I should be happy about the return of everyone’s fast-and-furious-favorite scarlet speedster, The Flash, to prime-time television this fall, but I still wear the scars of Crimson Cannonballer’s previous go back in 1990. The one-season CBS drama was killed by a upstart skateboarding brat and a bloodthirsty OB/GYN, a sweater-clad Coke-addict who originally felt threatened by the aforementioned juvenile delinquent but then joined forces with the Terrible ‘Tween to trip the Flash straight into cancellation. Ten years later, I discovered “The Flash – Complete Series” on DVD in the bargain bin at a Christmas Tree Shop in Freehold, NJ. The Mighty Have Never Fallen As Hard and As Fast.
Yeah, that’s the TV show: a blur. A blip on the radar. A Thursday night casualty. The fault was not in the casting of the hero: John Wesley Shipp fit the role, and Amanda Pays was an amiable super-smart-kinda-sorta-love interest. The English gal was top of the pops in 1990, since she ended the 1980s by teaming with RoboCop to destroy this rotten piece of fish:
By the by, that creature from “Leviathan” is a badass and is due for a re-make versus Fred Dryer and Danny Trejo, rightrightright?? This monstrosity devoured a lot of the major players in the ‘Familiar Faces of the Movies’ game: Hector Elizondo, Richard Crenna, Lisa Eilbacher…heck, it even killed a Ghostbuster and that ruffian-turned-hero who threatened the residents of that apartment building in “Batteries Not Included”. Sadly, “Leviathan” was Michael Carmine’s last production, as the actor died on October 14, 1989 from AIDS-related heart failure.
The problem with the original Flash TV show was the assignment of the villain roles. Only three villains from the Silver Age Rogues Gallery appeared: Captain Cold, Mirror Master, and the Trickster. Mirror Master was portrayed by David Cassidy, a bit of gimmicky casting in the vein of the Batman villain selections for the 60s TV show, but he seemed more a disgruntled stockbroker that would be more aesthetically suited to a cockfight in an episode of “Miami Vice”. I certainly know I shrugged after remarking, “Oh, it’s the Partridge kid. Cute.” Then I waited for an epic razzle-dazzle showdown that never quite inspired the Carmine Infantino-penned images of yesterday. Captain Cold, who could’ve been Danny Bonaduce or even Willie Aames if we are following the demonstrated casting regulations, was played by former Scorpions musician (not those Scorpions, but itself a blip on the musical radar in the late 60s) Michael Champion, a guy who couldn’t exude the icy chill of the villain’s essence or even deliver one-liners with farcical, self-deprecating flair. Champion played a baddie on 80s TV, as well as in “Toy Soldiers”, the movie that had the courage to kill Wil Wheaton. Oh…uh…spoiler alert…I’m not really sorry…
Then we analyze the last of 70s castaways…”Luke Skywalker” Mark Hamill as the Trickster. His appearances later in the season were so popular they were re-packaged as a two-hour movie for VHS. We were finally accepting Mark Hamill as a verifiable nutjob. He channeled all inner insobriety to the role of a villain largely relegated to Flash’s version of the Joker, but his magnetic mania was insufficient to save “The Flash” from the Simpson/Huxtable undertakers. A big positive flip to Hamill’s overlooked and undercompensated energy: he had the proverbial right stuff to invigorate a new animated Clown Prince of Crime, and the rest is, as Jokey says, hysterically homicidal history…
Hey, Spider That Just Crawled Across My Screen: Is There a Way Out of this Cockamamie Bouillabaisse ?
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Onward and Upward, Ye Mad Bohemians and Drunken Legends?