the proprietor of this fine establishment will be switching to a craft-ale based on an older recipe. The house wine, Old Winyards, is the real draw of this locale. A fruity base with a hint of nut and a fragrant bouquet, this fine vintage will set you back a few silver, but it is definitely worth the hit to the wallet.


The Ivy Bush Inn

Ivy Bush

Heading East, we come to the home of the two Bagginses. Bilbo and Frodo may well have changed Middle-Earth forever, but, in The Shire, they are known more for putting Hobbiton on the map, much to the chagrin of the locals.


House Beer: Thistlebelly Brew

  • Menu Description: ‘A draught to prickle your innards’
  • Price: 1 silver 60 copper

House Wine: Whitebranch

  • Menu Description: ‘Sweet and mellow, golden as sunrise’
  • Price: 1 silver 60 copper

Comments: Despite the esteem of Hobbiton, The Ivy Bush Inn is obviously a local and they don’t seem too keen on bringing in the travelers. Thistlebelly Brew feels exactly like it sounds going down and I’ve licked actual white branches that had more taste than the house wine. However, if you are looking for a cheap buzz, you could do worse.


The Green Dragon

Green Dragon

Down the road a little to the South-East, we run into the village of Bywater. There isn’t much to do here except drink, so I guess it is fortunate that The Green Dragon exists.


House Beer: Green Dragon’s Breath Ale

  • Menu Description: ‘A brew that’s true, of amber hue’
  • Price: 1 silver 60 copper

House Wine: 1404 Vintage Reserve

  • Menu Description: ‘Ruby wine from a memorable year’
  • Price: 3 silver 20 copper

Comments: The…uhhh…wine. Not bad. I don’t remember what this year is. Super a lot of money for this. The…uhhh…beer. Pretty good. Dragons are cool. Green Dragons are probably cooler because…green. I’ve never smelled Dragon breath…but this is probably close.


The Floating Log Inn

Floating Log

What is there to say about Frogmorton that hasn’t already been said? Seriously…I want to know because I’ve got nothing.


House Beer: Toad’s Tongue Ale

  • Menu Description: ‘An acquired taste, but well worth the trouble’
  • Price: 1 silver 60 copper

House Wine: N/A

Comments: Beer…foamy. Beer…good. Toad’s Tongue??? TOAD’S TONGUE?!?!?! Huuuhhhhhrrrrrrrgggghhh.


The Golden Perch

Golden Perch

We’ve finally made it to the far Eastern edge of The Shire, just a dwarf’s toss from the great river Brandywine. Stock does one thing, but it does it really well and The Golden Perch is the proof. Stock’s major export? Alcoholic Hobbits.


House Beer: Old Withywindle

  • Menu Description: ‘The best beer in the Eastfarthing…or used to be’
  • Price: 3 silver 20 copper

House Wine: Brandy Wine

  • Menu Description: ‘Deep as the river, and as like to drag you under’
  • Price: 1 silver 60 copper

Comments: Grrrrrrrrr…ROAR!!!!


‘Well, there you have it folks, the taverns of The Shire from West to East in all their…’

‘You forgot Brockenborings.’


‘Brockenborings. Northwest of Stock? The Plough and Stars?


‘Near Scary.’


(Several horrid miles later)


The Plough and Stars

Plough and Stars


House Beer: Wooly-Foot Stout Beer

  • Menu Description: ‘Beer you can eat with a knife and fork’
  • Price: 1 silver 60 copper

House Wine: N/A

Comments:     …     zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Final Results

Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 18.48.19

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Flashforward: The Flash: Episode 3: Things You Can’t Outrun

This has nothing to do with the episode, this is just one of the pumpkins I carved this year for Halloween.

This has nothing to do with the episode, this is just one of the pumpkins I carved this year for Halloween.

I have to apologize for the fact that (besides once again being super behind) this post may be a bit more critical than the last two (not to mention very rant-heavy). After such a strong showing, I have to admit that this episode didn’t quite hit the mark set by the first two in my expectations.

I was hopeful when I saw the episode title because, as I’ve said way too many times now, The Flash really is a hard character to make physically vulnerable because it is so hard to come up with good ways to threaten someone who can punch you a thousand times before you can even hit the ground.

Unfortunately "punching the gorilla" isn't a double entendre".

Unfortunately “punching the gorilla” isn’t a double entendre”.

This is why writers have always made a point of making him emotionally and/or psychologically vulnerable in the comics. This is especially true for Wally, who spent the majority of his time as The Flash feeling as if he was always trying to outrun the legend of Barry Allen. Barry had cast such a long shadow that it might as well have been a black hole constantly holding Wally back, even as he neared the speed of light.


This kind of stuff happened all the freaking time.

This kind of stuff happened all the freaking time.

At one point it was thought that Barry had come back (SPOILERS: It turns out it was really Professor Zoom with amnesia who only thought he was Barry) and Wally, feeling that his mentor and only real father figure was rejecting him, temporarily quit being The Flash all together.


Seriously...just all the freaking time.

Seriously…just all the freaking time.

Wally eventually got over all of this, but then they just found other ways for him to maintain some level of doubt, or to worry about the safety of his loved ones. There is even a bit in issue #200 during Wally’s run where, after Zoom (Hunter Zolomon, not to be confused with Professor Zoom: The Reverse-Flash who was Eobard Thawne, and who many people on the internet think is who Dr. Wells is supposed to be for various reasons) is able to almost kill Wally’s wife Linda, Wally gets Hal Jordan (The Silver Age Green Lantern who, at this point in time, had become the new Spectre) to erase all knowledge of his secret identity from the world because he no longer feels like he is fast enough to protect her from everything (for those who haven’t read the comics, after Barry’s “death” Wally pretty much gave up any pretense of a secret identity). Wally does this out of fear and doubt and it ends up backfiring because it actually works. The catch is that no one remembers Wally is The Flash, including Wally.

The point is, when you can’t always come up with an adequate form of external conflict for a character, you are usually forced to come up with internal conflict, and Wally had that in spades. Barry on the other hand, for the most part, didn’t. Barry’s internal weakness was mostly that he was a little too idealistic and trusting. He was also, as I’ve mentioned, a super nice guy which usually translated to him holding back a little so as not to do serious damage to his enemies. In the New 52 reboot they gave him a little of Wally’s insecurity about his powers because, since DC had taken him pretty much back to the beginning, his powers were kind of new to him again, so he wasn’t always sure how to use them. Of course now he’s kind of up to speed (hilarious!) and is more confident with his abilities, so now they’ve introduced the idea that he is suffering major guilt over all the damage Central City sustained during the events of the Forever Evil storyline which is now causing him to feel like he has to be a hero all the time to fix everything that happened while he was missing in action. And now, in the most recent issues, we’ve also got a developing issue that involves the rebooted Wally West, which the internet is throwing a hissy about because they decided to make him a bi-racial (Caucasian father, African-American mother) kid instead of his classic red-headed version.

HOW DARE THEY INTRODUCE DIVERSITY INTO COMICS!!!! Holy crap...that costume is pretty awesome. But still...NERD RAGE!!!!

HOW DARE THEY INTRODUCE DIVERSITY INTO COMICS!!!! Holy crap…that costume is pretty awesome. But still…NERD RAGE!!!!

I might get into this in greater depth at some point if I can ever catch up with all of these reviews/recaps enough to have the time (maybe I’ll do it when we get a few weeks of reruns of the new series). But seriously guys…we live in a world where we have a bi-racial president and DC has obviously already decided to cast Wally aside in favor of Barry, so why is it such a big damn deal for us to finally have a black Flash (besides that one that isn’t “black” in that way)?

"Umm...are we supposed to call him 'African-American Flash'????"

“Umm…are we supposed to call him ‘African-American Flash’?”

I’d like to think that these people will all grow out of this strange need to rail against what is sometimes referred to as “race lift” or “affirmative action legacy”, but our society seems to want to really pull out all of the stops in being horrible, so I’m not holding my breath. Get over it please. There are so many better things to be offended by.

Like the fact that we get a black Wally and he automatically has to immediately get in trouble with the law, have an absentee father, and be super angry.

Like the fact that we get a black Wally and he automatically has to immediately get in trouble with the law, have an absentee father, and be super angry.

Anyway, that was an unreasonably huge digression. I apologize. Moving on to the episode at hand. So, due to the title, along with the strong showing of the first two episodes, I expected this one to bring it. What it brought was not so great. I swear, it was almost as if this episode was written by someone who had not only never read a single issue of the comics, but who hadn’t even bothered to watch the other two episodes of the same show. Let’s see what we’re dealing with here with the highlights and lowlights.


Barry’s Voice-Over.

I have to admit, I really love this. It seems like it might get old, but for me it is a great callback to the comics. Wally did it in every issue, keeping readers up on all his thoughts and reflections. This is actually also how both Barry and Wally provided the kind of exposition on their abilities or the current situation that is now being relegated to the S.T.A.R. Labs Pep Squad in the show. In the comics, even if he didn’t utter one word out-loud, the panels would be filled with him “talking”. I don’t know why, but it worked for the character. Sadly, the only time you get it on the show is in the very beginning of the episode (sometimes at the very end), but it makes me happy none-the-less.

Oh, Wally...you "shovelhead"

Oh, Wally…you “shovelhead”

Grant Gustin (As Usual)

Still digging him. Though I am quickly getting bored by the whole “Barry Loves Iris But Iris Doesn’t Pick Up On It” thing, Grant Gustin continues to make almost any interaction tolerable. He also gets to interact a lot with Caitlin in this episode as this is a very special episode focusing on the loss of her fiance during the Particle Accelerator accident.

Joe West

Much like Mr. Gustin, Jesse L. Martin has yet to stop being enjoyable in this show. This episode seems to cement his role as voice of fatherly wisdom for Barry. We kind of have this job shared between Harrison Wells and Joe overall (with a little handled by Barry’s actual father), but it is definitely Joe that is handing out the good ol’ heart-to-heart stuff in this episode. He is also the one who lays out our title’s concept that just because you are the Fastest Man Alive doesn’t mean you can help everyone, and that the hardest thing Barry will have to face isn’t the monsters with powers, but the feeling of uselessness when he can’t do anything or the guilt when he makes a mistake. This, honestly, is probably the best part of the episode. It ties the character in well with the attitude I mentioned above. Unfortunately I get the feeling that this concept will be reserved just for this episode. It does, however, give us some more really good insight into Joe’s character and the obvious guilt he is feeling over being wrong about Henry Allen.

Henry Allen

I like that they are making him a regular facet of the show. As I’ve said, as much crap as I give John Wesley Shipp for his time as The Flash, I like the guy. I’m really liking him in this. There is this nice dynamic where Barry really has two dads. Joe is the one who raised him for most of his life (as Barry was only 11 when Henry was put in jail and Joe raised him for the next 14 years), who saw him into adulthood, but Henry is still his biological father and that still means a lot to Barry. I’m just wondering what will happen if Barry ever does get Henry out of prison. That will be interesting to see. Also, I think John Wesley Shipp might be a cat owner. If you look at his left wrist during the last scene you’ll see a small cut. Now, in the reality of the show you can write it off as prison being a rough place, and there are a number of things that could cause a scratch like that, but as a cat owner myself, it looks exactly like what you get when you try to pet your cat and he flips out on you and sinks some claws. And this little observation kind of makes me like him more.

"Mr. Flash-kins: The Fastest Cat alive can really be a bastard sometimes."

“Mr. Flash-kins: The Fastest Cat alive can really be a bastard sometimes.”

Metahuman Prison

Once Barry and Joe decide the crime was committed by a metahuman, they realize something that really should have come up before. Naturally, Iron Heights, the local prison, is just a regular prison and so it isn’t up to the challenge of holding people who can control weather, multiply, or (SPOILERS) turn into gas (more on that in a second). Fortunately they only need to worry about the last one since the first two ended up dead (Spoilers? I mean, assuming you didn’t read my first two reviews and for some reason just skipped to the third one).

It is proposed that the Particle Accelerator itself could be turned into a makeshift prison capable of holding metahumans and we get a bit of drama face from Caitlin because dramatic tension tropes dictate that she will have to face the place where her fiancé died that she hasn’t visited since the accident, thereby facing her own fears/sorrow/guilt/etc. over his death.

Oh...I'm sorry. That's not drama face, that's "forgot to buy milk for your cereal and the store closes in 10 minutes" face.

Oh…I’m sorry. That’s not drama face, that’s “forgot to buy milk for my cereal and the store closes in 10 minutes” face.

In the comics Iron Heights is actually where they send all the metahuman villains. It has a specially designed ward to house them and ends up looking a lot like most depictions of Arkham Asylum, but I get that the show is trying to “Men-In-Black” this whole thing and keep the existence of metahumans a secret. This makes sense because, if the world at large knew about them that would draw even more wrath from the public over the particle accelerator. Then again, this thing did create an unknown number of super-villains including, possibly, a giant talking ape with psychic powers, so maybe people should be a little more mad at S.T.A.R. Labs. But we of course can’t have that because then Barry would be on his own to figure all this stuff out…oh…wait. Here’s hoping people start catching on.

"Oh no, what will I do without three scientists to explain everything to me? I guess I'll just have to use my own natural genius to...you know...keep doing what I'm doing."

“Oh no, what will I do without three scientists to explain everything to me? I guess I’ll just have to use my own natural genius to…you know…keep doing what I’m doing.”

All in all though, the concept of the metahuman prison is appealing to me. Probably because it harkens back to the same concept as done in Ghostbusters. A special containment unit housed in the middle of the city to hold dangerous beings (that has the potential to be destroyed and release them all. Don’t tell me you don’t see that one coming). I like me some Ghostbusters (despite the fact that, as I get older, I’m more inclined to agree with the EPA agent that tries to stop them from being total irresponsible @$$hats, I still think the movie is funny).

Seriously, look at this unreasonable dick. What gives him the right to be concerned about the "possibility of dangerous and possibly hazardous waste chemicals" right in the middle of New York City.

Seriously, look at this unreasonable dick. What gives him the right to be concerned about the “possibility of dangerous and possibly hazardous waste chemicals” right in the middle of New York City. We should totally just trust that the “parapsychologist” knows what he’s doing.

Granted there is one kind of annoying thing about the whole idea. Dr. Wells points out he’ll have to design each “cell” to counteract metahuman abilities. As we have seen (and probably will continue to see) metahumans can possess a wide variety of powers. While a certain containment structure will probably hold most of them, obviously it won’t hold them all. This means that every time they run into a new one, somehow this team of THREE PEOPLE will have to figure out what kind of containment is needed and construct it in the time it takes Flash to stop the BGotW. That seems more than a little ambitious.

Character Development: Cisco Ramon

I still really don’t like this guy. His clothes are stupid. His hair is stupid. And he really just needs to stop with the…well…everything. But in this episode we get some really really great and subtle input into his character. I’ll just let you know now that this gets really spoilery. We find out that on the night of the accident, Cisco was the one to go down to the particle accelerator with Ronnie (Caitlin’s fiancé) to try to fix things. Ronnie tells Cisco to wait while he goes and…does something to fix the problem. As the lead structural engineer, Ronnie helped build the accelerator so obviously he is the best suited for the job. However, since this whole thing is about to explode, he tells Cisco that if he isn’t back in two minutes, that Cisco needs to initiate lockdown, otherwise everyone in the facility could be killed. Cisco sets his watch and Ronnie goes of to be the hero of the day. Needless to say he doesn’t make the 2 minute cut off. The point is, we get to see how much this affected Cisco since he pretty much guaranteed that Ronnie wouldn’t make it out.

Of course since we get this look while he's talking to Caitlin...maybe this was all part of his plan.

Of course since we get this look from him while he’s talking to Caitlin…maybe this was all part of his plan to get out of the marriage.

We actually, for the first time, get to see a normal Cisco who I don’t want to punch in the face. Maybe that is why he acts the way he does. Maybe after that point he started putting up this “everything is awesome” front to cover the guilt he feels for closing the door on Caitlin’s fiancé.

Of course this is his idea of "formal-wear", so I'm not giving him too much credit.

Of course this is his idea of “formal wear”, so I’m not giving him too much credit.


This was kind of cool. Right before the final fight scene Joe is at Iron Heights talking with Henry Allen when Mist attacks, though he unfortunately doesn’t utilize a series of puzzles to do this. Barry shows up and uses the antidote Caitlin made for him to counteract Mist’s poison on Joe. Henry is still standing there on the other side of the visiting room glass and Barry looks up at him. Barry realizes that his own dad might actually be able to recognize him even with a mask so he vibrates his face to blur it.

This is not only smart, but is also another callback to the comics. The Golden Age Flash (Jay Garrick) didn’t wear a mask. He eventually stopped worrying about a secret identity altogether, but, when he first started, he kept his identity secret by blurring his face in the same way. Whenever he slowed down enough to talk to people, all they saw was a blurry man…which would have probably been pretty creepy.

Yeeeaaah. Pretty creepy.

Yeeeaaah. Pretty creepy.


Pointless Bookend Superheroics

I get it, it is a superhero show and people want to see Flash in action as much as possible, but what is the point of a random event where Barry has to quickly run off to stop a “Bad Man with a gun in a getaway car” trying to evade the cops while Iris is distracted talking with Eddie Thawne on the phone? It literally serves no purpose other than to set up a little bit about how Barry isn’t looking for accolades, but is finding it hard to keep all the things he can do secret from Iris. Then you get the one on the other end of the episode where a man with a knife is trying to steal a woman’s purse. This one is even more pointless because Barry doesn’t even stop they guy. All he does is run between them and give the woman the thief’s knife and then runs off. Now, this criminal isn’t exactly a huge guy, but he is still bigger than the really scared woman who stays really scared even when she realizes she has a knife which she holds in a way that doesn’t really make it an effective weapon. Now, Batman has taught us that criminals are a “cowardly lot”, but really, what are the chances that this guy, despite being a little thrown off by the change in the situation, is just going to run off after putting that much effort into taking the purse in the first place. At the very least you’d think he’d want his knife back. It would take very little effort to get it back from her. But no, he just takes off, leaving the purse and the knife (which probably still has his prints on it and could be turned over to the cops). This just kind of makes Barry seem like a crappy superhero. Seriously? You couldn’t knock him out, or tie him up, or maybe even take him to the police station? Seems pretty irresponsible, Barry.

"You're totally fine! You can handle this! I've got a thing to get to. You got this!"

“You’re totally fine! You can handle this! I’ve got a thing to get to. You got this!”

The BGotW

Smallville Kryptonite Syndrome strikes again. This time we get The Mist (who, to add to the stupidity of his villain name, has the secret identity of Kyle Nimbus. Because get it? Nimbus? Like a cloud? Yeah) who (SPOILERS) is a hit-man who was being executed in the gas chamber when our magical Particle Accelerator blew which of course gives him the ability to turn into sentient poison gas so that he can fulfill the trope of killing all the people responsible for sending him to said gas chamber. So we are still going with the “bad guys with powers in some way associated with what they were doing when they were hit with the Particle Accelerator Dark Energy blast” thing which already isn’t holding up too well. I’m assuming in the near future we’ll be running into a criminal who can turn into a giant cat because he’s a Furry and was wearing his cat-suit that night. Or a villain who is a living pizza because he was cooking a frozen personal pizza in the microwave when the blast hit him.

Though if there is the chance that we could see this in a Flash episode I'm kind of okay with that one.

Though if there is the chance that we could see this in a Flash episode I’m kind of okay with that one.

This is also another example of the writers using a villain that ISN’T one of Flash’s Rogues. He’s a Starman villain. So I guess they want to run through as many obscure villains from other heroes as they can so they can use the ones that Flash SHOULD be fighting sparingly, which is probably good considering that they just straight-up killed one of his main villains in the very first episode.

I do have to say though that, despite thinking the concept for the villain was kind of stupid, the actor, Anthony Carrigan, was actually really good. He has a really interesting voice and manner that just makes for a really creepy bad guy. Of course this explains why he is slated to play Victor Zsasz (one of the creepiest Batman villains ever) in an upcoming episode of Gotham. I think he’ll pull it off.

Just so much creepy in one place.

If that doesn’t work maybe he can play a young Uncle Fester in a super gritty Addams Family reboot.


Here we get the something that really bugged me about this episode, though, unlike the other stuff that bugged me, there really isn’t a lot of reason for this to bug me so much. This episode features several flashbacks to the night of the accident. A good chunk of the episode, in fact, is devoted to these flashbacks that basically show us all the details of what went down that night. Why does it bother me? Mostly because I’ve always thought flashbacks were a kind of clunky way of just handing exposition to the audience. If your audience is smart enough, they can get a more subtle relaying of information on past events without you actually just showing the events. Heavy use of flashbacks tells me the writer doesn’t trust the audience’s intelligence. Granted, sometimes a flashback is the best way to handle something, but use like one or two, not a good third of the runtime. This is what always kind of bugged me about Arrow as well since it seems like every single episode of that show has at least one flashback, if not a few. Characters can have discussions to convey that kind of stuff. Of course it does let us see Caitlin’s fiancé (which will be important later), so I guess there is very little way to avoid it in this case.

Character Development: Dr. Caitlin Snow

Jeez is she annoying. I really want to like her, I really do. She is supposed to be an example of a capable and intelligent female and that is something I can get behind, but they really make her hard to like. I’m actually starting to get a little self-conscious about how much I’m hating on her because I really don’t want to come across as yet another in a recent and unfortunately long line of misogynistic turd-burglers haunting the internet. I’m not, the writers just aren’t giving me a lot to work with.

Confused by a plot development or smelling a fart? You decide!

Confused by a plot development or smelling a fart? You decide!

I honestly can’t even tell what bugs me so much. The writing for her isn’t very good (she’s supposed to be a strong and capable scientist, but she spends most of her time fretting and saying things like “it’s not safe!” And I get it, that is supposed to be due to her fiancé dying in the accident, but it gets a little old when it happens every episode, and frankly it would only make sense if she had feelings for Barry, which I guess could be true, but if it is then she is definitely not conveying it right). The actress herself is also just kind of annoying. She’s grating and does a lot of weird stuff with her face while trying to convey emotion. Maybe it is also the fact that, while she does have input whenever the team is trying to figure something out, she seems to get relegated to throwing out the really kind of stupid stuff. She doesn’t really seem to actually figure anything out herself, that seems to be handled by the two guys on the team. In this episode all we get from her is an antidote she manages to whip up in like two minutes (and which she pronounces by REALLY stressing the ANTI in the word) and then the vague hypothesis that maybe Barry can wear Mist down if he keeps him in his gaseous form long enough which Dr. Wells confirms, also in a kind of half-assed way. It really seems like these guys are just guessing most of the time. Maybe I’m reading too much into this. Maybe it is just me, but I really kind of want her to fulfill her comic book destiny (more on that later) sooner rather than later. At least that might make her interesting.

She is just...so really emoting all up in here you guys.

She is just…so really emoting all up in here you guys.

The Fight Scenes

It seems like this is something the writers have the most trouble with. You want engaging fight scenes that are visually cool, and you need them to last for more than two seconds, but normally this requires Barry to do stupid stuff like throw non-superspeed punches and, in general, not use his superspeed when he really should. I was initially confused by this during his first encounter with Mist because he literally just stands there, all normal speed, and lets Mist hit him. On second viewing though, I think he did this on purpose so that Mist would try to enter his lungs, so he could get a sample back to the lab. Of course how he not only knew he could run all the way from the mall to the lab with a lungful of poisonous gas, but how he actually managed it, is a mystery that is a whole different issue. When he gets back to the lab he is saying he can’t breathe. As a runner I can tell you it is kind of hard to run when you can’t breathe. It usually stops you pretty quick. Apparently Barry doesn’t need to breath when he runs. They give us some off-the-cuff remark about his rapid healing managing to keep him alive, but you still need to breath in order to move. Barry isn’t the Highlander for crying-out-loud.

And if he is, I really don't want to know where he keeps his sword.

And if he is, I really don’t want to know where he keeps his sword.

And then for the final fight scene we get the amazing idea…for Barry to just keep running away from Mist until he gets tired. Seriously? Did we forget that Barry can run around in a circle really fast and create tornadoes? That is totally how he’d have done it in the comics. He’d have waited for Mist to…uh…mist, and then he would have just run around him, basically forming a cage of wind which would hold him in place until he had to reconstitute himself, then he would have punched him when he was too tired to go gaseous again. Instead we get dramatic music while Barry runs a little down the road, stops, breaths heavy, runs a little further, and then repeats the whole process again and again until Mist finally runs out of steam (hahaha!), reconstitutes himself, and then Barry punches him. I don’t know, maybe they felt that it was too soon for another tornado since that just happened in the first episode, but seriously, Barry does it a lot in the comics, and it really would have been the most effective thing here…and a lot more dramatic. I guess it was pretty dramatic when he, I don’t know, kinda dove all hard into the dirt, maybe. But yeah…not really the best fight scene ever.

Missing Elements That Make Me Wonder If The Writer Has Seen The Show Before: Barry’s CSI Vision

The hell? We get our usual crime scene, but at no time does Barry use his magical CSI Vision to find clues. He still finds clues, but just, you know, the normal way. I really can’t tell if this means they are abandoning the concept or that they just forgot to include it. I honestly can’t tell which is worse. If they abandoned it that means they decided it didn’t serve a purpose and so it makes its use in the first two episodes even more pointless. If they just forgot to include it, it means sloppy writing. Of course considering how weak the rest of the episode is, I’m leaning toward the latter explanation.

Easter Eggs:

This week actually featured a lot of subtle ones rather than any big obvious ones. From what I’ve read in other write-ups, I missed a lot of these smaller ones in the first two episodes. I’m not going to bother to go back and look for them again, but it did make me pay a lot closer attention to this one. So what do we have:

Blue Devil and Rita Farr

When Barry and Iris leave the theater where they were watching some unnamed zombie movie, we see that there are two movies listed on the marquee: Blue Devil II – Hell to Pay and The Rita Farr Story. While the Blue Devil movie might seem like it is some kind of Hellboy reference, it is actually a reference to another DC superhero. Without going too far into it, Blue Devil was a special effects artist and stuntman that created a special suit to play a character called the Blue Devil and ends up having the suit become a part of his body when he fights a demon. The same thing goes for Rita Farr, who is actually a member of the Doom Patrol as the superhero Elasti-Girl. Rita was an Olympic swimmer who became an actress and was widely considered to be extremely attractive. When she gets exposed to unusual volcanic gas while on a movie-shoot she gains the ability to shrink and grow. Despite still being beautiful, she considers herself a hideous freak and becomes a recluse. Considering the fact that apparently metahumans aren’t widely known about in this world, I’m guessing that part isn’t in The Rita Farr Story.

So are the zombies in the Blue Devil movie...or is the Rita Farr biopic really a lot more interesting than it sounds?

So are the zombies in the Blue Devil movie…or is the Rita Farr biopic really a lot more interesting than it sounds?

Waid Blvd.

This one may be me reading too much into stuff, but at the beginning of the episode, the criminal Flash takes down is traveling down Waid Blvd, which I took to be a reference to popular Flash writer Mark Waid. He is responsible for some of the best Flash stories during the 90s. It could just be a coincidence, but it would make sense for it to be a shout-out.

It’s not like I want a museum built in my name.”

This one made me actually laugh out loud when I watched the episode. As anyone who reads The Flash comics knows, long ago Central City decided to build a museum dedicated to The Flash called, simply enough, The Flash Museum. For decades The Flash Museum has been a fixture in the DC Universe and is occasionally destroyed, only to be rebuilt.

Jury only took 52 minutes…”

Apparently each episode likes to sneak in a reference to the number 52, which of course is a reference to the New 52 reboot of the DC Universe in the comics.

I feel like I’ve waited for this day for centuries.”

Dr. Wells says this when he initiates the particle accelerator in one of the many flashbacks in this episode. This serves as kind of an inside joke since it is obvious that he is involved in some way with time travel and seems to be from the future himself. By the end of the episode (SPOILERS) it also becomes obvious that he either knew the accident would create The Flash or even caused the accident on purpose to give Barry his powers as he is seen watching video footage of Barry’s lab accident while the particle accelerator accident is happening and says “See you soon, Barry”. We even get this weird look from Ronnie right before the particle accelerator is started up that makes it seem like either he knew something would go wrong, or that he at least suspected that something wasn’t right. Then there is the fact that most of the internet believes Dr. Wells is really Eobard Thawne and will eventually become the Reverse-Flash which would mean he is, in fact, from several centuries in the future.

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 07.07.03

Like fire and ice.”

Caitlin says this when describing her relationship with Ronnie. If you’ve paid any attention to discussions on the internet (which you really shouldn’t), you should know by now that Caitlin Snow is really the secret identity of the current version of the villain Killer Frost who is another Firestorm villain. So who is Ronnie Raymond? Well, Firestorm himself. Actually Firestorm is an amalgam entity created from Ronnie Raymond and the physicist Martin Stein who are fused into one being during a nuclear accident. In the comics the accident not only fuses the two men together, but gives them/him the ability to rearrange the atomic and subatomic structure of inorganic matter, rearranging subatomic particles to create objects of different atomic characteristics of equal mass. This kind of makes things confusing because, while it is obvious that we will see Firestorm at some point since he was in the heart of the “power-granting” machine, what about Martin Stein? Not only was Ronnie alone in the particle accelerator ring, but he is already established as an engineer. The point of the Firestorm in the comics was the Ronnie was a high school teenager, and it was Stein’s understanding of physics that allowed him to understand and use his powers effectively. So I guess maybe they’re just going to get rid of that aspect. I suppose there was really no way around it since we couldn’t have Dr. Wells stand in for Dr. Stein since we needed him as a physical person and it would have been hard to come up with a reason for there to be another brilliant scientist at the site that would have needed to go down into the accelerator ring with Ronnie. Only actually…it wouldn’t. On a project like this you’d actually EXPECT there to be more than one main scientist. In fact you’d expect a whole team of scientists working on this kind of thing. In fact, the closest thing we have in the real world, the Large Hadron Collider was built in collaboration with over 10,000 scientists and engineers from over 100 countries, as well as hundreds of universities and laboratories. Granted, the one in Central City is smaller, but you’d still expect more than three main scientists and an engineer to be on this team. Why not add a Dr. Martin Stein who needed to help Ronnie stop the accident. This is just a really unnecessary oversight.


While we are on the subject of Firestorm, apparently the door to the accelerator ring is itself a reference to Firestorms symbol, so it looks like Firestorm is definitely going to happen. The question now is just whether or not he eventually gets his own show, or is just a bit part on this one.


Overall, not the best episode. There were a lot of cool things, but honestly, even the cool parts were kind of weak, and the weak parts were REALLY weak. I am however really excited to see next week’s episode as it looks like we are finally going to get the appearance of the main Flash Rogue: Captain Cold. Here’s hoping they manage to bring things back to the upward trend they had with the first two episodes.

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Flashforward: The Flash: Episode 2: The Fastest Man Alive

Note: I have decided to just review the episodes of the new Flash series rather than do full recaps like I’m doing for the 90s Flash episodes. Hopefully that will make them a little more readable (and might allow me to get them out in a more timely manner as I realize this is almost a week late at this point).


Here we have the second episode of CW’s The Flash and I’m really liking this show. I still have some issues with it, which I will address briefly in a moment, but they really stepped up their game with the second episode. Actually, some of the things I had an issue with in the first episode weren’t as much of a problem in this one. So let’s compare some of the things I didn’t think worked in the pilot that kind of got better in the second.

Probably the biggest one is my opinion of the S.T.A.R. Labs trio. I’m not going to pretend that I now think they are necessary characters. I still don’t. I still think they could be done without completely and everything would still be fine. I’m also not completely over my issues with some of the acting.

I'm looking at you Cisco.

I’m looking at you Cisco.

But it was definitely better in this one than in the pilot. Dr. Wells wasn’t quite as annoying in this episode and, in fact, I spent a lot of the time actually enjoying when he was on screen. I still think the show would survive without him, but I am definitely hooked on the mystery that is Dr. Wells. I also found myself warming up a little to Dr. Snow (I amuse myself), but honestly she still got to me a little. What really surprised me though was that I didn’t want to punch Cisco as much in this episode as I did in the first one. Sure, he’s still an obnoxious character, but I actually found myself amused on a couple occasions, especially in the beginning of the episode when he was helping Barry in secret. So, still not a fan of the S.T.A.R. Lab scientists, but I’m getting more and more onboard.

Admittedly it is a very slow process.

Maybe one day I’ll fully embrace Dr. Faux-Cripple Slow-Talker, Bong “Julio-Stand-In” Ramon, and Madam Pinched-Face.

So let’s look at Iris next. I like that they introduced the idea that she is working towards becoming a journalist. As I brought up in my initial review of the original Flash series, Iris West has always been a reporter and I was kind of annoyed (only mildly) that they had her just working in a coffee shop. However, I can kind of see how they are trying to approach this, so I can accept that she might not be a reporter/journalist now, but that she is working toward it (after all, if she’s still just a college-age woman it wouldn’t make as much sense for her to already be a reporter anyway). I still don’t really think she is doing much for the show yet. She still has kind of just been relegated to “romantic interest/source of emotional conflict” for Barry and it kind of seems like the writers just aren’t sure what to do with her beyond that. I really do hope they kind of flesh her out a little, but it may take a while.

I just figured I'd put this picture back up for no particular reason.

I just figured I’d put this picture back up for no particular reason.

I’m really liking Joe West. It is amazing to see how well Jesse L. Martin conveys the character’s love for Barry, the feeling that he cares for Barry like he would if Barry were his natural son. I wasn’t too sure about the idea of him knowing Barry’s secret from the beginning, but it does seem to add a good dynamic to the show. Still, maybe they could have had him find out after a few episodes instead of in the pilot, but this just goes back to my opinion that they are moving forward too quickly instead of pacing themselves and setting things up for a Whedon-style long-game.

Barry’s magical CSI vision? I still don’t get it. It is at least comforting to see that they have some kind of place for it instead of it being a one-off thing for the pilot, but I just don’t see why they are using it at all, or why they are only using it when Barry is analyzing a crime scene. Why does he never use it as The Flash? Much like in the first episode, where it would have worked perfectly when Barry was trying to figure out the whole tornado issue, it would have worked again in this episode when dealing with the current Bad Guy of the Week. For those who watched the episode you hopefully know what I mean. As interesting an effect as it is, I just don’t see the point of employing it if they aren’t going to use it to its fullest.

As I said in my review of the first episode, Gustin kind of drew me in right away. I think he did even more of an amazing job in this episode and it makes me even more annoyed that DC has already decided to not use him as The Flash in the movie they’ve announced for 2018. The fact that I don’t really much care for the look of the kid they did pick doesn’t help any. But yeah, Gustin is definitely bringing his A-game for this character and I’m really enjoying him in the role. Despite my original reservations, I think they made a good casting choice with Grant Gustin.

So what is still not working (or, as is actually the case, what did they introduce that I’m not too fond of)? Let me go in ascending order of how much it annoys me. The first one is actually the first and the second one since they go kind of hand-in-hand.

As I will be bringing up in part two of my recap of the original series pilot, the biggest problem with The Flash is that he is a really hard character to challenge. It is hard to come up with something believable that really poses a threat to him because, when a character can move and think faster than anyone, he really becomes near unstoppable. It looks like they may be coming up with some good ideas, and honestly the obstacle he ultimately faced in this episode was pretty good, but what I’m complaining about is his case of the dizzies in the early part of the episode. Granted, it is better than what they used to do in the cartoon where they just had him constantly tripping and running into walls, but really? That’s what you come up with to keep him from chasing down the bad guys?

Flash and Keanu Reeves can beat just about anyone.

Flash and Keanu Reeves can beat just about anyone.

So this is where it leads into thing two. For this let me nerd a little and delve back into the comics. Barry Allen never had to worry about not eating enough. Barry draws his power from an extra-dimensional energy field called the Speed Force, and, as such, he really doesn’t need any extra food. This dynamic was actually something they introduced for Wally West in a way to kind of scale back his powers. As I’ve said before, Wally took over as The Flash when Barry died during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. During his first few years his powers started to not work too well, and one of the problems he faced was a hyperactive metabolism that caused him to need to eat a lot of food in order to keep going. Now, I go into this in more depth in my recap, but this was never something Barry dealt with and honestly as a weakness it never made sense anyway (and it honestly still doesn’t because, by the end of the episode, they’ve already figured it out with Cisco’s High Calorie Bars TM. So the question is: why introduce it in the first place? If it isn’t a problem that relates to Barry, and, in fact, relates to a completely different Flash, and if it is only going to be a minor issue that is resolved by the end of the episode…why even bother?

And then there is the bigger issue I had. I noticed it in the first episode but forgot to bring it up last time. Let’s call it the Smallville Kryptonite Syndrome. Allow me to unpack that a little. If you’ve ever seen the long-running show Smallville (which you probably have if you’re watching either Arrow or The Flash) you’ll know that the way they explain the presence of so many people with powers for Clark to fight is by suggesting that all the Kryptonite that followed his spaceship from Krypton has the ability to cause superpowers to develop in humans. Literally every week we’d get a new bad guy that somehow had powers that were, in one way or another, derived from Kryptonite. Now, I stopped watching the show after about season four, so I guess it is possible they started to move away from this little plot device, but with only a few minor exceptions during those first four seasons, every single time you had someone with powers, the first, last, and only answer to why was: Kryptonite (or Green Meteor Rock as they called it in the beginning). I’m sorry, this is just lazy writing. How can this one thing (of which there should be a limited amount on Earth anyway) literally be the cause of all the problems in Smallville? Why can’t there just be metahumans? That’s how it is in the comics. Why can’t it be that there are just some people born different? Instead you end up with a monster of the week that is caused by your multipurpose monster making substance.

And lo-and-behold, they’ve done it again with The Flash. In this case, of course, instead of Kryptonite, you have Particle Accelerator Dark Energy. I just really have to wonder how long they are going to keep going with this because, first, as I said – lazy writing. Second, it implies that all these people only come from Central City, and they all just happened to be living there at the time of the accident (and it seems like someone might have noticed that sooner than nine-plus months later). As such, it limits your bad guys greatly. Once again…why can’t people just be metahumans, or have developed/stolen high-tech equipment? For The Flash you’ve got other obvious options like Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Mirror Master, and Trickster. Every single one of them is a normal human who just happens to have some piece of equipment that they use to commit crimes. But those are literally four of Flash’s biggest and longest standing villains (or Rogues). In fact, the only Rogues in recent Flash history that are metahumans are Reverse Flash (which obviously will be coming up soon), Girder, Weather Wizard (who is already taken care of), and Gorilla Grodd (which we’ve already gotten a hint about in the first episode). Yes, you can always just make new characters (or use really obscure ones like Multiplex, which is still a stupid name), but if you employ this limitation of them all having to be related to the Particle Accelerator accident, you are keeping your options very narrow. I just don’t see the point.

This is kind of cool though.

This was kind of cool though.

(Kinda) Cool Easter Egg of the Week: Cosmic Treadmill.

Like most shows of this type, the writers/producers obviously feel like they are doing super-fans a favor by including small little visual or spoken references to stuff from the comics, commonly referred to “Easter Eggs”. I guess they are hoping some comic book nerd watching it and picking it apart (Why, hello there!) will be won over because they throw out a little wink and nod reference to something only a REAL fan of The Flash would know. We saw it in the first episode when we get a pan through the destroyed S.T.A.R. Labs Particle Accelerator facility and catch a glimpse of a cage that has been broken open with a sign that just reads Grodd.

It's subtle.

It’s subtle.

Of course people who actually read the comics, or know anything about The Flash beyond “it’s a spin-off of Arrow”, know that Gorilla Grodd is a member of a hyper-intelligent race of gorillas who live in a hidden, Atlantis-type city deep in the African Congo and who are, for the most part, friends with Barry Allen…with the exception of the Black Sheep of the family, Grodd, who is constantly trying to kill the leader of the gorillas (or Super-Simians), Solovar (Solovar was replaced by Nnamdi after he was murdered during Wally’s time as The Flash, but with the New 52 reboot, Solovar was brought back). Grodd wants to take over as King of Gorilla City. In the New 52 version of The Flash, he also wants to steal the Speed Force from Flash and claim it as his own.

So what does this mean for The Flash series? Was this just an inside joke or do they actually plan to show us a Grodd at some point? Well, as discussed above, since apparently the only metahumans in existence in this universe are created by the Particle Accelerator accident, and with the visual clue of the broken cage, if Grodd does show up we can assume he won’t be a member of a hyper-intelligent race of gorillas, but merely a lab accident with a grudge. Which would be annoying.

In episode two we get something that is actually subtle and might not even be an Easter Egg. I admit, this might just be me reading too much into something (but I’m not the only one on the internet that is saying it). This something being the Cosmic Treadmill. In the comics, Flash developed a special treadmill capable of not only handling his super-speeds, but which he could actually use to travel in time. The treadmill helped him reach a speed and internal vibration rate that allowed him to go forward or backward in time depending on the treadmill setting. I believe he was also occasionally able to use it to travel between dimensions. Yes, it is a pretty stupid plot device, but hey, Flash came out in the 50s so stupid sci-fi plot devices were kind of required by comic book law. They never say the treadmill seen in the episode is in fact the prototype of the Cosmic Treadmill…but I’ll just leave these pictures here and let you decide for yourself.

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 15.41.24


Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 15.42.04


Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 15.42.59


What Easter Eggs will we see in the next episode? In the end it doesn’t really matter. It might be relevant to the story or it might not. Ultimately it is just an attempt to keep the rabid nerds at bay a little without really giving them exactly what they want. Either way, I look forward to seeing the next episode. At this point I think they’d have to stray a lot from the source material for me to give up on the show. I just wish I could be as enthusiastic about the upcoming Flash movie.

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Flashback: 90s Flash Recap: Episode 1 – The Pilot (Part I)

Note: Because the total runtime of this episode is right around 94 minutes and is chock-full of exposition since it is a pilot episode, I ended up with a seriously long recap here. Rather than expose you to it all at once, I’m going to break it up into two parts to spread the pain around.


In my last post I gave you a broad overview of the iconic(?) Flash television series from 1990. Now stuff is about to get real. I’ve decided, because I’m full of bad ideas, to do a full recap of the pilot episode that introduced us, and the world at large, to John Wesley Shipp as Barry(ish) Allen: the Scarlet Speedster, the Sultan of Speed, the Crimson Comet, the Fastest Man Alive…The Flash. Hold on to your butts ladies and gentlemen.


The pilot wastes no time and immediately assaults us with yellow cartoon lightning bolts shooting in from all corners of the screen. They finally calm the hell down and form the famous Flash emblem. In later episodes, we’ll recognize this as the precursor to the opening theme, but for now, since this is a pilot episode, all it leads us to in the title screen.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 16.40.22

After the title screen fades we get a nice establishing shot of our fair Central City at night. As I stated in the last post, this show was heavily influenced by the 1989 Batman movie. As such Central City looks just as dark, gritty, and gothic and Gotham, which is in stark contrast to its portrayal not only in the comics, but even in the modern Flash series, as a nice, bright, bustling, modern city. There have even been jokes in the comic regarding how Gotham is almost perpetually dark compared to other cities.

Meanwhile in bustling Gotha- uh Central City!

Meanwhile in bustling Gotha- uh Central City!

Now that we know where we are and are treated to a few nice shots of steam coming out of vents and neon lit streets, we get a very pleasant shot of a kid screaming bloody murder at the camera and then taking off while being pursued by kids on bikes who are encouraging each other to “get him”. The menace of the kid in front is slightly undercut by the fact that he is wearing a very purple 90s jacket.

Sadly this is not, in fact, John Wesley Shipp.

Sadly this is not, in fact, John Wesley Shipp.

The tension of whatever the hell this is supposed to be is quickly undercut when a woman dressed as an urban Chicago mother circa 1930 comes running down the steps to yell at the children for being out in the street so late.

"You boys stop your bootlegging and speakeasying and get in here right now!"

“You boys stop your bootlegging and speakeasying and get in here right now!”

After Eliot Ness’s wife shoos the children inside, she gives a nervous look around, letting us know that Central City is indeed a dangerous place after dark. If that was too subtle, however, fear not. Our helpful extras really hammer it home by moving hastily off the streets just before a gang of ne’er-do-wells on motorcycles come screaming around the corner, alarming a bus-driver who happens to be fixing his bus on the side of the road, at what appears to be 8 or 9 o’clock at night.

Our group of rapscallions drive past the bus and it decides to blow itself up for no apparent reason. I’d attribute this to the motorcycle gang, but literally none of them do anything that could even be construed as being responsible for the explosion. As this is a superhero show, maybe one of them possesses pyro-kinetic powers that are just never referenced at any point.

At any rate, the explosion doesn’t go unnoticed and a couple of temporally displaced extras hurriedly get out of their car and attempt to get into their house. The gang makes their way around yet another corner and this time we see that they are tossing what appear to be green glow balls at stuff. This apparently isn’t an attempt to start an impromptu rave as we see that the glow balls are highly explosive (so of course they are the best thing to carry on motorcycles).

It is dangerous to be this fashion-forward.

It is dangerous to be this fashion-forward.

The modern 90s man, who fashionably still wears fedoras, huddles with his wife and baby as our roughnecks toss a glow ball at their hyper-modern car, blowing it up, but fortunately not causing any debris to hit the bystanders. He laments that “someone’s got to do something about this” which really brings it home that crime is out of control in Central City in case you still had doubts. Of course if it weren’t apparently a local ordinance that everyone drive vehicles and wear clothes several decades out of date, maybe the populous wouldn’t be so bitter. So, figure that one out City Hall!

"Dammit! That was a brand-new car that I just bought 18 years ago!"

“Dammit! That was a brand-new car that I just bought 18 years ago!”

Having blown up a grand total of one bus and two cars, we see our gang drive past a gate guard post with an already dead gate guard. The camera pans up and we see that they have just left the Central City Armory. I’m going to assume this is all happening consecutively, but why did they feel the need to sow some random destruction before hitting up the city armory? It seems like they’d try and be a little more low-key before the major felony stuff. And if they didn’t get the glow ball bombs from the armory, what did they take? For a brief moment it looks like one of the several motorcycles is towing a small trailer with a bunch of rifles in it, but in the next shot the trailer seems to have disappeared. Wherever the guns went they definitely don’t use them against the poor single cop car chasing after them, choosing instead a double dose of more glow balls.

Whatever the point of all that is will have remain a mystery for now as we get a dissolve into our next scene. We focus in on a chocolate birthday cake meant to look like a police badge (apparently the CCPD uses a nice rich fecal brown color for their badges) while people sing Happy Birthday in the background.



We see that the Allen family is sitting around preparing the celebrate their eldest son’s birthday. Said eldest son is Tim Thomerson who is playing the completely-made-up-for-this-show-but-obviously-referencing-Jay-Garrick-character-named-Jay-Allen (from here on out I’ll refer to him as just Jay because the other name is too long). Nora Allen puts the cake in front of her son and before Jay can blow out the candles, Papa Allen points out that he didn’t make a wish yet. Jay gets a look on his face that is a cross between a yawn and a desperate attempt to drop a load before finally blowing out the candles which excites his father in the same way that doing the disconnecting thumb trick excites three month olds.

Of course considering that his eldest son just made a boom-boom in his pants, maybe this is just a family of elderly-looking toddlers.

Of course considering that his eldest son just made a boom-boom in his pants, maybe this is just a family of elderly-looking toddlers.

Jay’s wife Matronly…or something…asks her husband what he wished for and Jay claps his brother Barry on the shoulder and says he just wishes he had some of Barry’s brains. Barry happens to be playing cutesy with his very young girlfriend Iris, but takes a moment to tell Jay he isn’t doing too bad himself. This prompts Henry Allen to exposit that Jay is 42 and heading up the CCPD’s Motorcycle Division and managed to take down “that Conway” and his highjacking crew. For some reason the camera takes a moment to show us Jay’s son smooshing his piece of cake with his hand for no apparent reason, but we don’t have time to wonder what the hell is up with this because Jay quickly throws in that it was actually Barry and his boys in the Crime Lab that put them onto bad ol’ Conway. Obviously Jay is just throwing his brother a bone, but I can’t really blame him when it becomes obvious that we are being set up for a good old fashion example of the father that is super impressed with one son while not really thinking too much of his other son trope (I’m not very good at coming up with short names for things).

Apparently fecophilia is hereditary.

Apparently fecophilia is hereditary.

Right on cue Henry quickly proclaims that Lab Boys are all fine and good, but “real cops” work the streets, “facing the scum of the Earth with nothing to back you up”. And we get the feeling that this is something he says a lot because Jay and Barry follow this up by saying in unison “…but a gun, a badge, and a prayer”.

Despite the fact that Henry just obviously insulted his younger son by saying he isn’t a real cop, Barry takes some amusement in this. Jay, for his part, brushes his father off. Nora brings in some coffee and Iris shows us she is one of those “modern” 90s ladies by saying she just needs some hot water for her Korean Ginseng tea bag. Barry wonders aloud if this newfangled ginseng she is talking about isn’t in fact that stuff that is also an aphrodisiac. Iris does this weird big nod thing and Barry tells his mom he’ll go ahead and skip the coffee and I start feeling very uncomfortable because seriously…your freaking mom is in the room, Barry! Not to mention your nephew who can’t be more than ten! Jay decides to double down on the gross by asking his mother if she can get him one of those “ginseng things” for him and his wife. This perturbs “Eve” because of course it does, but Jay complains that it is his birthday so of course it is perfectly natural to talk about boning your significant other in front of your elderly parents.

Nora is just relieved that ED medication hasn't been invented yet.

Nora is just relieved that ED medication hasn’t been invented yet.

Henry isn’t going to let a little inappropriate conversation derail his desire to talk shop and wonders what the CCPD is going to do about those “biker punks”. Little Sean Allen chimes in, letting us know they are called the Dark Riders, because what else would you call your biker gang, and Eve is upset that Sean happens to know the name of a biker gang that has been exploding cars and buses left and right. Iris lets us know that its been all over the news and Eve frets while wiping Sean’s hand that is still covered in cake and mentions that it makes her “skin crawl”. Henry chimes in again wondering what “we” are doing about it (because you see, he can’t get over being retired, get it?)

Jay mentions that the cops are baffled and can’t pin them down. Henry begins a good ol’ “back in my day” speech and only Barry seems to have the presence of mind to remember that there is a minor in the room and tells Sean to go take Barry’s Golden Retriever Earl into the kitchen to get him a biscuit before his grandfather can continue to scar him with some story of how he would be handling these young whippersnappers.

Sean tells his uncle that he will only do it if Barry “reads his fingerprints” and we realize that the reason Sean smashed his piece of cake earlier was so he could leave a chocolate hand print on a napkin for his uncle to decipher. Everyone laughs at the “cute” and after Barry takes the napkin and promises to “read” it Sean runs off, taking Earl with him.

Ma Allen tells Henry that that’s enough “shop talk” and suggests everyone take their cake and coffee to the next room while lamenting that she should have married that “nice quiet accountant”. While the boys joke around about the series of men Mom is always reminding their father she’d rather be banging, we hear a strange beeping noise. Rather than pulling out a cell phone, however, Barry grabs some strange small black device off his belt. Turns out this is something folks used to carry called a “beeper” or “pager” that would allow someone to dial a number, but rather than getting to actually talk to the person you were dialing, all you could do was enter a contact number or code that the person on the other end would see and know that someone wanted something. Usually your jerk friends would just type 80085 into it over and over.

Having made me feel really old, Barry goes off to find out what is going on while Nora tries to engage Iris in a discussion about her upcoming art exhibit. Nora swings and misses several times trying to figure out what kind of artist Iris is, and Iris tells her she works mostly in “hand-tinted computer graphics” which seems to go right over Nora’s head and causes Jay to inquire how “graphic” they are.

Nora tries to figure out how one hand tints stuff in a computer and Iris realizes she needs to stop pretending this counts as a "job" or "art".

Nora tries to figure out how one hand tints stuff in a computer and Iris realizes she needs to stop pretending this counts as a “job” or “art”.

Before the conversation can get any more awkward or Iris can regret her life choices any further, Barry returns, saying that the Riders have struck again. Jay gets ready to tag along, but Barry assures him that the “shooting is already over” so all that is left is the “mop up”. Kissing Iris goodbye, Barry asks Jay to give her and Earl a ride home. Jay complains about dog hair in his back seat while trying to straight up murder Barry’s dog in front of him by giving him a piece of chocolate cake. Barry adds that Jay better “run him around the block a couple times” or Earl will throw a fit (which Jay won’t be able to distinguish from the one he throws as he dies from chocolate poisoning). And, having managed to pawn his girlfriend and his dog off on his family, Barry puts on his coat and promises his mother that he will be careful.

Of course Henry wonders what is so dangerous and jokes that he might stub his toe on a footprint. Nora chides him but he says he didn’t mean anything by it and continues his descent into Type Two Diabetes by taking another bite of cake. Jay gives his father the stink eye and goes after Barry.

Jay and Barry have a brotherly heart to heart where Jay tells Barry not to let their mean-spirited father get to him. It is here that we learn that, for some reason, Barry promised his mom and dad he wouldn’t become a street cop, which seems odd since Jay is a street cop even though he assures Barry that, if he had the brains for it, he’d trade jobs with him in a second. Barry of course isn’t buying this and then remembers that he has forgotten to give his brother his birthday present. Jay opens a tiny package to reveal a silver medal he had won in high school for track which he used to wear on his letterman jacket for good luck, but which Barry had apparently “borrowed” at some point and forgot to give back for 25 years. Barry is giving it to him now for good luck against the Dark Riders, and if this show were any cheesier we’d hear a music cue here. The two bro hug and, having foreshadowed his brother’s fate, Barry gets in his actually modern car, slaps a red police light on the roof, and takes off.

Back at the armory, where apparently the police have finally figured out there has been a break-in and murder, Barry pulls up and is accosted by a news crew led by Asian Reporter Trisha Takanawa. This actually turns out to be Linda Park, an “inside reference” to the comics where she was Wally West’s one time girlfriend, later wife. As I said in my last post, this show really can’t seem to decide whether it wants to focus on Barry’s tenure as the Flash, or Wally’s, and is constantly throwing out stuff that is really only relevant to Wally’s backstory.

When Barry can’t answer any of her questions, having just shown up on the scene, she asks if there is another officer she can speak with and Barry points to his newly arrived partner Julio Mendez. For some reason the mere appearance of Julio clues her in on the fact that Barry isn’t with the Homicide Department, which seems odd because Julio isn’t really dressed in any way that would lead her to believe that either one of them isn’t a Homicide Detective. Apparently the asian reporter thinks African Americans can’t be detectives…maybe Central City is deeper South than I thought.

Unfortunately 90s TV hadn't invented any good Asian Reporter stereotypes so the writers just went with "raging bitch".

Unfortunately 90s TV hadn’t invented any good Asian Reporter stereotypes so the writers just went with “raging bitch”.

Annoyed, Linda tells her cameraman to stop filming and throws out a sweet burn about seeing if they can find a real detective to which Julio manages a weak comeback about finding a real newscaster while she’s at it. Good one, Julio. Having proved himself the champion of insults, Julio walks with Barry behind the police tape and they start to set up to gather evidence. Before anything can be done, however, we hear thunder and Julio says he better get his “rain suit”(?), whatever the hell that implies. Barry asks him if he’s going to melt and looks none too pleased when all Julio does is chuckle, and it is hard to blame him since his partner has essentially just left him to do all the work before the rain washes away any evidence they might find. As we’ll see later, this seems pretty normal for Julio, as he seems to take every opportunity to ditch on work.

This is what Google comes up with for "rain suit", so apparently Julio is planning to go crabbing.

This is what Google comes up with for “rain suit”, so apparently Julio is planning to go crabbing.

Barry doesn’t get very far on his own before the rain starts and, as he stares up at the sky, we get a music cue to let us know something dramatic is about to happen. Cut to the CCPD’s Crime Lab. Here we get to see how amazingly high tech all their equipment is.

They need two computers because each one can either play pong or process a forensic report, but not both at the same time.

They need two computers because each one can either play pong or process a forensics report, but not both at the same time.

Julio is distracted by the storm brewing outside while Barry is trying to get some actual work done. On a TV on the counter nearby we see that Police Chief Cooper is being grilled by tabloid-style news reporter Joe Kline, who is being played by 90s relevant “comedian” Richard Belzer. I’ll probably go into this more in a later episode, but I really never understood what Belzer’s appeal was. I loved comedy in the 90s, but that love never extended to him and I remember watching this show and cringing every time he appeared on the screen.

Kline wonders if maybe the CCPD is in over their heads with these Dark Riders, but Chief Cooper assures the audience that they are working around the clock and have formed a special task force to deal with the problem. Kline isn’t buying this and the argument goes on way past its relevance to the plot. Fortunately the storm spares us from too much more and Barry turns the TV off and starts barking orders at Julio. Julio mentions that it is already 10pm, which doesn’t faze Barry for a second. We get a little more foreshadowing here as Julio wonders why he brings his boss food, because Barry never eats (trust me, this will be only marginally relevant later). We get a little throw away joke that I’m not going to bother typing and we move on to the next scene.

After this is done he's going to wait 90 minutes for a picture of Tori Spelling to download.

After this is done he’s going to wait 90 minutes for a picture of Tori Spelling to download.

Thanks to the glow-in-the-dark clock on the wall, we see that it is now just past 3:30 in the morning, and while Julio’s lazy ass has naturally fallen asleep, we see that Barry is still working hard putting away random chemicals and failing to notice that Julio is passed out while asking him to make him a solution involving 10% Iodine…you know…for sciencing or something. Noticing that Julio has for some inexplicable reason fallen asleep at three in the morning, Barry goes and wakes him up and tells him to go home while he continues to work. Barry says he’s still analyzing the rubber he pulled from the skid marks at the crime scene, which is apparently a six hour job. Julio attempts some psychoanalysis on why Barry is working so hard, but Barry sends him on his way and gets back to it. We get some more shots of storm clouds and lighting and the music gets really Danny Elfmaned up. Suddenly, a lightning bolt does what we’ve all be waiting for and strikes the building, causing the rack of chemicals Barry is working in front of to become electrified. The whole thing explodes, and Barry’s stunt double is thrown ten feet back.

Central City lightning uses the latest in "Ghostbuster" technology.

Central City lightning uses the latest in “Ghostbuster” technology.

The whole thing is pretty close to how they do it in the new series, only with the obviously less advanced special effects. Alarms start going off, the sprinkler system kicks in, and Julio rushes back into the lab to find out if Barry is okay since, if Barry dies, he’ll have to actually do something. It is here that we first really notice that the lab is in some kind of weird loft above the CCPD HQ.

After a commercial break, we find ourselves at Central City Hospital (apparently there is only one) where Henry, Nora, and Iris are waiting for news on Barry’s condition. Jay comes out from talking to the doctor and ushers everyone into Barry’s room where we see that he is, against medical advice, getting dressed so he can leave, because he feels fine and poo-poos the doctor’s dire assessment of his health, claiming it’s just “cuts, bruises, and a headache”. Papa Allen of course gets behind this macho-ness while everyone else thinks Barry should listen to the trained professional. Henry immediately starts talking about the good ol’ days again, when he got shot in the shoulder twice and was back on the job the next day.

Iris insists of getting Barry some breakfast before she takes him home, so we cut to a diner where we see two 50s-style cars, what looks like a Trans-Am, and then a generic 90s car. I’m really not sure what kind of feel the producers were trying to give Central City, but it isn’t really working.

A couple spaces over is a DeLorean with a "crazy wild-eyed scientist" and a kid in the front seat.

A couple spaces over is a DeLorean with a “crazy wild-eyed scientist” and a kid in the front seat.

The diner is of course a 50s themed diner and we pan past waitresses dressed in pink and customers about to head out to the sock hop at the local high school and find Iris boring Barry out of his mind with talk of how poorly the gallery hung her “mostly hand-tinted computer graphics”. She complains that, since this is her first show, she of course has absolutely no input on how her artwork should be displayed and that she thinks maybe her prices are too high, all while he stares off into space.

She snaps him out of it and he starts talking about how his near-death experience has made him start thinking about his life. She knows where this is going and he wonders what’s wrong with that. She says she loves him and seems to think that should be “enough right now”. He for some reason accepts this and starts to drop it, saying he needs to get to the lab which causes her to say that he’s “too much” and she wonders what he was doing there “at 3 o’clock in the morning anyway”. They have a rather dull fight about the fact that Barry is too dedicated and feels justified in working hard what with the whole crime wave that is happening and all. Have I mentioned how annoying Iris is? She is really annoying.

Anyway, after that little bit of drama we are all of the sudden at what looks like an old dam and a motorcycle drives into some abandoned tunnels where we find our much talked about Dark Riders hanging around like the hippie beatniks they are. One of said leather jacket clad beatniks grabs a couple plates of BBQ that is being grilled up right there in the tunnels and starts walking through the throng of people. We pass a guy who looks like one of Wayne and Garth’s buddies from Wayne’s World, making a fresh batch of glow balls.

It is neither "party-time" nor "excellent".

It is neither “party-time” nor “excellent”.

Mr. Leather Jacket (who we find out is called Rick) eventually gets the food to his vaguely Meg Tilly looking girlfriend who comments on how awesome it is that they are having “steak again” and that they never ate this good on the streets. Our friend Rick, however, isn’t letting his mood be lifted by the promise of steak, and Almost-Tilly wonders what is wrong with him. He apparently feels the cops were a little too close to catching them on their last caper, but she assures him that “Pike” isn’t going to let them get caught.

And if you can't trust Luke Perry, who can you trust?

And if you can’t trust Luke Perry, who can you trust?

Rick doesn’t share her confidence in their leader and thinks he must have gotten “scrambled or something” because of the apparently horrible scars he has. Tilly-Lite is aghast because Pike is “a genius” and takes care of them. Rick then reveals that he’s been taking some of the money they’ve pulled in on their heists (I’m guessing this happened sometime while they were blowing up random stuff) and that he’s getting her out of there tonight.

The perfect person to assess "genius".

The perfect person to assess “genius”.

Tilly-ish tells him she just needs to get the rest of her stuff (because I guess she owns more than the horrible tube top she’s wearing) and goes off. Of course because Pike is a genius she can’t go along with this and goes and tells him what Rick has planned. Soon we see the man himself in all his horrible scrambled glory.

Women can't resist tall, dark, scrambled geniuses.

Women can’t resist tall, dark, scrambled geniuses.

He looks lovingly at Approxi-Meg (hey, give me a break, these are getting hard) and tells her she was right to come to him with this. She smiles like a good Manson Family member and they head down to the main room. Pike then takes a moment to give his followers a rousing speech about how Central City is crumbling, the street are empty, and people live in fear (hey…we DID see all that earlier, didn’t we!). Pike goes on to talk about the lies that the police spread about how they will protect the city, but feels they are full of crap because, for some reason, the cops didn’t offer every single one of them food and shelter like he did. Suddenly we see Rick who has now been collected by a couple of guys armed with assault rifles. He asks “Lila” why she went and told on him and then tries to convince Pike that he was totally going to give him the money. Pike then promises all his minions that when the city and police are finally broken they’ll all get their fair share, implying that, while they are getting steak and a nice dank tunnel to sleep it, Pike is keeping the cash for himself for the moment. Apparently Pike is just trying to build up a little interest so he can give them a good return on their investment. The crowd seems cool with this.

The Blue Rebel says: It's not the amount of drugs I smoked, it's the...wait what now?

The Blue Rebel says: It’s not the amount of drugs I smoked, it’s the…wait what now?

Pike goes on to give us a little history lesson by letting us know that “in the days of Genghis Khan, a disloyal warrior was tied to a horse and then set free. His punishment was left to fate”. So of course the crowd grabs Rick and straps him belly down and backwards on a motorcycle because, much like a real horse, motorcycles naturally have their own self-interests in mind and won’t just go off course and run into a wall or something. Also, in order to give “fate” a hand in deciding Rick’s punishment, they put a glow ball on his back, because that’s how they did it in the days of Genghis Khan.

Green glow balls actually originated in Ancient Egypt where they were also used to blow up traitors.

Green glow balls actually originated in Ancient Egypt where they were also used to blow up traitors.

They then rev up the bike and set it “free” to roam where it will, which ends up being about twenty feet down a side tunnel before it, in a completely surprise twist of fate, blows up. Everyone hoots and hollers about how awesome this is and we are blessedly transitioned to our next scene.

We find ourselves back in the CCPD lab where Barry has just returned. An entire team of people in lab coats are cleaning things up, but don’t worry, we won’t ever see this many people working in the lab again. Apparently the janitors here just like to wear white lab coats.

Julio is naturally glad to see Barry, as it means he can get back to being lazy. Fortunately they only lost enough evidence to just “slow [them] down”, and Julio informs Barry that his doctor called and insisted on talking to Barry as soon as he got in. Barry, who previously had blown off the doctor’s concerns, immediately picks up the phone. The doctor informs him that one of the tests revealed some kind of cell damage and wants Barry to make an appointment with a specialist at S.T.A.R. Labs. Thanks to Julio’s exposition drop, we find out some guy got killed last year in one of their tests. Barry has heard this rumor and refuses to be a guinea pig to the super evil scientists. Here we have another common tie to the new series, this idea that S.T.A.R. has a bad reputation. We never really get this in the comics as far as I can remember. Maybe I’m wrong, but in the comics, S.T.A.R. Labs always seems like the go to place for superheroes. It is also really weird that a scientist would be so mistrustful of other scientists just because they work for a federally funded operation. Barry is a scientist and a cop isn’t he?

After this little bit of nonsense, Barry sends Julio off to get some soil sample evidence and reaches for a coffee mug which he sends flying across the room because he reaches for it too fast. Of course we don’t really get this impression, because it is cut very poorly and his hand didn’t seem to be going all that fast in the first place, but let us take a leap of faith here and say it happened that way.

"Why you shifty mug...."

“Why you shifty mug….”

Cut to the next day and we are at Barry’s apartment. Earl brings his leash in to a sleeping Barry to ask for walkies. After a doggy make-out session, Barry finally gets up and suddenly we are running in the park. A children’s baseball game is happening nearby and when the batter sends a ball flying, we see that Earl has spotted where it has landed, though apparently none of the outfielders have as no one seems to be making a run for it. Earl naturally flips his $#!+ and begins going for the ball while Barry gets dragged behind. Barry eventually goes to run ahead of him and suddenly takes off at superspeed, outpacing Earl and eventually slamming into some bushes.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 20.31.34

Drugs…just…so many drugs.

Rather than breaking several bones, Barry merely stumbles out of the bushes (that were right against a hill by the way), dirty and disheveled and promptly passes out. Cut back to Barry’s apartment and we see that Barry has downed everything in place. This is funny because remember, Barry never eats anything, remember that? No?

Why was all this stuff in a bachelor's apartment anyway? If this were reality he'd have had two rotten apples and couple packages of ramen.

Why was all this stuff in a bachelor’s apartment anyway? If this were reality he’d have had two rotten apples and couple packages of ramen.

This is another call back to the comics that kind of muddies the line between the use of Barry in the show, and the obvious fact that they wanted to be using Wally from the comics. You see, Barry never had a problem with his metabolism, but Wally sure as hell did. While Barry ate and slept fairly normally, Wally, at that point in time, needed massive amounts of food every time he used his powers because he was constantly starving, his metabolism having literally drained him of all his energy. This was actually made into a huge deal in the comics and was one of the reasons Tina McGee was called in. But it never applied to Barry until this show decided that all speedsters would just naturally have this flaw (even though it kind of just makes the power seem a little crappier). In the comics you’d see Wally eating entire restaurants out of their supply of hotdogs, and later in this episode you see Barry finish four whole pizzas in one sitting. Can you imagine if Batman had to make a Taco Bell run every time he beat up a street gang? It just never worked for me and, besides giving Barry some kind of weakness to exploit, it doesn’t make sense here either. And it also seems kind of weird that Barry is barely concerned about having just cleaned out his pantry and still being hungry. He barely comments on it before going on to shovel chicken into his face.

Earl is a little freaked out by this at least and goes to hide behind the couch. And now that Barry is close to the plot-point revealing device (aka the answering machine) he checks his messages and finds that Iris had called wondering where he is as he was supposed to help her set up for her exhibit at the gallery. Barry looks at his watch, changes, and rushes out of the house only to find that he has a flat tire (wouldn’t ya know it!). Seeing a bus down the road, Barry takes off to catch it and suddenly bursts into a super-fast jog.

Rear projection and a blur effect...ILM eat your heart out!

Rear projection and a blur effect…ILM eat your heart out!

I’ll ignore the bad special effects here (because frankly if I stop to comment every time they are bad I’ll never get done with this), but what really kills me about this scene is that it literally goes on for 25 seconds. The whole time we see that Barry seems perfectly aware of what he is doing. He even manages to make sharp turns and doesn’t seem to think to try and stop until he sees the ocean in front of him at the end of a beach. Ending up in the water, Barry stumbles back to shore and we find out that he is now at Crystal Beach which is “30 miles” away from his apartment.

So, let us make the math a little easier and assume it actually took him five more seconds than we saw to get there. That would mean he was clocking a mile a second or taking a brisk 3,600 mph jog. Later in the episode we see him briefly topping out at 480 mph before pushing himself further after which he breaks the sound barrier and creates a sonic boom. Here, not only do we never see evidence of a sonic boom, but he doesn’t even seem like he was struggling. Even if we assume we didn’t see the whole run and it actually took much longer, that makes even less sense. Say it actually took him two minutes to get there and he was only going around 900 mph (still well above the speed of sound). That would mean that for longer than your average American can jog total without stopping to wheeze, Barry managed to not only keep going, but didn’t even think to apply the breaks. Why not make Crystal Beach a mere 5 miles away? Then he’d have only been hauling at 600 mph and at least it would be a little closer to what we see later. It still would be really fast, but not Mach 4.7 fast. That is just sloppy writing. Of course I’m sure they didn’t expect someone to actually pull out a calculator. Obviously this show was not nerd-proofed.

Anyway, moving on. Immediately after leaving the water Barry passes out again and wakes up some time later under a lifeguard tower. The sun is starting to set and Barry looks at his watch to see that it is “Oh my God” o’clock. Rushing to a pay phone(!) and looking just this side of homeless, Barry makes a call to Iris and tries to explain everything before begging for a ride. He naturally fails to charm her with his “I just ran 30 miles” story, so I guess he has to walk home. Hopefully for my nerd-rage it took him considerably longer than 30 seconds.

Back at home we see that Barry has changed, Earl has gotten over his fear, and Barry is finishing one TV Dinner and starting a second (with two more ready to go, but hey, at least it is a step in the right direction from earlier). The phone rings and it is Christina McGee from S.T.A.R. Labs. Now that he has broken the everything-speed record, Barry is a little more inclined to talk. Barry agrees to meet her at ten the following morning at her lab at 50 Garrick Ave (yet another inside reference for Flash fans, but at least we don’t see a busted open cage with a name-plate that says Grodd at any point). After hanging up the phone, Barry turns around to see that Earl has finished the dinner he was working on as well as the other two he hadn’t gotten to, so, holding up Earl’s leash, he offers to take Earl to “Burger World” so he can get something to eat. Earl is having none of this after the park incident and, grabbing the leash, closes himself in the closest.

Cut to what I’m assuming is around ten the next morning and Barry is waiting at the preordained place on Garrick Ave. He looks at his watch in an annoyed fashion so obviously the good doctor is running late (Lady scientists, huh? Am I right, fellas?). She finally shows up wearing round John Lennon sunglasses and the best high-waisted mom slacks the 90s have to offer. There is some kind of instant chemistry? I guess? It is really hard to tell because honestly McGee looks a little frumpy compared to the woman Barry is actively dating, but none-the-less he states that she isn’t what he expected. Dr. McGee says they are even in that case. I have to agree with her here as John Wesley Shipp is definitely not what I expected as The Flash either. Dr. McGee leads Barry into her office building(?), which, for some reason, is lit with neon purple lighting (Seriously, the 90s were weird you guys).

Unfortunately Tina shares office space with a lava lamp store.

Unfortunately Tina shares office space with a lava lamp store.

Tina confirms that Barry is a Police Chemist and asks if he is aware of their programs. Barry says no as S.T.A.R. is “federal” so the CCPD doesn’t have much contact with them. Tina wonders what Barry is so afraid of since he too is a scientist, so Barry lays out the rumors about S.T.A.R.’s “unorthodox experiments, secret government contracts” which Tina dismisses as “rumors mostly”. So Barry lays into her and asks if it is a rumor that one of their researchers died last year in an experiment. Turning away, Tina confirms this one. As it turns out the researcher in question was her husband.

S.T.A.R. Labs - where science and horrifying modern art meet.

S.T.A.R. Labs – where science and horrifying modern art meet.

Walking into her state-of-the-art lab, Barry asks how many people work here and Tina says it is just her. I guess this is supposed to show us the stark contrast between the money the “evil” government throws at its researchers versus the pittance that police scientists have to survive on, or something. It is somehow at the same time vague and not at all subtle.

Sadly, even with government funding Tina still has to share her lab space with the local Curves.

Two stationary bikes? I guess even with government funding, Tina still has to share her lab space with the local Curves.

Tina asks Barry to go over everything from the beginning, starting with the accident. She asks if he has any idea what chemicals were on the rack the lightning struck and he starts naming them with ease. She seems surprised that he “knows all that”, to which he points out the fact that she “knows all this” in her fancy pants lab. Tina gives him a “touché” look and moves on. Next we see her putting wireless sensors all over him. They apparently each transmit their own signal and she built them herself to keep from tripping over wires. I guess this is so we know she is a super genius who is capable of building all sorts of gadgets.

It turns out that what Barry is standing on some sort of treadmill that is built into the floor. Seriously, why does she have this? What kind of experiments does she normally do that she needs a treadmill built into the floor and those two stationary bikes from earlier? Or is this just for her personal use? She does seem in decent shape, maybe working out is just important to her.

Anyway, she agrees with me that it seems like total crap that he ran all the way to Crystal Beach in only a couple seconds so she wants to see how big of a filthy liar he is. Okay, actually she just says “if you ran to Crystal Beach in a few seconds, let’s see how you got there”, but I’m standing by my inference of the obvious subtext.

Anyway, she goes over to her computer and starts up the treadmill, and now that I’m watching this more closely I have to say that, as long as she is sticking to the whole “scientist” shtick Amanda Pays is really not as bad as I previously thought. Granted, whenever she strays into the whole showing emotion stuff she misses the mark, but she actually seems kind of cute in a way with the whole super-analytical scientist bit. But I digress. So she starts up the treadmill and begins watching the monitor and within a few seconds Barry is already exceeding 125 mph. After about 25 seconds (yet again with the 25 seconds) the treadmill blows up. According to Tina’s sensors Barry managed 347.31 mph. As she points out however, this was just up until the equipment failed so he might not have hit his top speed. As we discussed earlier, obviously he didn’t hit his top speed as, at 347.31 mph, after 30 seconds he would have only managed a paltry 2.89 miles, a far cry from the 30 he managed earlier. I’m beginning to doubt Tina’s credentials, or at least her mathing skills.

"I am a scientist not a mathologist."

“I am a scientist not a mathologist.”

So they start running more tests. The next thing we see is that Tina has put him in the “Imaging Resonator” which tells her that all his “electro-chemical systems are accelerated” including his “nerve synapses, brain waves” and that this is “even when [he] is at rest”. She also lays it on him that his “muscle and bone tissue are changing to keep pace”. This freaks Barry out and he wants to know how they can stop this, but Tina begs him to bear with her for a few more tests.

Oddly enough her “tests” go from the highly advanced scientific equipment to having him put a shuffled deck of cards in order (very scientific). This takes him a whopping three seconds (which will make how slow he does some other stuff later on even more aggravating for me).

Naturally he is now wiped out which Tina explains as being a result of his blood-sugar being incredibly low. She asks if he is hungry and we smash cut to the scene I referenced earlier where Barry has finished off four pizzas on his own. One slice is left and he half-heartedly offers it to Tina. She turns it down and he goes to town. A waiter with very 90s long hair asks if he’d like another one and he momentarily looks super excited, but quickly turns the offer down when he realizes he is looking kind of like a pig at this point. Rather than find this disgusting as Barry assumes she does (you know, because she’s a girl and all), Tina actually finds it fascinating and has a little bit of a nerd-boner going. She explains (to the scientist may I remind you), that his body is using up so much energy that it is demanding that he replace it. Barry, the scientist once again, flat out says he can’t even pretend to understand all this, but he has guessed that, if everything about him is moving faster, he could be aging prematurely. Tina kind of dodges the concern and says she thinks she can help him, but she doesn’t want anyone to know she is treating him because she is afraid of what the gov’ment might do if they find out what Barry can do. She claims to have seen it happen before and we get the backstory on her deceased husband.

David, apparently discovered an enzyme that stimulated the brain and enhanced the senses. The Man demanded that he start human trials before it was fully perfected and when David raged against the machine, their funding was threatened, so David tried it on himself. Unlike the awesome time travel results of Project Quantum Leap, David was dead by the time Tina found him.

Tina makes the mistake of telling Barry she feels lucky he came to her as he may just be her life’s work. This pisses Barry off and he reiterates that he wants these powers gone and that is the deal. Later, at Barry’s apartment, we find that Barry’s metabolism is so out of control that even Earl’s dog food is looking good to him. Barry looks out the window just in time to see Iris pull up and, looking around at the mess in his apartment, decides to use his superspeed to clean things up before she can make it upstairs.

This is another scene that has always bugged me (and I mean always. Even as a kid I knew it was stupid). Things start out promising, if you ignore the stupid fast-paced classical music that starts up or the reused shot of Earl closing himself up in the closet from earlier, but things quickly (ha!) spin out of control.

You see, at first everything is going fine and Barry has actually managed to get things straightened up without any problems. Then, when everything is already almost already completely clean, Barry for some strange reason starts speeding up. You might say that he merely can’t control himself, but I call B.S. because earlier, when he was organizing the deck of cards in Tina’s lab, he had no trouble at all stopping when he was done. It wasn’t like he started, got almost finished and then started randomly throwing cards around at superspeed. He put them in order and stopped. But here, for some reason, he gets almost completely done cleaning and then goes nuts and starts, I don’t know, randomly running around the room or something.

This causes a whirlwind to spring up in his apartment and all of the stuff he just finished organizing just ends up thrown all over the place and he has a bigger mess on his hands than he started with. I’m just not sure what the heck he thinks he is doing at this point since, as I said, he was already almost done. But hey…comedy! Right?



Exasperated at the new mess he’s created just as Iris knocks, he throws the towels he still has in his hands into the air and opens the door. Iris claims she was just driving by but then looks down and sees that Barry’s shoes are smoking. Screaming that they are on fire Barry starts trying to stomp them out while Iris jumps into the apartment. At this point we can see that there are burn/skid marks on the hardwood floor leading to the front door (comedy!). Barry claims he dropped a match on the floor and this seems to work for Iris. She then asks what happened to his place and Barry blames it on Earl. Iris decides they need to “talk” and Barry apologizes for missing her exhibit, blaming it on blackouts that he’s been having. This isn’t cutting it like the brilliant match on the floor story and Iris says they need to slow things down and maybe stop seeing each other for a while. She mentions at this point that she is 25 and not thinking about getting married, but looking at the stupid hat she is wearing she looks more like she is 16.

"And then Bobby told Cindy that he was taking Debra to the prom, so Cindy said..."

“And then Bobby told Cindy that he was taking Debra to the prom, so Cindy said…”

Okay, I’m going to kind of skip ahead a little past this next scene because it really doesn’t add much to the plot. It takes place back at the Biker HQ (holy crap, I almost forgot they were actually the main bad guys here). Basically the only important parts of it are that we see that Lila has traded up and is with Pike now, Pike is crazy, the Police Chief is showing off his new task force tonight on TV, and Pike used to be a cop and wrote the CCPD’s Motorcycle Officer’s Handbook. Oh, and his first name is Nicholas if you cared.

And he either doesn't know how to take care of books or the publisher was going for something arty.

And he either doesn’t know how to take care of books or the publisher was going for something arty.

Moving on. We are back at the CCPD lab and Jay is there waiting for Barry and randomly decides to pour some random red liquid into some random bottle with white powder in it and seems surprised when it starts reacting and foaming over. Man, he seriously wasn’t joking about not having much in the brains department.

And yet they let this guy carry a loaded weapon as part of his job.

And yet they let this guy carry a loaded weapon as part of his job.

Barry shows up and pokes a little fun at him. They banter back and forth a little and it is pretty boring, but fortunately Julio shows up (I can’t believe I just said that) and says he has good news. Apparently one of the bikers left behind a hair sample at one of the crime scenes. Barry wants to send it to Chicago for a DNA profile, but Julio is one step ahead and says he not only has already done so, but he has the results already. Besides taking away my joy in joking about Julio’s laziness, this just makes him kind of seem like a jerk whose been sitting on evidence.

According to DNA Testing Centre Inc. in Michigan, depending on the type of test, it can take anywhere from 1 to 15 business days just for the test itself to be done. Also, Central City is supposed to be in Missouri on the Missouri/Kansas border. Let’s assume it is around where Kansas City, Missouri is. That means Chicago is roughly 500 miles away. And we need to remember that this is 1990. Even if it was rushed there by plane, which it probably wouldn’t be, despite how desperate the CCPD is for leads, we’re still talking maybe 2-3 hours just in travel time (even if they faxed the results back, but they obviously didn’t just do that because Julio has the sample in his hand). But wait, Julio says that this crime happened just last night, so not only did he get jumping on getting the sample to Chicago on CCPD’s private jet, but he also somehow managed to circumvent the at least 1 business day for the testing. So Julio is not only a better Crime Lab Scientist than I thought, but managed to invent time travel and is just using it for the stupidest reasons possible (instead of, say, to stop the crime from happening in the first place). I owe him a partial apology I guess.

Aaaand that stupid “beard” has ruined the moment.

Aaaand that stupid “beard” has ruined the moment.

Anyway, besides Julio’s amazing new time-travel powers we learn that Jay is going to be heading up the new task force, because of course he is.

We cut to the press conference announcing this new task force, but before Jay can finish his speech, the Dark Riders show up and start with all manner of shenanigans. People get shot, paint gets thrown on the building, the usual. And of course the cops manage to hit exactly zero of the gang members. Linda Park is on the scene and Jay says he is going to get the scum that did this. And of course later on the gang is watching their exploits on the news. Seeing Jay on TV pisses Pike off and he goes all Batman growly, saying that this is the man who betrayed him and gave him his scars before punching out the screen.

Cut to the S.T.A.R. Labs test track, which looks like it is used to test high-speed vehicles (which makes me wonder how often that comes up), or else it is used by the local high school. Tina is there setting up her equipment.

This must be where they hold their intramural track meets against Cadmus Labs.

This must be where they hold their intramural track meets against Cadmus Labs.

Obviously the plan is the have Barry run the track to see how fast he can go, but there is an added twist. See, every time Barry runs, his speed, while not hurting his body, destroys his clothes. Now in the comics this isn’t an issue because speedsters produce their own kind of forcefield that not only protects them from the physical damages normally associated with super-high speeds, but extends a few centimeters outward, protecting their clothes and actually anyone they carry. The field also makes it possible for them to breath, even though running that fast would normally make that impossible; it cuts down wind resistance, allowing them to move even faster than they might otherwise; and it has been proposed that it may even turn the kinetic energy of their running into fueling energy. For Wally this doesn’t solve his need to eat a lot, but if he didn’t have it he would have to eat constantly, even as he was running. Anyway, in this version Barry is protected from his own powers, otherwise they would be useless, but his clothes aren’t, so Tina needs to come up with some way to keep him from ending up running around in the buff.

Hard to decide which one of these two looks stupider in what they are wearing.

Hard to decide which one of these two looks stupider in what they are wearing.

Enter, as she describes it, a “Soviet prototype deep sea suit” (which is obviously why it is red, duh) that she “borrowed” after the project was abandoned months ago (probably as the Russians were trying to deal with that whole collapse of the Soviet Union thing). I have no idea how or why the Soviets decided to go with a skin-tight suit that leaves little to the imagination, but which has “a layer of reactive insulation” next to the wearer’s skin which expands and allows the suit to “handle the pressure of high-velocity” and regulate body temperature.

"In Soviet Russia, suit wears you!"

“In Soviet Russia, suit wears you!”

How advanced did we think the Soviets really were at that time? For some reason, despite all the evidence to the contrary, American writers seemed to think that we were just a few hours away from being wiped out by the superior science of the Soviet Union on a regular basis. I mean, seriously, besides the obvious uses for a man who can move at super-human speeds, or apparently deep sea explorers, think of all the things someone could do with this suit? If the Soviets were that good, why did they lose again?

So anyway, Barry’s got the supercool commie suit and Tina fits him with an earpiece communicator which he will have no trouble at all using. If you saw the new series pilot episode there is a scene that is really similar to this one where they take Barry out to an airfield to see how fast he can go. Julio…I mean Cisco gives him a prototype communicator that was designed to combat battlefield impulse noise, or, as he points out, potential sonic booms. Tina doesn’t mention that the communicator she is giving Barry is any different from a regular one.

She puts her wireless sensors on him and turns everything on, telling Barry to go whenever he is ready. Barry takes off and is quickly holding at 480 mph. This time it only takes about 20 seconds to get there, so he seems to be accelerating faster now.

At least he didn't turn into a horrifying digital puppet this time.

At least he didn’t turn into a horrifying digital puppet this time.

Tina asks if he can go any faster and Barry obliges, but a few seconds later is about to cause a sonic boom, despite the fact that the last speed Tina reads out is 620 mph (the speed of sound in dry air at 68 degrees is about 760 mph, so he kind of makes a huge jump out of nowhere). In any case, the sonic boom isn’t that impressive, but it causes Tina to lose contact with Barry for a moment (she freaks out for some reason, despite the fact that all she would have to do is look around and see the red streak going around the track to know he was at least still alive and running).

"Oh...yep...there he is. Guess he's fine."

“Oh…yep…there he is. Guess he’s fine.”

This isn’t however because of equipment failure, but because, despite his body becoming suited to moving at superspeed, his ears started ringing because of the sonic boom. Anyway, he’s fine and apparently starting to like this whole running faster than sound thing.

Tina says she envies him and asks how it feels and Barry, being the genius he is, tells her to see for herself and detours to pick her up and take her for a couple laps, completely forgetting the whole “your clothes get all ripped up and that is why you have to wear the suit” business, or the fact that her muscle and bone tissue HASN’T been changing this whole time to keep up with his speed so he really has no idea how it will affect her. This is kind of like when, in The Avengers, Thor tried to hit Captain America, the man he’d never met before and who he didn’t know possessed an unbreakable shield, with his god hammer. Obviously, much like Thor, Barry is straight up trying to murder Tina.

The cold smile of a psychopath.

The cold smile of a psychopath.

Fortunately the worst she suffers is one single torn sleeve because this is still CBS and Game of Thrones levels of nudity hadn’t been invented on TV yet. Hell, her hair isn’t even messed up. She looks perfectly fine. Ask any woman with straight hair how well it holds up after being in a windstorm and see what she says. Tina doesn’t even look mad, she actually seems to be a little turned on by the fact that he’s holding her like that. We also discover that Barry’s breathing and pulse are regular, despite his attempted homicide.

However, as successful as the test was, Barry still starts to feel faint and nearly collapses, only to feel perfectly fine a second later.

To Be Continued…

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Flashback: 90s Flash Review


In my last post I reviewed the pilot episode of the CW’s new Flash series. For those that didn’t read it (pretty much everyone) the long and short of it was that I liked it, even though it had a few minor issues, and am looking forward to seeing what they do with it.

So, now that I’ve looked at the now, I figured I’d take a moment (or five) and look back at the then. In September of the way back ancient past of 1990, when I was a spry(er) lad of 12 about to turn 13, CBS aired the two-hour pilot episode of The Flash.


Now, astute readers, or those who were actually alive at that time and aware of the movies of that era, might have noticed that this is just over a year after the release of the (at that time) insanely popular Batman movie starring the evil CEO of OmniCorp in the recent RoboCop movie and that weird old guy court-side at all those Laker home games.

And directed by the man responsible for Helena Bonham Carter's continued career.

And directed by the man responsible for Helena Bonham Carter’s continued career.

This was a dark time when Marvel hadn’t yet achieved the ability to release a movie starring a tree and a talking raccoon and receive all the money. Superhero movies were a fairly rare thing and superhero TV shows hadn’t really been a thing since The Greatest American Hero left the air six years earlier.

I'm not going to count the Superboy show that was still going into the early 90's because no one remembers that show...including the actors who starred in it.

I’m not going to count the Superboy show that was still going into the early 90’s because no one remembers that show…including the actors who starred in it.

But then came Batman in the summer of 1989 and things got a little different (and a little weird). Superhero movies still weren’t really seen as legitimate films in the way they are today, but Batman had made production companies realize that there were a good number of people willing to pay to see a man with a cape punch Jack Nicholson in the face.

Not seen since his tragic falling out with Liberace.

Not seen since his tragic falling out with Liberace.

However, Hollywood (and by extension television producers) has never been very good and figuring out why something is popular. Batman earned someone a brand new cocaine jacuzzi so it must mean that people want comic book based entertainment. Enter a new generation of comic book based television. And, much like when DC Comics decided to try and reinvent comics in the 50s and introduced what would later be known as the Silver Age of Comic Books, things started with a red-clad speedster known as The Flash.

Who'd have figured a speedster would get there first.

Who’d have figured a speedster would get there first.

If you have any doubts that The Flash’s appearance on the small screen was in any way influenced by the popularity of Batman a year earlier, you may notice that the theme song sounds a little familiar. That would be because it was done by an obscure musician called Danny Elfman who you might recognize as the man who has pretty much done the music for almost every Tim Burton movie ever. It also manages to be a fairly dark and gritty production which was a little out of character for the…uh…character in the comics even by the darker 90s standards, but which fit perfectly with the feel of Batman. Hell, even Central City looks like a smaller version of Gotham from Batman.

Good to know that Gotham's Steam and Grime Industry is alive and well.

Good to know that Gotham’s Steam and Grime Industry is alive and well.

So what was up with this show that might have had some promise had it not been stacked against juggernauts like The Simpsons (already in its 500th season at this point) and The Cosby Show (which featured sweaters as garish as any supervillain costume found on The Flash)?

Five bank guards died from this sweater alone.

Five bank guards died from this sweater alone.

The Flash starred John Wesley Shipp, whose claim to fame up to that point had been appearances on a handful of soap operas during the 80s. I’m not entirely sure what exactly led to Shipp being cast for the role, though the fact that he had a fairly convincing superhero body probably didn’t hurt, despite the fact that it didn’t really seem to work with what The Flash was. Now, I’m sure he is a great guy, and honestly he really isn’t that bad of an actor, but he just really is not a good fit for the character. You never really look at him and think “scientist” so much as you think “high school gym teacher”.

But you can tell he's a scientist because he wears a lab coat and carries chemicals around.

But you can tell he’s a scientist because he wears a lab coat and carries chemicals around.

I don’t know why I feel so bad being so critical of him in this show. I’ve never met the guy, but he really does seem like a nice guy and I’m not really trying to be mean. It isn’t his fault that he really wasn’t suited for the role, it was a side-effect of an industry that really doesn’t seem to think too much about casting for shows like this. He just really isn’t The Flash. He actually, oddly enough, seems like The Flash’s dad, which is why it seems even more perfect that he actually plays that role in the new series.

"You listen to me you little punk...I was playing you when you were still in diapers!"

“You listen to me you little punk…I was playing you when you were still in diapers!”

Another part of the problem with this version of the character is the fact that it seems like the writers weren’t really sure which version of The Flash to work from. You see, at this point in the comics Barry Allen wasn’t The Flash anymore. Barry had met his tragic end (which we would find out years later wasn’t, in fact, the end) saving the world about five years earlier and wouldn’t come back for real until a couple decades later. By the time the pilot episode came around, the mantle of The Flash had been carried by Barry’s nephew Wally West for just over three years, but it of course made more sense to use Barry’s origin since Wally’s origin only came about because of Barry. Unfortunately the writers still seemed to draw a little more from Wally’s character than Barry’s so we end up with a Barry Allen who isn’t really a scientist type despite working in a crime lab and who shows a lot more of the characteristics of a Wally West who was still trying to distinguish himself from his mentor as The Flash.

Including his ability to really pack it away.

As well as his ability to really pack it away.

Iris West also appears in the pilot episode, but she is even less like the Iris West from the comics than Candice Patton. One thing I didn’t mention in my review of the new Flash pilot is that Iris West, from her introduction in the comics on, was a reporter (for some reason all superheroes back in the day were contractually obligated to be romantically involved with newspaper reporters). This facet of the character isn’t adopted for the new series, but since new Iris herself kind of only seems to serve as a point of emotional conflict for Barry, I kind of just ignored it. In the original series she is a computer graphics artist (remember, this was the 90s, when that actually meant something beyond “owns a good version of photoshop”), and she is so annoying you are relieved when she ends up not showing up again after the first episode.

If for no other reason than so we'd never have to see that very 90's outfit again.

If for no other reason than for the fact that you never have to see that very 90’s outfit again.

Also appearing in the pilot episode is the Allen family which includes Barry’s parents Henry (M. Emmet Walsh) and Nora (Priscilla Pointer) Allen (only Nora doesn’t die when Barry is a kid and Henry is a retired CCPD sergeant who can’t seem to get over not being active on the force anymore and doesn’t see Barry as a real cop because he works in the crime lab instead of walking a beat) as well as Barry’s brother Jay Allen (who doesn’t exist in the comics but shares first names with Jay Garrick who was the first Flash in the comics) who is a motorcycle cop (played by bit part tough guy Tim Thomerson and his perfectly quaffed silver coiffure) and therefore receives all of the senior Allen’s attention.

Don't look it in the eyes...it may charge.

“Don’t look it in the eyes…it may charge.”

As much as Jay’s presence here annoys me, it isn’t that big of a deal because he dies in the pilot episode (it isn’t a spoiler if the show is old enough to vote and buy liquor). The Allens don’t really play too big of a role in the show other than to give Barry a little motivation to prove himself to his disapproving father and avenge the murder of his brother.

Unlike the new series, the original show had a much smaller regular cast. It was pretty much limited to Barry himself and his two “coworkers” from each of his “jobs”. In his life as a mild-mannered crime lab scientist, Barry works with one Julio Mendez (Alex Desert) who looks a lot like Darius Rucker (from his Hootie & the Blowfish years…not from his current and inexplicable career as a Country Music Singer). Sadly Julio is akin to our good friend Cisco Ramon only with dreadlocks and without the mechanical engineering skills (hell, he barely even has the skills to be a crime lab scientist).

"You can call me your fool..."

“You can call me your fool…”

In his superhero career he works with S.T.A.R. Labs scientist Christina “Tina” McGee (Amanda Pays) who fills the role of the three S.T.A.R. Labs scientists in the new series and is responsible for his costume and the exposition on his powers. This character annoys me for several reason and is by far the weakest part of the show (and that is saying a lot when you have such star power on display as you do with Julio there).

"I only want to be with yoooouuuu..."

“I only want to be with yoooouuuu…”

First of all, as I said in my review of the new series, I don’t understand why this character is even necessary. She should be completely superfluous since, in the comics at least, Barry had no problem figuring out his powers on his own. Now I get it, it is a little more realistic in this case. In the show Barry is called a “police chemist”, he isn’t a physicist or biologist, so he probably doesn’t know about this kind of stuff in great detail, but, as any kind of scientist, he still shouldn’t need another scientist to dumb it down to the extent that Tina McGee does for Barry. He should still be able to figure a lot of this stuff out on his own. I understand that the writers needed someone to act as a stand-in for the audience for exposition purposes, but that person shouldn’t himself be a scientist. The comic solves this by having Barry (and later Wally) do a kind of voice-over deal to explain things to the reader (or when Wally was younger, Barry would just explain it to him), and I realize this is harder to do with a TV show, but there are ways around it without making our hero seem like the worst scientist in the history of science.



There is also another reason for her involvement here that is more related to what the comics were doing at that time. Once again, by this point in the comics Wally had taken over and he was never a scientist. He got his powers as a child while visiting Barry’s lab when, in one of the most classic examples of a comic book coincidence, the same accident that gave Barry his powers happened again, bestowing those same powers on Wally. Wally always had Barry to help him figure out his powers.

It probably wasn't the best idea to leave a child in the care of a man who wears tight spandex outfits.

It probably wasn’t the best idea to leave a child in the care of a man who wears tight spandex outfits.

When Wally took over as The Flash his powers went a little wonky and Tina McGee was involved in helping him figure out what was going on. In the comic it made sense, Wally wasn’t a scientist and his powers weren’t working in the way in which he had become accustomed so it made sense to bring in a scientist to help him figure it out. But the show isn’t dealing with Wally, it is dealing with Barry and Tina, much like Dr. Wells in the new series, isn’t really necessary. Then there is the fact that, I’m sorry, Amanda Pays is not at all a good actress. Her lines are stilted and awkward and she just never really worked as a potential romantic interest (another thing from the comics).

You can tell she's a scientist because she always looks slightly confused.

You can tell she’s a scientist because she always looks slightly confused.

So, now that we’ve examined the cast, as with my review of the new series, let us move on to the special effects. As I alluded to in my last review, the special effects on display here aren’t exactly the good kind of special. And I get it, it was the very early 90s. Most shows at that time weren’t exactly special effects heavy with the exception of Star Trek: The Next Generation which was just getting ready to start its fourth season, and admittedly the special effects from that show that weren’t model-based had their own problems on occasion (and also didn’t involve trying to portray an man moving a supersonic speeds). But this has always been the problem with trying to do a live-action version of a comic book character with powers. Batman was one thing. Batman doesn’t have powers, he has gadgets. Almost everything in Batman could be handled easily with practical effects, but practical effects won’t make a man move at over 700 mph. So they did the best with what they had, but what they had wasn’t enough to really pull it off. Being so special effects heavy also led to a pretty high per episode budget which didn’t do the show any favors when the studio was deciding whether to keep it on.

"Should we keep sinking money into the show about the superhero or inflate Delta Burke for another season?"

“Should we keep sinking money into the show about the superhero or inflate Delta Burke for another season?”

In the end, The Flash suffered from a lot of issues. In an attempt to keep it from having to compete with the above-mentioned Cosby Show and Simpsons, the show was moved from time-slot to time-slot which is a pretty historic TV show death sentence. Even with the addition of some bigger names such as Mark Hamill (as the Trickster, which was pretty much the exact same character he’d use later for the Joker in the amazing 90s Batman cartoon) and David Cassidy it was not enough, and 22 episodes in, the show it was pulled. Could it have gotten better if given enough time? Maybe, but it would still have always had to deal with the price of special effects and a lack of a dedicated audience. People had loved Batman because it was something new, it was larger than life, and, despite being a “superhero” movie, wasn’t like what most people imagined when they thought of comic books, which, despite the 80s bringing us a much more adult version of comics, were still largely seen as for children. It wasn’t like today with the rise of nerd culture. Back then the only adults that read comics were weird shut-ins and man-children that lived in their parents’ basement. The new Flash series benefits from existing in a world where comics are mainstream. Unfortunately its predecessor didn’t have that kind of luck.

There is a reason this guy works in a comic book store.

There is a reason this guy works in a comic book store.

In my next post, in what I hope will be the beginning of an ongoing series, I want to do a detailed recap of the original pilot episode. I’m considering it more of a writing exercise than a review, and I’m still not sure whether I’m actually going to use it as a jumping off point to recap all 22 episodes of the original series, and possibly even the new series as well. Feel free to read along if that happens.

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Run, Barry, Run: The Flash (CW): Episode 1 (Not Entirely Spoiler Free)

Note: This post is a few days late due to my real job being particularly demanding over the last week. Also, if you would like to read a less rambling review of the episodes you can check out Anthony Schultz’s review over at F*ck You.


Let me preface this by saying that I’m aware that I will possibly never be fully satisfied by any movie or TV show version of The Flash. The Flash has been my favorite superhero for as long as I can remember. I would do just about anything to have superspeed and I have no doubts that it would take me less than five minutes after discovering my new abilities to start working on a costume and begin fighting crime. Because of this, and the obvious limitations of live-action media, I always have a nit to pick when it comes to stuff like this while at the same time feeling obligated to indulge it. I own and have seen every episode of the original Flash TV show that premiered just over 24 years ago. And in case you are wondering…no…it isn’t a very good show. The acting is barely passable, the special effects are more short-bus special than good special, and the writing left a lot to be desired (like good writing, for example). But because I’m a huge fan of The Flash I own it.


Seriously…this was a thing that happened.

A few years back they were discussing production of a Flash movie (not to be confused with the current talk of a Flash movie) and, despite being such a huge fan of the character, I was 100% against the idea. Given the state of most Hollywood movies at the time (and even now) I didn’t want them laying one cocaine stained finger on my hero less it end up like the Green Lantern movie that came out around the same time (which was maybe not as horrible a movie as everyone thought, but considering I didn’t actually finish the movie…and I very rarely will turn off a movie out of pure boredom…it wasn’t exactly a winner either).

I wanted to come up with a joke here, but I think the costume kind of does that for me.

I wanted to come up with a joke here, but I think the costume kind of does that for me.

So of course when I heard that The Flash was going to show up on CW’s Arrow and that that was going to serve as a lead in to a spin-off…I wasn’t too thrilled at first. At that point I had maybe watched 5 minutes of an episode of Arrow and wasn’t too impressed. Add to that CW’s habit of making seemingly vapid shows with subpar writing that are used to showcase groups of pretty people who I’ve always suspected are really just highly advanced Autons, and I was really not too happy. But I am a Flash fan so I kept track of the air date and sat down to watch the two episodes of Arrow that were to include the future face of my favorite fleet-footed fighter of…crime (dammit…so close…foes maybe? Fiendish foes? Yes!)


And against all my reservations and doubts…I actually enjoyed them. Now, I have a rule I try to live by (as much as I can bring myself to anyway). I try to give everything one shot. For superhero shows, or shows I feel should have promise, I try to give it 3-5 episodes to convince me. If a show can’t get itself working after that, even if it gets better in the second season, I’m already cashed in. It shouldn’t take a show a whole season to get good. So, having watched those two episodes, I decided to go ahead and go back to episode one of Arrow and give it a chance, and I have to admit that it really isn’t all that bad of a show. Yes some of the acting is problematic, but overall it is pretty decent and usually watchable. Granted, I haven’t fully caught up with Arrow (I’ve only watched the first eight episodes), but it did give me hope that maybe…just maybe…this new Flash show would work.

I still can't accept the seeming fact that someone as rich as Oliver Queen can't seem to afford enough shirts.

I still can’t accept the seeming fact that someone as rich as Oliver Queen can’t seem to afford to buy enough shirts.

So I just finished watching the premier episode of The Flash (I don’t have cable so I had to wait a day to watch it on the website) and I have to say, I’m pretty happy with it. I didn’t think it was perfect, I have my problems with it, but I didn’t have any trouble making it through the episode and I fully expect it to keep drawing me in. So of course now I need to discuss what I thought was wrong with it because this is the internet and I have a blog.

I don't even care that this picture doesn't make sense, I just love that it was one of the top Google Image choices under "internet blogger".

I don’t even care that this picture doesn’t make sense, I just love that it was one of the top Google Image choices under “internet blogger”.

I’ll start with Grant Gustin since he is playing the title character. When I first saw pictures of this guy I, like a lot of people, had issues. “He’s too scrawny. Why the hell doesn’t he have blond hair…Barry Allen has blond hair! Why does he look like he’s 12 years old?!” But I still wanted to try and reserve judgment (you know…beyond the judgement above because seriously…eat a damn sandwich, kid!) and give it a fair shake. Then pictures with the costume came out and I started to get a little nervous again.

"Okay, Grant. In this scene The Flash is chasing down the Weather Wizard when he decides to take him down with a little crop-dusting."

“Okay, Grant. In this scene The Flash is chasing down the Weather Wizard when he decides to take him down with a little crop-dusting action.”

Now, I realize it would be pretty difficult (and kind of goofy looking) to make a Flash costume for a live-action show that is true to the comic book. They tried in the 90’s Flash show and it looked kind of ridiculous.

Back then The Flash had to rely on some extra padding to protect him.

Like all scientists in the 90’s, Barry used to hit the gym religiously.

But even then, here they were showing us yet another dark, gritty costume with muted colors that looked kind of like a bondage outfit. But I was still going to give it a shot…I was just kind of nervous now that my heart would be broken once again.

And then I saw the aforementioned Arrow episodes and I was relieved by Mr. Gustin’s performance. My favorite thing about Barry Allen has always been that he is just a normal kind of guy but a little on the dorky side. I like that he isn’t some huge body builder superhero or super cool and smooth. Honestly, he was kind of always like the perfect dad character. The kind of guy that picks you up from school and tells you some stupid “dad joke” that is almost so painful that it could be used for “enhanced interrogation”, but then he takes you to get ice cream because you got picked on today and then you play catch in the yard for a little while even though he’s got a lot of stuff to do before the day is over. Just a really nice guy.

Maybe I have some slight daddy issues.

Maybe I have some slight daddy issues.

And that is what I like about Barry Allen. He’s good and honest and loyal and he really just cares. And Grant Gustin convinced me that he was that kind of guy. Yes he has the childhood trauma…but not in the way Batman does. It haunts him, but instead of dressing up like a bat and throwing sharp objects at criminals…it works to push him forward…to get better so he can help. I realize Batman helps people, but I don’t get the feeling that is at the top of his list of priorities when he puts on the costume. He does good as Bruce Wayne with his philanthropic work, but I still get the feeling his focus is more on punching the crime that killed his parents in the face rather than keeping possible future Bruce Waynes safe from going through what he went through. Yes the result is the same, but Barry seems to want to solve his mother’s murder (that isn’t a spoiler if you read the comics) for her and his father’s sake…not because it hurt him, even though it obviously did. You get the feeling it is more important to save his father than to fix the hurt he experienced. I don’t get that from Batman.

Granted there is a lot I don't get about Batman.

Granted…there is a lot I don’t get about Batman.

So I’m good with Grant Gustin. I think my only issue with him is that he spent the entire episode looking like he was going to start crying at any second. Even when he was legitimately happy his eyes looked watery. It wasn’t terrible but it was a little distracting. But beyond his perpetually weepy face, he did good, and I think he can grow with the role well.

Moving on to our supporting cast. I was okay with Candice Patton as Iris West. I was actually surprised I didn’t see the explosion of nerd-racism that normally comes with casting an African American actor in a “traditionally” white role. Apparently either Flash fans are less racist or there aren’t as many Flash fans as I thought (or I just managed to somehow miss the outrage over the last few months). My only issue with her is that she is just kind of there. She’s a fairly typical WB/CW actress. She’s attractive…but there just doesn’t seem to be much to her. She isn’t a bad actress, and she seemed engaged in the role, but I never was really all that excited when I saw her on screen. Maybe that’ll change, but for now she’s just kind of an “meh” character.

Definitely easy on the eyes however.

Definitely easy on the eyes however.

Jesse L. Martin as Detective West however was pretty good. Despite the fact that they seem to have just made up the character for the show to kind of shoe-horn a non-romantic long-term relationship between Barry and Iris, he is a good character. In the comics this character’s role is played by Captain Darryl Frye who is the one that takes Barry in and raises him like his own. I’m not entirely sure why they didn’t go with this since they pulled so much else from the New 52 version of The Flash, but whatever. I’m not sure how I feel about (SPOILERS) him knowing Barry’s secret right from the start, but I can deal.


The S.T.A.R. Labs crew is honestly the only real weak spot of the first episodes. I wasn’t too impressed with Tom Cavanagh as Dr. Wells. His delivery was a little awkward and I just never really believed what he was trying to convey. Same thing goes for Danielle Panabaker as Dr. Snow. She spends a bit of time trying (a little unsuccessfully) to portray an embittered scientist who has just lost her fiance and her job, and her face doesn’t seem to do “shock and awe” very well when it comes to her character’s reactions to what Barry can do. And lastly we have Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon. Why does every show need this character nowadays? Why does there always have to be the “whoa, cool!” character that is supposed to be this super young genius but who comes across as a long-haired stoner who should be on a never-ending quest for Cheetos rather than building high-tech uniforms and communication devices. I’ve always barely tolerated this character type and I can’t say I’m too happy to see it here either.

Get a haircut you damn Hippie!

Get a haircut you damn Hippie!

Add to that the fact that I’m not entirely sure why they are necessary at all. In the comics Barry Allen is an accomplished scientist in his own right. In this version he is also incredibly smart, but in the comics it was Barry that made his own costume and he didn’t need a team of scientists to help him figure out what happened to him. Even if you wanted to keep the element of the particle accelerator being the ultimate cause of his powers, this would still be something that Barry could eventually figure out on his own without having Dr. Exposition and his Science Groupies to lay it out for him. That might even add a nice little mystery that Barry needs to work to figure out over the course of the first season. Instead, because apparently the creators of Arrow (and by extension The Flash) like to do ensemble shows, we get three pretty unnecessary characters. Maybe my opinion of them will change, and maybe once I know what the hell is up with (SPOILERS) Dr. Wells’s magically time-traveling newspaper it’ll make more sense as to why he is so off-putting.



Lastly we have a cameo by John Wesley Shipp playing Barry’s father Henry Allen. For those who don’t know, Mr. Shipp took his turn playing Barry Allen in the original Flash show, and while I will give him crap for his portrayal of the character 24 years ago, I thought this was a nice little bit of fan service, and he really did an okay job here, but seriously…the man has aged a little rough.


And now we get to the special effects. This is honestly the hardest part of The Flash because The Flash can do some really visually amazing things. In a comic this is easy…you just draw super cool crap. Even in a cartoon version you can do incredible things with a character that has powers. But despite the leaps and bounds of digital effects, there are still some things we can’t manage, even with a good budget. Having said that, the effects in this episode are pretty damn good. Honestly the only part I had an issues with is a very brief moment during Barry’s first test run with the S.T.A.R. Labs team when it kind of slows down a little and he does this weird jump thing and it is very obviously a CGI Grant Gustin. It looks odd and more than a little disturbing. Fortunately it only lasts for a second and then it is gone, taking only the smallest part of all our souls along with it to the deep hell pit it came from.

The Flash's little known ability to transform into a horribly disproportional digital marionette.

The Flash’s little known ability to transform into a horribly disproportional digital marionette.

Other than that (and the kind of fakey look of future Weather Wizard’s magical fog machine) the special effects were pretty impressive for a TV show. Of course we’ll have to see if they can keep this up. Effects heavy shows always have a hard time maintaining consistent effects levels as they have to contend with their per episode budget. That is why you get episodes of Star Trek where they have some weird power outage and no one can leave the ship…or two of the actors are stuck in a cave on some barren planet. That is how a show traditionally recoups some of its money after they have an episode where they pull out all the stops with the CGI the week before. The problem is that the only thing that separates Barry “The Flash” Allen from Barry “The Crime Lab Analyst” Allen are those special effects. So we’ll see how that goes.

Episode 10 - Barry temporarily loses his powers and we catch every gritty moment of him trying to catch buses.

Episode 10 – Barry temporarily loses his powers and we catch every gritty moment of him trying to catch buses.

So far it has been a fairly positive, and I’d have to say out of 10, accounting for my fandom bias, I’d probably give this episode a 7 or 8 on its own. But I did have a few problems with the story itself and frankly this is something I have a problem with with most modern shows. This episode, much like the other brand new DC comics related production Gotham, just went too damn fast even for The Flash (see what I did there?). I get it…establishing a superhero show is hard. Superhero movies and shows in general tend to suffer from backstory weigh-down. Superheroes as a rule are chock full of all manner of continuity and backstory and trying to convey that in a one hour episodes or even a full-length movie is a tough slog. That is why what Marvel did was so brilliant. They used the first movies of their main heroes to get that stuff out of the way and then they were free to use the sequels and the Avengers movie to really give us something awesome.

In general the first episode of The Flash didn’t do too bad a job handling this. They introduced the childhood trauma and then got us right into the story with convenient exposition drops fitting pretty well into the conversation. Still, I just felt like they got us from dopey, perpetually late Barry Allen to Scarlet Speedster way too fast. They could have drawn everything out between two episodes and it would have worked just as well and wouldn’t have felt as rushed. Instead it takes us a whopping 12 minutes to get from zero to lab accident and only 6 minutes after that for him to start using his powers to actually do stuff (of course, having said that, the original Flash show actually also had the lab accident 12 minutes in with the first display of actual powers 22 minutes in so maybe it is a Flash thing). I’m not saying they need to spend a whole episode just focusing on character development like they did in the old days, but seriously…what’s the hurry?



Is this a result of so many shows getting cancelled before they make it past their first season? Is this an attempt to try and cram so much story in to such a short amount of time before the network can decide they don’t want to keep it going? I just don’t like feeling like a show is an over-energetic five year old trying to tell you a story and constantly rushing from one part of the story to the next without taking a breath. Maybe I’m wrong…it happens a lot. Maybe this wasn’t too much too soon. But sometimes doing this makes me wonder what the show will have left to work with by the end of the first season…or after four or five seasons. Do we just not expect shows to last that long anymore? I turn to Gotham for a great example of this. The third episode of that show also came out this week and (SPOILERS) the Penguin, who left Gotham in the first episode and was told by Gordon to never come back…is already back. Why not leave him gone for the entire season, showing him slowly building power and working the angles until finally…now in control of his own gang he comes strolling in at the end of the first season to start kicking some ass? Why does he have to do this from Gotham on the DL? Especially considering that he was only gone a couple days maybe a week and everyone seems to know who he is/was. I just don’t see why they can’t slow it down and take their time, but then again I can’t afford the quality coke-laced hookers that TV producers can…so maybe I’m not qualified for this discussion.

The speedo cost extra.

The speedo cost extra.

The only other issue I had, and it isn’t so much of an issue as a point of confusion, was the brief introduction of Barry’s magic CSI analysis powers. At the beginning of  the episode Barry shows up at the scene of a bank robbery/homicide and begins looking around the crime scene. At one point he gets down on his stomach to look at some car tire tracks and you get a visual effect where you can “see” what he sees regarding the front tire tread width being narrower than the rear tire which lead him to being able to ID the car used in the robbery/homicide. They use this effect a lot in the BBC’s new version of Sherlock Homes to give a visual representation of his powers of observation and it is actually a pretty neat visual effect. Now, I think shows have started to overuse this effect and it is becoming a little banal, but it is still kind of neat. My problem wasn’t really that they used it, it is that they used it for a second at the beginning of the episode and then never used it again. Why introduce an aspect of Barry’s personality and then ignore it for the rest of the episode? Why not use it when Barry is trying to figure out how to stop Weather Wizard’s tornado? That would have been the perfect place for it. Instead it just feels like they forgot about it and it makes it seem even more odd that it was used at all in the first place.

This isn't a superpower...it's the result of an unfortunate degenerative eye disease.

This isn’t a superpower…it’s the result of an unfortunate degenerative eye disease.

Overall though it was a pretty good episode. I will probably watch the pilot again and I will definitely be tuning in next week to see what happens next. Gotham on the other hand has two more episodes to convince me.

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С Новым Годом!

С наступающим! Желаю всем друзьям, родственникам и читателям этого блога удачи, успеха, счастья и здоровья в новом 2014-ом году!

Happy New Year! I wish all my friends, relatives, and readers luck, success, happiness, and health in 2014!

There is literally nothing that is not cool about this picture.

There is literally nothing that is not awesome about this picture.

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The Futility of Blog Writing (When You Have Nothing to Say and No Time to Say it In)

As I was going through my day today I decided to stop in at the good old WordPress because it struck me that I hadn’t done anything with my “blog” (quotes because it is hard for me to even justifiably call this thing a blog) in a good seven months. As I was reading through my old posts I realized that I’ve had this blog for just over two years now, and I have a grand total of ten posts spanning said two years which is, needless to say, kind of sad. I realize that part of the problem is that I just don’t have that much time to devote to posting. I work a full-time (plus) job which requires a lot of attention in my “off time”. Even when I’m not doing something related to my job, I’m usually so tired/brain-dead by the end of the day that the last thing I want to do is write something that will require me to think.

"I can go use the restroom or continue to breath...but I don't have the brain-power to do both."

“I can go use the restroom or continue to breath…but I don’t have the brain-power to do both.”

Add to that the fact that, while the blog itself doesn’t take too long to write…editing and adding pictures/captions usually makes it a process which spans a few hours, which isn’t always worth a few pages of what is essentially bathroom humor and half-formed rantings (or insanely long digressions to make a point).

"What was I talking about?"

“What was I talking about?”

Then there is the plain simple truth that I really don’t have much to say. I’m a pretty simple (ie lazy) person so it usually takes something gnawing at my brain for me to give enough craps to actually take the few hours to compose one of these entries…and craps are hard to come by in my day-to-day existence.

"There's one! Oh...nope...just more apathy...."

“There’s one! Oh…nope…just more apathy….”

So the question begs to be asked: Why continue to post to a blog when you don’t have the time and you don’t have much to write in the first place? Then there is the fact that this isn’t exactly a well trafficked blog. Whether that is because of a lack of exposure or interest, the fact remains that I have only 1,394 all time views and 11 comments. So why keep it up?

thats what she said

Wait…what does that even mean?

But I’ll admit, there is some appeal to the idea. To know that, even though it is only a small number, someone is reading this (or at least opening the page enough to register an entry). While I don’t think I have much of an ego, I have enough of one to kind of like that idea. Of course, for the most part I have no idea whether those views are from people who enjoyed what I wrote (very few of my entries have any likes and, as I said, I’ve only received 11 comments). It is possible they read an entry, decided they had no interest in how bad a parent Batman is and clicked off and will never look at my blog again. It is possible that they read a few entries and those entries just didn’t elicit a strong enough emotion to even click the “like” button. Whatever the reason, admittedly it is kind of discouraging to see such a poor response to your work and still retain the desire to continue doing said work.

"Dammit...I did all this 'could-ing' for 10 views?!"

“Dammit…I did all this ‘could-ing’ for 10 views?!”

So now the question is: Who am I doing this for? I honestly never expected anyone to read this blog. I am that guy you’ve heard of who has a whopping nine friends on Facebook (only two of whom aren’t related to me), and even though I post these entries on FB, my friends (ie relatives) tend to not really pass on stuff I post, so my audience is relatively small to begin with. So honestly I’m actually kind of amazed by having had THAT many people read my blog in the first place.

"Two more views! Time to celebrate!"

“Two more views! Time to celebrate!”

So I guess the original reason I started this blog is because I enjoy writing occasionally, and it can sometimes be therapeutic. I get a lot of stuff lodged in my brain sometimes, and sometimes writing is the only way to get it out (and sometimes it helps me form the thought in the first place, taking it from a nebulous concept into a full-blown idea).

"Okay seriously...that's ridiculous."

“Okay seriously…that’s ridiculous.”

If that is truly the case (and if I truly still just enjoy writing in this blog for the sake of writing) then not only is it not futile to keep writing, but it also doesn’t matter if I don’t write that often. And unlike doing something like writing in a journal, there is still the chance that SOMEONE will read this, which kind of makes it a little more enjoyable. Admittedly it would be more enjoyable if people would post a comment, maybe start a discussion (or an argument), become involved in a little discourse, but it would seem this blog doesn’t drive that kind of reaction, so I’m not going to really hold my breath.

So, the conclusion I guess is that this blog won’t be going anywhere…both in the sense that I won’t be abandoning it, and it won’t really become much more than it is now. If you do read this however, and you feel compelled to do so, I would be glad for a comment or two, even if it is a comment to tell me I’m not really cut out to be a “blogger”.

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The Issue of the “Racist-Nerd”

I just finished reading the Cracked article The 5 Most Insulting Defenses of Nerd Racism (by the way, if you aren’t like me and aren’t for some reason addicted to reading Cracked every day [they usually come out with three to five new articles every day] you need to check that $#!+ out). It wasn’t the best article from Cracked I’ve ever read, but it did bring up an interesting phenomenon that is really prevalent on the internet.

No, not porn.

No, not porn.

I’m not going to go into detail on the article (I’ve linked to it above so you can read it yourself there), but the basic idea revolves around the fact that Michael B. Jordan (an African American) is being considered to play the character of Johnny “The Human Torch” Storm (a traditionally Caucasian [Caucasian as in “of European heritage” rather than a person from the Caucasus region] character) in the possible upcoming Fantastic Four reboot. This has apparently caused comic book nerds to lose their collective $#!+ and this is far from the first time the suggestion (or actual case) of casting a black person in the role of a “white character” has caused a online hissy-fit. It actually is pretty common.

Almost as common as porn.

Almost as common as porn.

As the Cracked article points out, most online commenters claim they aren’t upset because of the race issue, but because they don’t want people changing the way the characters were always portrayed (comic book nerds are traditionally against anything that alters the source material, unless it is something that happens to give them a bigger nerd-boner than what was originally in the comic), but then unfortunately go on to only discuss it in terms of race. So it isn’t about race, but it is TOTALLY about race.



Now the article is pretty one sided (they are, after all, trying to make a very specific point) and doesn’t go into other reason someone might be pissed about the change. Let’s face it, comic book fans have had to put up with decades of Hollywood changing things to catch a wider audience and, as a traditionalist myself, when it comes to comic books, I admit it really ticks me off too. If I like a comic book, I want to see the comic book only big, live-action, and on the movie screen. I don’t want to see the director’s “vision” of the comic. And more often than not, what we get at the theater is pretty damn crappy.

I'm looking at you Ghost-Rider...and Daredevil...and Spider-Man 3...and...

I’m looking at you Ghost-Rider…and Daredevil…and Spider-Man 3…and…

But thinking about it, it doesn’t really bother me that they might want to make an iconic white character black (I’m mostly more disappointed by the idea that they are rebooting a franchise that sucked and honestly wasn’t that great of a comic book either). Could I handle a black Johnny Storm…yeah…why not? If I could stomach even watching a FF movie I don’t think it would ruin it for me if The Human Torch happened to be black. I’ll admit when I watched the first FF movie in 2005 it bugged me that they cast Jessica Alba as Sue Storm, not really because she of Mexican heritage on her father’s side, but because Jessica Alba is a horrible actress and to add to the whole thing they tried to make her as “white” as they could by trying to make her hair as blond as possible and even giving her blue contacts and it just looked ridiculous.

Pictured here: ridiculous.

Pictured here: ridiculous.

I mean, if you want Jessica Alba, get Jessica Alba, don’t get Jessica Alba’s deluded clone who can’t accept her Mexican heritage and feels the need to “white” herself up. I lived in Texas for 22 years and I’ve met my fair share of woman like that, and it is never not ridiculous.

Pictured here: less-ridiculous-but-horrible-actress.

Pictured here: less-ridiculous-but-horrible-actress.

So are the commenters referenced in the Cracked article racist? Maybe. Probably. But it is also possible they are pissed off for another reason and are just not eloquent enough to explain exactly why without boiling it down to race.

So after I read the article, I couldn’t help myself and scrolled down to the comments section of the Cracked article. As a rule I try desperately to never read comments (except mine of course) because many a hateful and stupid person can now easily access a computer with internet access and manage to hammer at the keyboard enough to form some semblance of English to convey that hate and stupidity, and there are enough things in my life that make me angry. I don’t need to go out of my way to find them. But this was one of those instances when I couldn’t help myself. Oddly enough I was surprised that the comments, at least what I saw of them, weren’t all that terrible and I found one that I think more-or-less summed up why it bothers me when movies plug a black actor in a “white” role.

I'm not sure why I bothered to keep how many likes he had...

I’m not sure why I bothered to keep how many likes he had…

I agreed with it enough to have the energy to actually submit a reply:

...but dammit I'm annoyed I didn't get any.

…but dammit I’m annoyed I didn’t get any.

But I wanted to expand on the idea a little bit. I really do think it is kind of cowardly of Hollywood to try and do this kind of thing. First, I do fully think that they are doing this just because they want to try and show that they are “progressive” and “modern” not because they feel they can tell a better story if Johnny is black. And I also think it is cowardly for them to pick a supporting character like Johnny. I would genuinely like to see a FF movie with a black Mr. Fantastic, as long as they didn’t alter his character with the aforementioned “stereotypes” and kept him a super genius scientist/inventor. But that might be too much for Hollywood. After all, then they’d have to deal with an interracial couple in their movie as well (assuming they left Sue white). And while it is true that they have dealt with this subject before, it seems like even today having an interracial couple on the big screen is still something of a sensitive subject (just as it is still something of a sensitive subject in certain parts of the country). For the most part when you see a movie with an interracial couple they play up that fact as the subject of the film rather than as just something that happens to be the case. There is always some kind of conflict about the fact that they aren’t the same race. You really don’t see movies where you have a black character and a white character in a relationship where their race difference ISN’T an issue. And so we end up with the safe bet of Johnny Storm being black because that is an easier sell, far easier than a super-genius scientist/inventor who is black. That is my problem with this whole idea. Not because there would be a black Johnny Storm, but because he’d just be there so that the studio can try and draw a wider audience and pat themselves on the back for the good job of being so “forward thinking”. So Hollywood, I challenge you to make a black Mr. Fantastic or a black Spider-Man, or a black whatever superhero, but do it because you think it would be an interesting dynamic change of pace for the story, not because you think it would get some black people into the theaters or because it might be “edgy”.

Artist's rendering of a black Spider-Man.

Artist’s rendering of a black Spider-Man.

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С наступающим новым годом! (Happy upcoming new year!)

As has come up before, I am studying Russian (though admittedly not as successfully as I would like). I’ve had a longtime fascination with/affection for the Russian people and their culture. This fascination has probably existed for the majority of my life, but my earliest memory that such a fascination actually existed was in 1990 when my dad took me to the movies to go see The Hunt for Red October. If you haven’t seen this movie…please stop reading this and immediately bring it in from Netflix, or hell, just buy it! I think everyone should see it at least once, frankly, but especially anyone who likes (or is otherwise interested in) Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Tim Curry, Sam Neill, James Earl Jones, military dramas, the late cold war tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, or the Jack Ryan series. It was actually a great experience over all because my dad rarely did much with me individually, so him taking me alone to go see a movie was special treat. But yeah…the movie is also super awesome.


But somehow it could have been so much better.

But the point is, I came out of this movie wondering about these people and this culture and that has driven my studies ever since. When I got to High School and was looking for a foreign language to take, I really didn’t want to go with one of the big three (Spanish, German, and French) and it just so happened that they started offering Japanese that year. That didn’t work out because I missed a lot of school that year (and in the end I didn’t have enough of an interest in Japanese). And then, fortunately, the very next year they started offering Russian. I jumped on it and that was it for me. It further fueled my studies of the people and culture because quite honestly you CAN’T learn a foreign language without learning something about the people who speak it, or the culture of those people, since a language develops concurrently with culture.

The funny thing is, despite the decades of conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union (and sadly which still extends into today with the Russian Federation), the Russian people aren’t terribly dissimilar to Americans. Granted, there are a lot of cultural differences, but there are some surprising similarities too.


Like our very similar affection for dance crazes.

Russians got to Christianity kind of late in the game, but once they did they grabbed onto it with gusto. After the Soviet Union was firmly in place, religion pretty much was systematically eliminated. But once something is so ingrained into the cultural identity, it is kind of hard to get rid of it. More often than not it is just easier to replace it with something else that is similar (this is pretty much the reason Christmas is celebrated when it is in the first place, taking the place of the popular Winter Solstice celebrations that already existed). In that vein, the Soviet government decided rather than fight against the Christmas holiday the Russian people still wanted to celebrate, they would simply “de-religion” it.

sexy santa

You know…more than Americans already have….

Enter New Year’s! Think about it, New Year’s Eve/Day is just a week later than Christmas Eve/Day, it is already a day of massive celebration where family and friends get together to feel all sorts of happy and good about everything (or be horribly depressed about everything).


Never, NEVER tell your mother about this!

This is why during the years of the Soviet Union you saw a New Year’s that involved decorating a fir tree with standard “Christmas” lights and ornaments, exchanging gifts, and getting your drink on.


Granted, that last one isn’t so much a Christmas tradition as a Russian tradition.

This tradition then became so ingrained in Russian culture that they still celebrate it in this way today (though with the resurgence of Russian Orthodox Christianity in the country, they also celebrate Christmas as well, both modern and orthodox…but this is a discussion for another post).

Russian Veterans Celebrate Victory Day 2012.

So many more days to be harrassed by old men, URA!

To see a great example of this, one needs only to watch the traditional Russian New Year’s movie “Ирония судьбы, или С лёгким паром!” (Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath!). This is hands down the best example of traditional Soviet style New Year’s celebration (considering that it takes place on New Year’s Eve/Day), so much so that, much like “It’s a Wonderful Life”, the Russians air it every single year. In fact, Первый канал (Channel One) is showing it today, just like they did last year (and probably will next year).

This is another movie I would highly recommend watching if you have any interest in Russian culture or language. Without giving too many spoilers, it revolves around another Soviet New Year’s tradition of going to the bath house/sauna on New Year’s Eve in order to встречать Новый год (meet the New Year) nice and fresh and clean.


Alternatively as a good opportunity to do some quality nude kickboxing.

So in “Ирония судьбы” you have a group of friends who go to the bath house as part of their New Year’s tradition (where the alternate title of “С лёгким паром/Enjoy Your Bath!” comes from…more on this in a second). While there, the friends toast the upcoming marriage of the main male character Zhenya, and, in (stereo)typical Russian fashion, get a little too into it. Unfortunately, Zhenya and one of the other friends, Pavlik, get drunk to the point of passing out. The other two friends, while severely drunk, are still conscious, and vaguely remember that one of the other two, either Pavlik or Zhenya, is supposed to be catching a flight to Leningrad (modern St. Petersburg). Through a conversation that contains a level of logic usually possessed only by frat boys trying to figure out how far they would have to drive to get a pizza at two in the morning, and whether or not any of them are capable of such a Herculean feat, the two friends decide that it is in fact Zhenya that needs to catch the flight to meet his future bride in Leningrad, and so they make sure he gets to his flight.


No, no, no…I’m TOTALLY good to drive…and we NEED that pizza!

 The movie also plays on a standard joke about Soviet era construction that leads to expected hijinks. It really is a pretty good movie (though it is very very long and, like most Russian movies, possesses a truly depressing ending when you stop and think about it).


More depressing even than that stunning outfit.

Okay, so real quick, a note on Russian language construction as it relates to holidays. In the title of this post I said “С наступающим новым годом!” which I translated as “Happy upcoming new year!”. Translated literally it is actually “With the upcoming new year”. The full sentence used for holidays is “Я поздравляю вас с наступающим новым годом!” (Literally “I congratulate/felicitate you with the upcoming new year!”). Because another cultural aspect Americans and Russians have in common is that we are both too lazy to say anymore than we absolutely have to, they shorten it to just “С наступающим новым годом!”, or sometimes just “С наступающим!”. You will see this with every celebration in Russia (С Рождеством!/Merry Christmas, С днем рождения/Happy Birthday, С днем Космонавтики/Happy Cosmonautics/Cosmonaught Day!). That is why “С лёгким паром!” is translated as “Enjoy your bath!” Okay, not exactly. Literally translated it means “With light steam!” or working from the long form “I congratulate/felicitate you with light steam!”. I’m not going to get into the origin of this because frankly it’ll take too long, but the end idea is that it is a reference to the light steam in the sauna…so that is ultimately why it is translated as “Enjoy your bath!”.


Admittedly I have no good excuse for including this picture….

So, С наступающим новым годом всех, and please enjoy yourself by sitting down to a viewing of “Irony of Fate” with a bowl of салат «Оливье» (“Olivier” Salad, which hopefully I’ll have a separate post about later) and meet the New Year with your friends and loved ones, и я желаю вам всем всего хорошего (and I wish for you all, all the best) in the new year!

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