Category Archives: Primetime Series

iReview | THE FLASH (Classic Series) – Episode 16 “Deadly Nightshade”

Heading into the 30th Anniversary of “The Classic” television series The Flash ventured into primetime superhero territory and proved that thrilling storytelling along with special effects yielding a legacy worth reexamining.

It’s nearly impossible now to imagine a primetime landscape that doesn’t encompass a series based on a superhero property or fantasy fiction. The CW relies on an entire interconnected “Arrowverse” that features many of DC Comics most prominent players, including The Flash. Just wrapping up its Fifth Season after celebrating a 100th episode and venturing into the crossover epic “Elseworlds”, Grant Gustin has protected Central City as its greatest hero, but recently ran into his 1990 alter-ego The Flash of Earth-90, 1990 that is.

On the heels of the success of Tim Burton’s Batman WB sought avenues to get many of its other DC properties off the ground, including a primetime hour-long live-action series based on one of its most enduring commodities. The Flash starred John Wesley Shipp and premiered on CBS in 1990, and took on a darker and more muscled up approach to the retelling of the superhero’s origin story. CSI investigator Barry Allen (Shipp) was expectedly struck by lightning and given his super speed, but he didn’t immediately run head first into the role as his city’s defender.

Though he’s returned to form in several incarnations on the 2014 reboot of The Flash, as Henry Allen, the “Golden Age” Flash/Jay Garrick, Shipp most recently suited up to bring his 1990 Flash, the Barry Allen of Earth-90 into the multiverse of the “Arrowverse”. A new threat is coming, a potential crisis that will test the mettle of our heroes — The Monitor has foreseen it, and he’s deemed our heroes worthy. The Flash of Earth-90 traversed the multiverse to warn his Earth-1 counterparts about The Monitor’s plan, but was “folded” away before he could join the fight.

John Wesley Shipp starred as The Flash in his CBS primetime series that premiered on September 20, 1990, almost 30 years ago, and ran for one season with total of 22 episodes. A critical hit, developed by Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo the series was for its time the most expensive live action series in production at WB, and just became a challenge to sustain; the network also kept moving the show’s dedicated time slot around. That made it a bit of a challenge for The Flash to maintain its audience. Ultimately the show was cancelled. The final episode aired on May 18, 1991.

Case File: “Deadly Nightshade”

In the 16th episode of the season, the socialite granddaughter of a wealthy publishing mogul, Felicia Kane (played by Jeri Ryan) is being held for ransom by an urban radical militia. While in the midst of negotiating her release with the Central City Police Department, the group’s hideout is attacked by a masked gunman using the name and the M.O. of the 50s era vigilante known as “Deadly Nightshade”. As the salvo of gunfire is heard on the police phone, CSI investigator Barry Allen (John Wesley Shipp) listens closely as Julio Mendez determines the location of the lair.

With the room momentarily distracted, Allen takes the opportunity to race to the scene of the crime in his alter ego as the Scarlet Speedster, The Flash. He arrives in time to survey the carnage and finds Ms. Kane is shock. Later, Rebecca Frost (Denise Crosby) a psychologist, determines that the actions of vigilantes, like Deadly Nightshade and The Flash are to blame for the rise in crimes and the victims, like Ms. Kane, get caught in the crossfire. Frost’s supervisor is Dr. Desmond Powell (Jason Bernard) and like Barry, he doesn’t necessarily agree with the good doctor’s assessment.

Powell has a unique insight into the matter; he was the original vigilante known as the Deadly Nightshade and doesn’t take it kindly to the threat of an imposter, Curtis Bohannan (Richard Burgi) who is determined to carry out his own vendetta. Bohannan intends on assuming the secret identity of Central City’s only hero and her intends on wearing a suit of armor to exact his form of justice. If he can take down The Flash, he will become unstoppable! The Flash and Powell team up, once again, to stop their common foe.

Best Parts

In classic comic-book fashion, the episode presents the brave and the bold pairing of the contemporary super speedster teaming up with his “Golden Age” mentor. Barry Allen first meets Desmond Powell’s alter ego in the episode “Ghost in the Machine” establishing that The Flash wasn’t Central City’s first costumed hero. Barry reveals his secret identity to Desmond in this adventure, suggesting that the two would have crossed paths again. Powell’s vigilante Deadly Nightshade appears to be pattered after an amalgamation of Golden Age DC Comics heroes.

The episode also begins to point in the direction that The Flash is being perceived as a “hero” — a crime fighter —  working alongside the CCPD, and is not the danger that Rebecca Frost suggests, but someone that might inspire hope. Shipp has often eluded to the dynamic changes his costume went through during the season, and it is most evident in this episode that certain modifications to the suit were made to make it appear more streamlined and proportioned to Shipp’s own physique. There’s even a scene where The Flash pulls the cowl back while in Powell secret hideout.

Besides spotlighting two Star Trek alumni; Denise Crosby and Jeri Ryan both make impressionable appearances in this episode, “Deadly Nightshade” reveals how much promise and potential there was in The Flash and the possibilities that might have been had the series gotten a Second Season. When The Flash of Earth-90 appears in the prologue to this past season’s crossover event “Elseworlds” he is the last man standing in what might have been an epic confrontation, but the battlefield is covered with costumed characters — a league that may have been in a Season 2.

John Wesley Shipp reprising his role as The Flash of Earth-90 in this season’s crossover event “Elseworlds”.

The Flash (Classic Series) | “Deadly Nightshade” (Season 1 | Episode 16) starring John Wesley Shipp, Amanda Pays and Alex Désert directed by Bruce Bilson written by John Francis Moore & Howard Chaykin and guest starring Jason Bernard with Richard Burgi and Denise Crosby. [Original Airdate: March 28, 1991]

The Flash (Classic Series) is available on the DC Universe subscription service and also on iTunes.

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iReview | DC Universe’s TITANS S1:E8 “Donna Troy”

Dick Grayson is still off in search of something and it leads him to seek the console of a longtime friend and one-time fellow sidekick in the latest episode of TITANS.

Enter Wonder Girl! Just when you think that the DC Universe Original Series Titans couldn’t get any better, it does! The premiere season has mostly focused on the mystery surrounding an apparently supernaturally charged Rachel Roth (played by Teagan Croft) who finds herself on the run and under the watchful eye of beat detective Dick Grayson (series regular Brenton Thwaites) who is battling his own demons, especially since striking out on his own away from the mean streets of Gotham City.

Rachel or “Raven” has also attracted the attentions of a fire-starter named Koriand’r or Kory Anders (Anna Diop) and made an indelible impression on Beast Boy, Garfield Logan (Ryan Potter) a misfit among outcasts, who has now found himself a new family. It isn’t long before the quartet learn of Grayson’s alter-ego; Robin the boy wonder and one-half of the Dynamic Duo that includes the near-mythic Batman. Once again evading their captured, the four friends help in locating and freeing Rachel’s real mom, Angela (guest star Rachel Nichols) from an asylum and are again trying to pull things together.

That’s just the short of it, as the season of Titans based on the DC characters made famous by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez is not only proving “must see” DCTV, but is perhaps one of the best adaptations ever of a comic book series to live-action. Rescued from the constraints of commercial television network, deputing on the DC Universe subscriber service, Titans may have profoundly altered the way consumers digest their entertainment.  With new episodes released every Friday, Titans has put the DC Universe app on the map!

Conor Leslie joins the cast of “Titans” as Wonder Girl, Donna Troy.

She’s a Wonder!

On the latest episode of the series appropriately entitled “Donna Troy” Dick leaves the rest of the group in the hands of Kory. Now that Angela has offered Rachel and the rest of the group a home, it appears that Grayson can take care of some loose ends — namely what to do with himself, especially now that he’s been replaced as “Robin”. Dick seeks the advice of his dear friend, Donna Troy perfectly played by Conor Leslie. Even with the above title intro that establishes the two “sidekicks” have been friends for years, the chemistry between Dick and Donna is ideal.

Donna immediately takes to Dick’s arrival and invites him to her latest photo gallery opening; she’s aware of Dick’s uncomfortable ability to casually engage and hopes the party will break him out of his shell. It isn’t long before the pair find themselves taking on a criminal animal poacher, unfortunately Dick’s impulsively cavalier intersection may have complicated Donna’s scheme to bring down the entire organization, but it is incredibly gratifying to see these two characters interacting in the flesh and in such an authentic way.

Back at Donna’s apartment the pair recount their evening and Donna comes across the cryptic writing he found on the walls of Kory’s storage unit. Donna is able to translate some of it after identifying it as a type of ancient Sumerian writing. If Donna interprets the message correctly it identifies Kory as the “Starfire” sent to secure the “Raven” — secure or rather, kill the Raven! Dick and Donna are now making haste to rendezvous with the rest of the group which has made it to Angela’s farm in Ohio, just as Rachel taps into Kory’s memories unleashing her fury! 

The “Original” Titans

With a shared history that extends more than 75 years, the sidekicks of the Silver Age heroes established an entirely new fraternity for themselves, but Robin, Kid Flash, Speedy and Aqualad would soon find their lives upended with the induction of Wonder Girl into their ranks. Dick Grayson and Donna Troy immediately take a unique liking to one another, even as the rest of the boys vie for their new recruit’s affections. Robin and Wonder Girl have the unique shared experience of being the wards of two of the “big three”.

Dick Grayson comes to live with Bruce Wayne after his family is murdered in a mob hit on Haley’s Circus. The young boy’s world is shattered and Wayne takes to tempering Dick’s rage and turns him into his partner, Robin the Boy Wonder. As a baby, Donna is rescued from a house fire by Wonder Woman and takes the orphan to her paradise island, where she is raised as an Amazon and soon proves herself as gifted by the gods as her sister. Donna decides to return to Man’s World and fight alongside Diana.

In the episode of Titans the pair shared adventures together and also with their mentors. After a caper that pitted Batman and Robin against the Joker, he returns home to find Donna waiting. Dick confides in Donna and feels validated by her understanding. Clearly they had continued to work together and were perhaps part of an “original” team of teenage Titans. Now as adults, Dick has retired his alter-ego, unable to complement the dual-nature of his vigilantism; Donna admits she still has her uniform hanging in the closet.

Dick and Donna are back in the latest episode of Titans and appear as formidable as ever.

Titans new episodes premiere every Friday on the DC Universe subscription service.

This Season | AMERICAN HORROR STORY Brings the “Apocalypse”

It’s the end of the world! Time for a new season of television’s most daringly disturbing hit when American Horror Story returns for Season 8 it will (possibly) tie-up every loose end over the series mythology!

With every passing season of the hit anthology series American Horror Story the narrative has shifted and repurposed to address a particular social anxiety or deep ingrained fear. That was on display front and center in last season’s “Cult” which took the nation’s post-election woes and bared them naked into perhaps one of the series’ most intricately complex and frightening arcs yet, inspiring a splattering of Emmy-nominations and several other accolades. With the newest installment, it appears that all hell has broken loose.

Series creator Ryan Murphy has expertly taken to social networking to tease the overall theme and direction that Season 8 would be taking, and with the release of the Official Trailer, audiences get there first glimpse at the dark times ahead on American Horror Story: Apocalypse.

The trailer suggests that following the events of Season 7’s “Cult” the world has been torn asunder and it truly has heralded the “end of days”. Most of the series ensemble players will be returning, including some favorites from the show’s inaugural introduction “Murder House”. In fact “Apocalypse” may illustrate best the links of convergence that unite all these anthology tales of terror!

The new season of American Horror Story: Apocalypse returns to FX on Wed, Sept. 12.

This Season | THE FLASH Season Five Family Values

The Flash Family welcomes a new speedster, but exactly what does it mean for Team Flash and especially Barry and Iris when the arrival of their “future daughter” opens up a whole new box of crazy in Season 5 of THE FLASH!

Congratulations! It’s a girl! Leave it to superheroes, not withstanding all the labor pains and all, the cliffhanger of Season 4’s The Flash revealed that newlyweds Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris (Candice Patton) had been stalked all year by a “mystery girl” who finally introduced herself as Nora West-Allen — their daughter (wait for it) from the future! If it wasn’t for her timely intervention, Nora played by new series regular Jessica Parker Kennedy, the final outcome of The Thinker’s dastardly plan might have been drastically different!

So why did Nora, after revealing herself to her family, make that cryptic announcement that she’s made a “terrible mistake”? Certainly the dangers of time-traveling, or more specifically traveling back in time, have become a poignant plot thread in previous seasons of The CW hit series based on the DC Comics character. So why does time-travel keep creeping back into the series’ story arc, and how does the threat of a new villain, the long-lived cultist Cicada played by new series regular Chris Klein play into Nora’s arrival in The Flash’s present? Stay tuned!

Fans won’t have long to wait for the premiere of Season 5, of The Flash which launches Tuesday, Oct 9 and is promising to be one of the most dramatic and exciting seasons yet, raising expectations indeed. Among some of the threads that will be further explored this coming year is more of Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and her backstory, which will include the introduction of her father. It is being speculated that Caitlin has in fact always been a super-powered metahuman and that she’s had control over the cold since she was a child.

The latest publicity art (as seen on E! News) from the upcoming season puts the West-Allen Family front and center and also further details Nora’s super suit and her alter-ego of XS. Many eagle-eyed fans may have also noticed that The Flash himself is undergoing some changes. Series show-runner Todd Helbing is promising that the super suit will be much more closely aligned with the character’s classic look from the comics, and will also introduce the hero’s ring which has been teased before.

Season 5, of The Flash premieres Tuesday, Oct 9 on The CW.

This Season | BLACK LIGHTING Powers Up!

Guaranteeing a high-powered evening of crime fighting, The CW’s Tuesday night is raising the wattage on action and adventure when BLACK LIGHTNING returns for Season 2!

Though the mild-mannered alter-ego of high school principal Jefferson Pierce may have enjoyed some anonymity in the past, given the superhero’s popularity and longevity Black Lightning has proven a formidable ratings success in The CW’s primetime line-up. Starring Cress Williams in the title role, the one-time outsider arrived on the scene as a mid-season replacement, but will be rightfully paced after The Flash on Tuesday nights when the series returns for Season 2 in October!

In fact the artwork for the upcoming new season is properly situating the rising star and adapting the style of a slick 70s gangland cop feature to prove how electrifying Black Lightning really is. The legend of the Black Lightning unfolded in his premiere season as the once retired metahuman vigilante is forced back into action to defend the corrupt streets of Freehold. Black Lightning is not alone in his vendetta against the criminal Tobias Whale; he’s partnered up with his daughters Thunder (Nafessa Williams) and Lightning (China Ann McClain).

The series producers are insisting that Season 2 will have a more super-powered presence, with the hint that additional metahumans may be introduced challenging Black Lightning, or saddling up as new allies. This might suggest that members of the hero’s DC Comics team The Outsiders may make appearances; the sword-wielding Katana played an important part on a couple of seasons of Arrow. It has been hinted that Black Lightning is part of the DCTV Arrowverse, a cross-over is less likely, at least for the moment, though fans are still holding out hope.

Like its sister-series Supergirl — it is inferred that Black Lightning takes place on an alternate-Earth within the DCTV multiverse.

Black Lightning returns for Season 2 on The CW, Tuesday, Oct. 9 @ 9/8c. The Complete First Season is available now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download.

STAR TREK | A New Five Year Mission

With STAR TREK: DISCOVERY a certified hit on CBS All Access the network pens a deal with Alex Kurtzman for further exploration of the Final Frontier!

Some seasons ago, it had appeared the Star Trek brand had hit certain fatigue, enough so that it needed an infusion to resuscitate the franchise. Handed into the capable hands of J. J. Abrams and his creative think tank Star Trek emerged a hit getting the reboot treatment and ushering it into the hands of a new generation. Since then and two theatrical sequels later, CBS the network that owns the rights to the long-lived legacy, the request came in that Star Trek should return to television!

The network had turned to Alex Kurtzman part of Abrams team of collaborators to help inspire the next phase of the franchise’s resurrection and since its debut Star Trek: Discovery has won the hearts of fans and newcomers alike. The profoundly popular first season served more twists and turns than even the feature films could have delivered, and left fans truly handing on when the cliffhanger guaranteed that when Season 2 debuts it will reintroduce the classic into the mainstream.

The new season of Star Trek: Discovery is currently in production, and following some very exciting casting notices fans gear up for its return in 2019. Even the current creative shake-ups behind-the-scenes haven’t deterred anticipation, but most enterprising (if you’ll pardon the pun) is the news that veteran writer-producer Alex Kurtzman and series co-creator of Star Trek: Discovery has entered into a five-year creative contract to bring more Star Trek to television. Kurtzman who has assumed the roll of showrunner for Season 2 will also be adding to the Trek universe.

CBS has given the creative lease to produce at least one new series, animation and some mini-series set in the world of Star Trek. Among some of the more exciting news is the speculation that Patrick Stewart the actor who appeared as Capt. Jean Luc Picard in the spin-off Star Trek: The Next Generation may return to the captain’s chair headlining in Kurtzman’s new series. Whether that’s true remains to be seen, but it is exciting news that potentially will bring about a renaissance and return to the 24th Century of Star Trek lore.