Sci-Fi’s Flash Gordon

I’m old enough to remember watching the old 1980 film Flash Gordon. I liked it. I still do. As a matter of fact I watched it a couple of weeks ago and found the hammy acting and horrid “special effects” nostalgic and amusing. Ming was as cliché a villain to ever touch the silver screen. Zarkov was suitably eccentric for a run-of-the-mill mad scientist. Vultan was the perfect boisterous warrior just waiting for his moment to strike. HOWEVER…

Sci-Fi’s new Flash Gordon series is just bad. I managed to eke through three or four episodes trying to give it a chance. I know that starting a new story requires a little time to set up the world and the characters. But the blasphemy they’ve done to a cult classic is just wrong. Yes, I know that Flash started as a comic and has enjoyed a long run of radio shows, movie serials, and various live action and animated television series before now. But the Flash Gordon that most people today will remember is the movie from 1980.

They’ve turned Zarkov from a brilliant yet eccentric lunatic into a fidgety, bumbling, cowardly parody of a man. A man that creates devices that don’t work. Great work, guys. Flash is a track star…a far cry from the football all-star he was in the movie. Dale has been turned into Lois Lane a-la Smallville and Ming looks like some James Bond-esque euro-trash villain. Absolutely brilliant.

Now production is decent. The special effects are right up with what you’d expect from a Sci-Fi TV series and the camera work isn’t bad. The title theme is a cover of the 1980 movie theme by Queen. But after that it’s all down hill. The dialogue is stiff and uninspiring as are the characters. While the movie didn’t make any history for a quality script, there were engaging characters. I haven’t had such an effect with this series. What I see here is a bunch of cardboard cutouts from all the worst written paperbacks to ever grace the trash can.

At the very least I would have hoped for something bad enough to be enjoyable much like the Rocky Horror Picture Show. But sadly all we are rewarded with for spending our Friday’s watching this is a lost hour that could be used getting the lint out of our navels. At least that would have had something positive about it.

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