Thursday, April 05, 2007

Live Action: "Honor Among Thieves"

“Honor Among Thieves” (October 25, 1990)

Writers: Milo Bachman, Danny Bilson, and Paul DeMeo
Story: Howard Chaykin & John Francis Moore
Director: Aaron Lipstadt
Editor: Lawrence J. Gleason

Synopsis: The famed Death Mask of Rasputin, a Russian national treasure of incalculable value, is schedule to be displayed at the Central City Museum. As the priceless artifact is being transported, a team of highly-skilled thieves assembles to plot and pursue a daring heist. Stan Kovacs, the ruthless leader of this gang, is planning to seize the Mask as his associates stage a number of simultaneous strikes! Fortunately, Kovacs and his cronies aren’t counting on interference from Central City’s speedy protector.

Commentary: “Honor Among Thieves” matches its predecessor by proving itself as another entertaining and well-scripted installment of the crimson comet’s television series. It’s clear from seeing this episode’s unique gang of thieves in action that The Flash’s writers and producers were itching to introduce the Flash’s familiar Rogues Gallery. Demolition expert Mark Bernhardt, for instance, instantly brings to mind a certain hot-headed pyromaniac from the pages of the scarlet speedster’s comic. Similarly, chemist Parry Johnson evokes that famously cold-blooded Rogue when he wields a freezing apparatus during a break-in at Star Labs. Unfortunately, a network mandate prohibiting costumed supervillains on the series would keep the beloved Rogues Gallery out of episodes like this--until they could be re-imagined later in the season. Regardless, this episode’s distinctive villains possess just enough character and menace to keep things entertaining from start to finish, and the ensuing action sequences attempt to make creative use of the Flash’s super-speed powers whilst remaining within the bounds of the limited special effects budget. A sub-plot involving Barry Allen’s attempts to end his estrangement with his onetime mentor, archeology professor Ted Preminger, brings an emotional depth to the story, expands our hero’s back story, and also manages to elaborate on the show’s usual scientific themes. Offering an astute observation regarding Barry’s chosen line of work, Tina McGee asks, “What is a police scientist if he’s not one-half cop and one-half archeologist?”

High-Speed Highlight: By stacking bricks of gold from a heavy pile of stolen bullion, the Flash erects a one-man prison cell around Parry Johnson in seconds.

Quotable: “As long as you stay in the tabloids, you’re still just a rumor. But it looks like this Flash name is going to stick. I don’t know, I think it’s kind of… sexy. Yeah, you know. Like a sports car or an aftershave.” --Dr. Tina McGee muses on the name that the Central City press has chosen for its resident superhero

Special Thanks: Thanks, as always, go out to Kelson Vibber for the screen captures featured here.

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