I think I see your problem. You have this list. It’s a list of people you need/want to buy a Christmas gift for. The trouble is that they’re into home theatre, and you don’t know Star Trek from Star Wars. You couldn’t tell a Wolf Man from a Wolverine. And you always thought that Paranormal Activity was something too kinky to talk about. Fortunately, Upcomingdiscs has come to the rescue every Christmas with our Gift Guide Spotlights. Keep checking back to see more recommendations for your holiday shopping. These gift guides ARE NOT paid advertisements. We take no money to publish them. With conditions as they are, shopping won’t be easy this season. The nice thing about discs is that they’re so easy to get from places like Amazon that you can give a great gift and stay perfectly safe while you do it. Now we look at the best Warner Brothers Blu-ray Television shows:
The Flash: Season 8
“Look at them praying for a miracle that isn’t coming. Who knows? Maybe it’s my curse to leave one betrayal behind only to find a greater one here amongst the stars. They could have stopped this, but none of them had the strength to do what must be done. But I do.”
Crossovers have been big events in the CW Arrowverse shows. They would involve characters from all or most of the current shows, and the episodes would play across the shows themselves. The events were always huge so that they required the combined force of the many DC heroes. Times have changed, and now The Flash is pretty much the only Arrowverse show left on the air. That creates a bit of a logistic problem for the whole crossover event idea. Or does it? This season there is a crossover, of sorts. It plays out over five episodes and includes characters from some other Arrowverse shows even though they are no longer on the air. The Flash begins its eighth season with a crossover event called Armageddon. It encompasses the first five episodes of the season and features characters from the other shows.
Ray Palmer (Routh) is in town for a science conference and to accept an award from Iris’s news outlet. Chester (McKnight) is super excited to meet his idol and maybe get him to fund some of his and others’ ideas. But it turns out that Barry is going to be glad to have him around when a new big bad appears on the scene. He’s Despero, played in part by Tony Curran. I say in part because when he’s not taking a normal human guise he’s a computer-generated villain, still voiced by Curran. Despero is an alien from the future who has witnessed the destruction of the Earth by Barry Allen as The Flash. His plan is to stop the catastrophe from happening. Despero explains that Barry will soon face a series of unfortunate events that will drive him insane, and that’s how he will become this destructive force. Despero offers to hold off on stopping Barry until he senses that his mind is tipping into that crazy. Of course, no one on Team Flash really believes it could happen until those events start to pile up, and they do so in … well … a flash.
“Congratulations! You’ve just given me flashbacks.”
Barry is accused of being corrupt and suspended from the CCPD. The government detects a possible disaster at STAR Labs and takes over his facility. Things like that start to make it look like Despero might be correct. And it’s not just Barry. He has help along the way that includes Supergirl’s Alex Danvers (Leigh). Meanwhile there’s a new Royal Flush gang in town, and their new Queen has psychic powers that just might be the reason that Barry and others are cracking up a bit. Barry is worried enough that he seeks out Black Lightning, reprised by Cress Williams. Barry wants to invoke “Injustice”, which is a protocol that takes away the powers of a Justice League member gone rogue. It’s really something found in the comics in one of The Justice League Of America’s more compelling story arcs. In the books it’s Bruce Wayne/Batman who secretly develops a file on each hero complete with a plan to take them down if something goes wrong with them. In the books the rest of the heroes get pretty pissed when the project comes to light. Here it’s something they all devised, and Black Lightning is the one literally charged with stopping Barry. It doesn’t really work except to drain most of his speed. He ends up in the future where he learns all of his team, including Iris, hate him, and there he’s the Reverse Flash, while Eobard Thawne played by the wonderful Tom Cavanaugh, is about to marry Iris. It’s here that he learns he’s been framed and who is really out to get him. Batwoman (Leslie) also joins up in this episode.
In the final showdown Mia Queen, played by Katherine McNamara, joins the fight, and Barry finds an ally in a most unexpected Damien Dark, played by Neal McDonough. Of course they manage to prove the frame-up, stop the real villain, and convince Despero that everything is now OK.
When we get into the normal season things settle into those elements that make up the mainstay of the series. Caitlin and Frost are now two separate people. It’s a wonderful chance for Danielle Panabaker to play both roles, and they provide a lot of the wonderful drama this season. They face a serious loss this season, and it pushes Caitlin over the edge as she becomes obsessed with raising the dead. The only bad part of this thread is that she kind of removes herself from the group, and so she ends up missing most of the season’s real action.
Iris (Patton) has an uneven season. She turns over some of her editor’s work to Allegra (Compton), who has a little trouble getting the others to trust her until she ends up having to reveal her powers and saves the office crew. She also gets into a relationship with Chester.
The season focuses on a new “force”. We already have the Speedforce and Negative Speedforce. Now Iris suffers a time sickness where she slips in and out of time and is eventually trapped in that Dark Force.
There is a nice switch from the usual meta-of-the-week the team has to stop. This season finds the team trying to help metas out of jams. Barry wants to help a flame meta who has been framed, and Barry is pretty much the only one who believes him, because he reminds Barry of his own father. Some faces from the past return, but they’re not the same, and the early version of Eobard Thawne, played by Matt Letscher, ends up being a guy they also want to help. We get a few visits from the future kids, and they even get a rather humorous episode of their own. But the real new big bad is a meta with cold black flame that threatens to destroy the world. He ends up leveling up to become Death Star. This character was originally a villain formed by the merger of a Lantern Ring and Firestorm. No ring here, but it’s close to the comics, and he’s the big climax big bad that has to be taken out.
A little bit about the Lantern Ring. There are some clues dropped here that involve a visit from David Ramsey as John Diggle. I have to say I love that he’s kind of become the DC version of Nick Fury. He shows up on all of the shows, and this time he has a box with a huge green glow power inside that tempts the jailed Thawne. We never see what is in the box, and Diggle talks about how it came to him. I think Diggle is being positioned to become Green Lantern. Now, that’s just speculation on my part, and there’s nothing official to that happening. Just remember you heard it here first.
One of the biggest losses on the show is that Jesse L. Martin isn’t in enough episodes. That’s been true for a couple of seasons, and he’s not returning as a regular for the ninth and final season. That’s a shame. I love Martin and consider him to be the best actor in this series. He’s really the emotional heart of the story, and he brings that so much in the few episodes he gets here. I suspect he’ll be in a few episodes next year in spite of his “leaving”. The Flash would never be the same without him.
The series has such a large cast at this point that you just can’t do justice to them all. While I like them all and can’t point out a weak link here, it’s becoming too much and has affected the storytelling somewhat. It will be very interesting to see how they say goodbye next year.
Peacemaker: Season 1
by Jeremy Butler
Leave it to James Gunn to create a character so interesting and with so much depth that just one movie isn’t enough to satisfy our interest. Solution: give said character his own television series. John Cena reprises his role in The Suicide Squad (not to be confused with the other film helmed by David Ayer, Suicide Squad) as Christopher Smith a.k.a Peacemaker; a killer who believes in achieving peace at any cost. Last we saw Peacemaker, he’d been shot and had a building dropped on him after murdering his one Suicide Squad team member and attempting to kill another. Now you will think a bullet to the throat and being buried under a mountain of rumble would have spelled the demise of this character that, “cherished peace with all his heart, no matter how many men, women, or children he had to kill to get it.” However, the character somehow survived, and we all more grateful for it. HBO Max’s Peacemaker is in keeping with the spirit and charm of the Gunn led film. This likely due to Gunn direct involvement with the writing of the series, as well as him directing the first three episodes, which essentially set the tone for the series, as well as his direction of two additional first season episodes, to one of which being the season finale. Needless to say, the series was in good hands throughout this first season.
This season digs into the background of Peacemaker, exploring his upbringing and the events that shaped him into the person that he is today. This exploration provides much needed depth, as well as has the added benefit of humanizing the character. In the film, it was difficult to root for a character that was advertised as a douchey Captain America (Cena’s words as to how the character was pitched to him), but with the greater context of the relationship between him and his father and his struggles following the events of film, it became difficult not to sympathize and eventually come to like the character. A prime example of said troubles occurs in episode 3 (Better Goff Dead), when the character’s commitment to his mission wavers when confronted with the elimination of a difficult target.
The overall plot of season is resonant of another Gunn led film, Slither, introducing a parasitic alien race that takes over people, making them host. Despite this recycling, the premise of the season feels fresh and at no time felt like a rehash. On the contrary, it felt utterly unique. The series introduced characters that felt unlike any I seen on other series. Most notably, Gunn’s version of Adrian Chase a.k.a. Vigilante. This wasn’t the first live action incarnation of the character; Josh Segarra embodied the role and served as a big bad for the fifth season of Arrow. Gun’s incarnation takes a different approach. Freddie Stroma’s portrayal is that of a nerdy, social-awkward yet completely ruthless sociopath. The character truly leaves up to the name in my opinion. Best example of these traits was also showcased in episode 3, as he manages to do, without hesitation, what another character struggled to do.
The series teethers the line between hilarity and cheesy at times, but more the most part manages to stay in the hilarity lane predominantly. The chemistry of the cast has coupled with uniqueness of the story line have much to do with that success. It always nice when you can’t predict where a story is going and how it will end. It allows to you fully embrace the journey. In regards to what to expect, I will let you in on one secret: you can expect a season 2 of the series and yes, James Gunn is set to return to write and direct all episodes. So I feel comfortable saying that season 2 remains in good hands.
Superman And Lois: Season 2
“There’s a bizarre version of Superman on the loose.”
They are the most famous couple in comic book history. Together they are Superman & Lois, and they’ve joined the ever-expanding Arrowverse for their second season now out on Blu-ray from Warner Home Entertainment. While this is still a young series, the characters and these actors portraying them are not new to the Arrowverse. Tyler Hoechlin as Superman and Elizabeth Tulloch as Lois Lane have been here for a few years. Both have shown up on Supergirl, and both appeared in a couple of the crossover events that have pulled together the various Arrowverse shows in the past. Now the focus is on them. They have their own show, and it’s quite a different approach to the characters and their story. There has also been a departure that puts the show no longer in the official Arrowverse. I suspect that move comes on the heels of The Flash now entering its final season and I suspect closing the Arrowverse going forward.
The second season picks up exactly where the second season ended. So if you don’t know these characters and the events of the first season, I suggest you go back and catch up before you read this review or attempt to watch this release. When the first season ended, a spacecraft of some kind was crashing down at the Kent farm. Inside we find Natalie (Buck). She’s the daughter of John Henry Irons (Parks), who was a crucial ally of our heroes in his steel suit back in the first season. He came from a different Earth where Superman was a bad guy and he was married to Lois, not Clark. That Lois was killed by Superman, and so Natalie’s first reaction is that this Lois is her mother. Of course, these feelings cause a lot of the season’s emotional tension as the families attempt to stay together. Turns out Natalie is very smart and pretty much the brains behind the steel suit. We will also learn much more about their old life as the season progresses.
For Superman, he’s having trouble with the new head of the DOD. That would be Mitch Anderson (Bohen). The previous head was General Sam Lane (Walsh), who was, of course Lois’s father. Anderson wants 100% loyalty and submission from Superman who insists on saving lives all over the world including a North Korean submarine and a Russian village. Anderson has developed a elite fighting team made up of teens on X-Kryptonite, which gives powers to normal people. Usually you get one of Superman’s powers, and it appears to be random. It might be flight, or x-ray vision, or super speed or strength. Supes isn’t happy about the new team and worries about using such young kids to fight huge threats.
As the season begins, Clark is having these debilitating visions, and we soon learn that it’s connected to a new arrival on this Earth. Meanwhile Lois has put her reputation on the line against a cult leader named Ally Allston (Kihlstedt). Lois’s sister Lucy (Dewan) is one of her followers, and it’s led to a fallout between the sisters. Lois wanted so much to expose Ally and show her sister what’s really going on that she crossed lines that are costing her now. This story is going to intersect with Superman’s visions.
It turns out some bad guys have brought a being from another dimension to Smallville. Comic fans will know who we’re talking about when they hear Bizarro Superman. In the comics, Bizarro was created by a duplication ray that made an almost opposite Superman with a blocky, crude look. He was very much akin to Frankenstein’s monster. He was rather innocent and spoke in a choppy language like: “Me ugly.” He fell in love with Lois, and once spurned used the ray to create his own Lois. They flew off to form their own world, which became Bizarro World. The place was populated by Bizaro Supermen and Loises. To make them feel better, Superman even fashioned their planet to be a square instead of a globe. Throughout the Superman comic history there would be different versions with different stories. Sometimes he was a villain and sometimes a hero. This version is pretty much set apart from those original comic origins.
In this show the Bizarro Superman gets scarred by his travel from his dimension to ours. He’s also more aggressive than our Superman, and a few episodes are dedicated to his arrival and confrontations with Superman. Superman seeks the help of his imprisoned brother, Tal-Rho (Rayner), who takes him to his own Fortress of Solitude in the desert. There we meet Superman’s mom, Lara (Klaveno). Now we know why Clark was always attracted to women with L names like Lois Lane and Lana Lang. When the two Supermen collide, the truth comes out and the two story lines converge.
Ally has a pendulant that connects her to herself in another dimension. She’s been using her cult to gain strength. The pendulant allows visions of the other world and now they believe they must merge with their other selves to be their best selves. Ally plans to merge the two Earths and it will be pretty destructive to all on our world.
We visit the other world and find many changes. It’s very much a mirror world with even writing backwards. There the Kents have enjoyed celebrity status because Clark’s identity as Superman is known to the world. There it’s son Jonathan (Elsass) who has powers instead of Jordan (Garfin). Jonathan is on Ally’s side, as is that world’s Lana Lang. So we get into conflicts of doppelgangers and various versions of known characters throughout the season with the ultimate goal to stop the merge from happening.
There are several other stories running through the season. Lana (Chriqui) is running for mayor. Her daughter Sarah (Navarrette) is dating Jordan, and the secrets get in the way of the relationship. Lana also discovers a secret from her own husband, and that family appears to be breaking up. John Henry ends up in a coma because he came to Superman’s aid one too many times, and Natalie builds her own suit while still resenting Lois and particularly Superman. Jonathan ends up taking X Kryptonite to compete on the football field and it seems like family is an ongoing theme for the season and the series in general. This is also Jordan Elsass’s final season as Jonathan Kent. The role will be taken over by Michael Bishop in the third season.
There are 15 episodes on four discs.
The season ends with the construction of a new Fortress of Solitude. This one is out to sea and offers us a glimpse into the family dynamic of the next season. “You have to focus on your strengths, right?”
Supergirl: The Final Season
“My name is Kara Zor-El. When I was younger, my home planet was dying. Saving it was hopeless. My father sent me to Earth to take care of my baby cousin who went before me, and I thought we were the only two survivors, and that everyone else from our planet was dead, including my father. I can’t lose him again.”
They say all good things must come to an end, and for the fans of CW’s Supergirl, that end has finally arrived. Arrow started it all so many years ago and has been off the air a couple of years even though the CW DC universe has been coined The Arrowverse. The Flash will remain as the likely flagship for the joined universe with Legends Of Tomorrow, Superman and Lois, and unfortunately Batwoman keeping the last embers alive. I suspect that it will all close shop within the next two years. It’s been a good run with some exceptional superhero television and some memorable characters, but we’re in the home stretch, to be sure. But you can’t just step in after a decade of Arrowverse unseen. If you have not seen the show before, you must at least go back and check out the previous five seasons. It’ll be worth the time. You can also take a look at all of our reviews of Supergirl here: Supergirl Reviews.
Like almost every television and film production over the last two years, COVID has had an impact on the stories and pace of this final season of Supergirl. The fifth season did not get completed, and that story had to carry over to the beginning of this season. Unfortunately, it means a couple of episodes where the story conclusions appear rushed and a bit awkward. It’s the result of trying to tie up the previous year and get to these final stories as soon as they could. We can all wish it were better, but it doesn’t change the fact that this rapid resolve is pretty much unavoidable. The gang is putting the finishing touches on their defeat of Leviathan. The first episode has the entire team deep into a battle that takes care of last season’s big bad. There’s a rather nice Wrath of Khan homage with Brainiac (Rath) sealed behind a transparent barrier separated from Mia (Maines) amid a flood of radiation. They offer an exchange very much like the famous Kirk and Spock farewell. This time Mia manages to save her love, and the good guys celebrate another one in the W column.
But that wasn’t quite the end of that story. Lex Luthor (Cryer) isn’t quite finished. He’s got a ring of satellites around the Earth that will brainwash everyone on Earth in a VR environment into loving him, and the half of the population that isn’t brainwashed get killed. He wants to “fix” the planet and pick up where the Anti-Monitor from the Crises storyline failed. The fight to stop him happens very quickly, and it’s over pretty much as soon as it begins, because again, we’re trying to get to what the new season was always intended to be, and it starts with what I imagine was originally intended to be a fifth season cliffhanger. Lex is defeated, but not before he sends Kara (Benoist) into the Phantom Zone.
So now the team is desperately trying to rescue Kara. They turn to a vampire-like alien who manages to open a portal, but they find the Phantom Zone has been corrupted and is fractured, which will make it very hard to find Kara even if they break through. Instead of a rescue, they allow phantoms to come to Earth, and now they have to stop them from infecting everyone on the planet and turning Earth into the next Phantom Zone. Meanwhile, Kara encounters two new characters while she’s looking for a way to escape. She befriends Nxylgsptinz (Sergeant), or just Nxy for short. Turns out she’s an imp from the fifth dimension like that old Superman Comics nuisance, Mxyzptlk (Lennon), who shows up later when little imp Nxy turns out to be not so much of a friend after all. The other encounter Kara makes is the discovery that her father has been alive and stuck here all this time. So while the team is trying their rescue, Kara is trying to escape.
The rescue plan calls for Brainiac and Mia to go back in time to Kara’s high school years in an attempt to get some DNA during a vulnerable moment. This will allow them to track her when they create another portal. Of course, she’s rescued by Nxy, hitches a ride back, and the second half of the season involves the fight between her and the team and eventually Lex who falls in love with the imp. Yeah, that’s what I said. You’ll have to watch it and see for yourself.
The second half of the season is a more typical story arc. You’ve seen this played out a hundred times. In order to regain her magical powers, Nxy must obtain seven artifacts that represent such concepts as courage, love, and dreams. It’s a battle back and forth to get them before she does.
There are plenty of wonderful moments for everybody this season. Alex (Leigh) and Kelly (Tesfai) are dealing with their relationship, and Kelly joins the team as the new Guardian. Andrea (Gonzalo) is fighting to get higher ratings for CATCO and wants to have Supergirl’s team be a part of the news organization like Superman is for The Daily Planet. She coins the team the Super Friends, and it kind of fits. Fans will like the nod to the old Saturday morning cartoon show I watched back in the 1970’s. David Ramsey also shows up as Diggle. He has been the one uniting force for the Arrowverse since that show left. I love Ramsey, and it’s great to see him across these shows. He even directs the episode he’s in. Lena Luthor (McGrath) discovers her mother was an evil witch and learns to cast spells so that she can contribute to the battle scenes now.
One of the brighter spots in the final season has to be young Mila Jones. She plays a young alien girl who can’t get a break in the foster care system. She’s eventually adopted by Alex and Kelly. There’s something about this little girl and her performance that is off-the-chain adorable. She might have been the biggest reason I won’t want the show to end. I hope she pops up somewhere else soon. I’m really not usually a sucker for the “cute kid” ploy, but this one is just impossible to resist. Good luck, Mila.
Finally, the season sees some nice cameos from previous characters and elements. But I’m disappointed in the finale. It suffers from the same thing that brought down Wonder Woman 84. Instead of the battles actually being the decisive factor, they tap into the global love and defeat the bad guys through the power of love. Nice sentiment, guys but it’s kind of hoaky and just wasn’t the kind of finale I was hoping for. You’ll have to decide for yourself as we say goodbye, for now, to Supergirl and her Super Friends.
One more star falls from the sky. Supergirl was one that I enjoyed, for the most part. It got a lot better as the team evolved, and I even grew to like Benoist a bit over time. She grew into the role, and it was a pretty solid six years. I will miss characters like David Harewood’s Jonn the most. He didn’t get to do enough, even though he did quite a lot. I will miss both the character and the actor the most. He was truly the heart and soul of the show. If you’ve read the previous reviews, I’ve had a lot to say about him over the years. So what does this all mean going forward? “I can explain with words unless this place has a decent sound system.”