Flash Gordon (2007–2008)
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I've read the venomous barbs attacking the show and I don't want any part of that: suffice it to say "to each his own". I guess what I'm saying is I prefer the Fantasy-side of Sci Fi over the drama-side, but that does not mean I'm any less of a fan of Sci-Fi. From my perspective,FG is a good effort and the Sci Fi channel ought to be lauded for such a brave endeavor, but like the Dresden Files, Flash Gordon will most likely be canceled.
This is one of those shows that will age well given time - it feels like the actors/writers haven't quite settled into the show yet. Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a disastrous first season with terrible, cheesy writing, low brow plot lines and terrible acting... yet it went on to have a huge cult following and seven seasons. I think this series deserves a chance.
The characters are endearing and it has a clear direction that I'm interested in. I hope we see a second season.
First off, if you went into this expecting to hear shades of the 1980 movie's Queen soundtrack, you're going to be disappointed. The opening theme wasn't that bad (it actually has a lot of potential), but the rest of the soundtrack is a letdown. Typical canned music that one would expect if Hollywood ever made a porn movie. If SciFi Channel was going to remix the original Flash Gordon song for their trailers, you would think that it would show up somewhere in the series.
The music isn't the major letdown, however. It's the completely soulless "re-imagination" of a science fiction classic that dumps just about everything that made Flash Gordon - from the original comics, serials, animated series, and movie - so great. About the only thing that carried over was character and planet names. I'm sorry, but it's going to take more than that to make an interesting series. If the comics could be "re-imagined" into the Buster Crabbe serials, and the serials into the animated series, and all of that into the 1980 movie while still keeping the whole Flash Gordon spirit, how hard would it be to make a TV series that can do the same?
The characters lack any character. Between the bad acting and the poor writing, it is impossible to find a character that isn't boring, or even likable. The actors are 20/30 somethings and few of them are well known. Probably because SciFi Channel decided to save on money by hiring their usual low grade, pretty face talent Maybe if the writing hadn't been done by committee it would seem less like "Dawson's Creek in Space", but I doubt it. I can understand the whole "Sliders Rift Thing" as a convention for the characters getting to Mongo - interstellar flight isn't possible for Earth when this series is set and most viewers realize this - but overall there isn't much innovation. Perhaps SciFi Channel should learn to develop their imagination before trying to "re-imagine" any other series.
Final thought: I thought that CBS' "re-imagination" of Kolchak the Nightstalker was the worst remake ever. SciFi Channel has proved me wrong once again.
OK so now Flash is Stephen Gordon aka "Flash" because he runs marathons and wins medals for it. Medals he hangs on his fathers grave, medals which are still there 2 years later (it was the 3rd annual marathon he won in a row)... Dumb on 2 counts, obviously the leaving the medals and having them stay there for years is dumb but it shows that even 13 years after his father died, Flash has yet to move on. Don't get me wrong its good to honor the memory of lost parents and all, but I think our hero needs some counseling.
So then we get dimension rips or wormholes or whatever and out steps a heavily armored cyborg who is hunting the for something. He's able to understand our postal address system well enough to find the Gordon house using papa Gordon's drivers license and goes hunting for this Imex thing (which i kept thinking god why does it sound like I-Max). Hes got the ability to mind control Flash's mom but loses the fight to a reporter with a power cord and a big meat fork. At this point I figured out the missing thingamabob is in dad's old watch the one Flash has worn since his dad died, so much for secrecy.
Our reporter turns out to be smart enough to use power cords to create a dandy electrocution kit without causing massive damage to the house electrical system but doesn't understand the simple premise of a tracking device that beeps when pointed the right direction. GAH.
So now we track down goofy science guy living in the micro-Winnebago by looking up his college yearbook online..... WHAT? They just happened to have the address where he parks his van (down by the river?) and it's available online....
OK so now creepy science guy explains that ripping holes in the fabric of space-time is bad... But makes to effort to stop Flash and Dale from doing just that.
Boom! Hi there welcome to Mongo. A planet that should be a hotbed of tectonic activity with not just 2 moons but a whole other planet right next door in orbit. Mongo is a great place if you are the Emperor... You are the hero with the only source of clean water on the planet. Everyone else is just there to be serfs I guess.
Ming is no longer a deviant Chinese man who destroys whole worlds for fun, now hes a Tyrant who worries about public opinion and has trouble tracking down a missing watch on another planet despite the fact that he has the address of where it is located.
Cut to torture time with Flash, now they were going to map his brain to learn everything he knows.... But wait just then a woman bursts in and saves flash by shooting his torturer. Great she's obviously just a simple palace slave who wants to escape. A simple well dressed slave with excellent skin tone and makeup, forget that she has access to the torture room... oh and a gun... oh and she knows the layout and guard patrols.. oh and she knows all about the water purification area under the castle (which for something so massively important to planetary survival has no security or guards)... She also knows how the patrol craft operate and how to use a dimension ripper. FLASH YOU IDIOT!
So back home, yay! Lets rip some more holes... Bounty hunter time, another rip and look the bounty hunter is a hottie too.. no armor... one gun... ummm yeah, oh and she can drive stick, she can also find people with her vast psychic powers too i guess.. the same psychic powers that let the princess find her way from Dale's place to Flash's mother's home on pure instinct. I mean bad enough everyone speaks perfect English but they can also find one house out of a city without a map or a learner's permit.
Hey Flash the princess is here, shes got a gun and can recognize the I-mex immediately, even though its disguised and she doesn't know what a TV remote is or what the I-mex looks like. I mean she should have at least taken his cellphone too just in case IT was the I-mex.
You know if I had lost the sum of all knowledge in the universe I wouldn't wait 13 years to reclaim it. I also wouldn't send 1 guy with dubious combat skills. But thats just me.
Hey time to rip even MORE holes.. this was a bad thing right? Anyway the evil princess gets fooled into thinking the I-mex is destroyed, although your average street magician could have been more convincing, and we find out daddy is alive (DUH) and is hooked up to some computer... maybe the one that maps your brain and would have told the bad guys not only where to locate it but also which pizza places would have delivered to the house while you were there...
You know some shows have plot holes, some have major ones (Professor stop making radios out of coconuts and fix the 2 foot hole in the boat) and some just say "We didn't actually care enough to hire writers, we just strung together a series of scenes and called it a pilot, we figure sci-fi viewer are dumb enough to watch anything"
Sigh. I had hoped it would be good.
So the question begs itself, can you write off a show that starts poorly or should it be judged in its entirety? I think, all things considered, the show is better than it was and might well become a quality show. There are a few episodes left in the season so I'm adopting a wait and see attitude. But the most recent episodes are far better than previous ones and I think the show deserves a second season...assuming they up the budget and tweak the writing.
OK, so this is no Battlestar Galactica. It's low-budget and goofy, and it's not particularly intelligent or emotionally deep. There's no arguing that.
But, who said it had to be the next great sci-fi series? Flash Gordon seems to be intended as silly, escapist fun, and I can't find any way in which it doesn't fulfill that role. The simple story lines are executed well with a good (if predictable) mix of drama and humor, and the characters are developed well enough to keep at least a passing interest, not to mention being easy on the eyes.
Flash Gordon reminds me a lot of Doctor Who mixed with a dash of Baywatch. I suspect that most viewers will enjoy it if they allow themselves to. I definitely do.
Not that I'd admit it to anyone. :)
Eric Johnson takes most of the bizarre sights and activities that he sees with an "oooookaaay..." type of air which adds a humorous air to situations. Jody Racicot also does well as the extremely nervous Hans Zarkov (or "that strange fidgety little man", as Baylin calls him). Karen Cliché is easily one of the most enjoyable cast members, delivering humor with her confusion or lack of knowledge about human customs or lifestyles, however also is a tough woman with no problem punching someone in the face. Gina Holden is so-so, but she is not my favorite by far. While her connections to the media are used to introduce Mongo invaders to Flash and Co in the episodes, she herself unfortunately shares little chemistry with either Flash or her fiancé, Joe. Anna van Hooft is brilliant as Ming's stuck-up teenage daughter, disgusted with her father's actions yet caring enough not to wish for his own death (or the death of others). John Ralston portrays Ming the "Benevolent Father" as a more modern dictator, using the planet's limited water supply to control the population and insisting all the while that he loves the people.
The series has had a somewhat rocky, though adequate, start. By the episode Sorrow, the show has definitely started to introduce deeper subplots and better character development, paving the way for a better future.
One can forgive the poor acting given the see-and-say dialogue and poorly thought out story elements. However, if your expecting dazzling special effects and quality action to save the day, your better off watching a power point presentation at the office.
One more thing; Can Ming be any less intimidating? This version of Flash Gordon's nemesis has all the villainous charm of Bill Lumbergh from Office Space!
I will admit that I miss the intimidating version of Ming, especially when played by Max Von Sydow. This Ming doesn't have the bite, but he has a subdued ruthlessness (I know that sounds like an oxymoron). And I do have to say that I didn't care too much for the first episode. Still I decided to stick with it for a while and I am glad that I did. Now that the season is over I'm sure Sci Fi will play the entire season over again. So anyone who missed it can start all over. Just give it 2-3 episodes. It's won't kill you!
The majority of the countless negative IMDb comments about this show were penned in August 2007, shortly after a butchered 1-part SciFi Channel edit of the longer 2-part pilot aired (seems the network wanted to sabotage it from the start). Thing is, this update is a series that plays better on DVD than it did over 6 months on the TV. Yes, there were some major problems in the beginning -- mainly cheap effects and an overtly comedic tone which permeated the first half of the series -- but they ironed out a lot of wrinkles as the season progressed and were well on their way to a great second year when the show was unceremoniously canceled. And aside from some major surface deviations with Ming (who's no longer an inhuman, politically incorrect Asian slur), they took the essences of the earlier incarnations and injected them into modern characters. (And yes, I'm a lifelong Flash fan, from Buster Crabbe to the porn spoof; from the Filmation cartoons to the campy 1980 DeLaurentis flick.)
The biggest problems were budgetary constraints which forced them to set the bulk of each of the early episodes on Earth with the gang having to fend off the alien-of-the-week. "Sliders" and "Stargate" comparisons were rampant and the backlash against the show was LOUD and immediate, which forced the network to give them some more money to work with. Unfortunately, the CGI team clearly wasn't given more funds but eventually they shifted the bulk of the episodes to Mongo (with plans to keep the characters stranded there for season 2) and phased out the characters of Joe, Dale's cop boyfriend (a character which was a bad decision from the get-go), and Nick, Flash's best friend. The alien-of-the-week had been tedious on a week-to-week basis, but it ultimately served as good framework, since it slowly established most of the characters who would go on to be pivotal in the overall season storyline.
Matter of fact, this was a character-driven show with a lot of development and character arcs. Eric Johnson exuded charisma as Flash, who went from being dumb jock to defender of the universe (or of Mongo, anyway). The prim and proper Dale got to kick ass a few times -- and even be slutty once when a evil witch stole her body. Ming, who showed some signs of real humanity when the show began, became more "merciless" as he found his empire drawing nearer to ruin. And Ming's daughter Aura, who began the show as a spoiled, bratty princess probably went through the biggest character arc of all. Also worth noting are the show's two original characters -- warrior Baylen and creepy, droid-ish scientist Rankol -- as both seemed to get more layered and intriguing with each passing episode.
It's a shame this show never recovered from the backlash against initial episodes (or from the childish, mob-like mentality of Sci-Fi viewers who trolled all of the message boards, making civilized discussion utterly impossible), but I commend the crew for getting it on track and telling a complete story by the finale - so few serialized shows get closure. If only fans and the network had stuck with it, the 2007 "Flash" could've gone on to become a show that was truly great. As is, it falls short of that, but it's a show with a lot of heart, humor, action and lovable characters. If you're willing to stick with it through the first 12 episodes, or if you like light, family-friendly "Xena" and "Hercules" type of fare, it's worth the $5 at Walmart for Mill Creek's complete series DVD release.
Let's face it. We're talking about freakin' FLASH GORDON here. This isn't Blade Runner for crissakes. If more of you could just take it for what it is instead of comparing it with the Flash of their youth (with all the warm glowing nostalgia) you might even enjoy yourselves. This is light entertainment, not cutting-edge science fiction drama. Lighten up, kids.
Now, fifteen years later, Flash is 25 and there's a hint that his father didn't die in a fire, that he was "lost" in one of his experiments gone haywire.
through a series of events, Flash opens a portal to Mongo and jumps head first with Dale Arden to try to rescue his father from Ming the Merciless... OK.
Dale fights with Ming's daughter, who's fighting with a bounty hunter chick, who's fighting with Flash... OK.
Ming's daughter wants "the Imex" a secret thing that Flash's father had. OK.
"the Imex" is the Timex watch that Flashes father gave to him at age 10. It unlocks the secrets of Mongo or the universe... we're not quite sure.
1) why would Flash's father give Flash the Timex watch that contains all the secrets of the universe when he was 10? Apparently he's a pretty responsible youngster and has never lost anything...ever, because 15 years later Flash is STILL wearing the Timex watch that his father gave him... uh.. OK.
2) why would Ming send a flying probe though the portal? this seemed rather lame and pointless. It was quickly decimated by a local Mexican immigrant wielding a double barrel shotgun from his truck cab. I'm also fairly certain there are laws against weapons and firearms being hidden in cars and trucks... right? I'm also fairly certain that if **I** were Ming the Merciless, my Probe Scanning Flying things wouldn't be so easily decimated by some idiot wielding a double barrel shotgun. (see robot, later on) 3) why would Ming send a single robot through the portal to get the Imex instead of launching a full or semi-full scale invasion of Earth? 4) why is the robot carrying Flash's father's drivers Licence, which is discovered in the remains of the charred exploded robot? Why would Ming the Merciless intentionally do this at all? If Flash's father planted it there (and from the show's final scene, he didn't) how would he have known that Flash would be the one to discover it? 5) why are there only four eye witnesses in a packed crowded bowling alley that report seeing an alien robot blow stuff up? The bowling alley had people at every lane... yet only four eye-witnesses saw the robot? Why did the robot blow up a bowling ball? 6) Flash believes his father died in a fire, but he didn't, he was sucked through a portal to Mongo yet when we finally see a flashback of this "fire" it only occupies about 5% of their lab and is quickly extinguished with a fire extinguisher, its clearly not a big enough fire to cause major damage yet this is the cover story that Flash's father burned to a crisp and no body was ever found? what? 7) while Dale and Flash argue outside his fathers old lab, which is now Zarkov's Lab, the door suddenly explodes outward... why? Aside from these gaps in logic, and more, it was interesting to watch and even more interesting to pick apart the show.
The portal and the device that opens the portal reminded me an Awful LOT of the FOX show Sliders
Zarkov seems like a rip-off of Rodney from Stargate:Atlantis, but the rest of the characters are very good. Gina Holden is hot!
It's little strange the way they changed Mongo from being another planet to being another dimension, but I guess they did that for budget purposes and to make the storyline easier. This way they just have to walk through a rift and can be in Mongo in 5 seconds.
As for the actual developing story line, I find that the character's traits are emerging episode by episode thereby allowing you to learn about them just as you would if you met someone and learned more and more about them as you spent time with them.
I am a bit fan of "Smallville," "Heroes," and "Greatest American Hero." Having been force fed the original Adam West "Batman" series, the very low budget "Spider-Man" and "Hulk" series, and the loathsome "Wonder Woman" fiasco, it is a pleasure to see someone making a realistic approach to making some Superhero series, even if they have to twist around the original concepts to make it believable.
Admittedly, it got off to a rocky start, but it was bearable and there's so little sci-fi on TV these days I decided to stick with it. To my surprise, it actually improved significantly, going against all known laws of television shows, which generally peak with the first few episodes/seasons and then drop off from there. The actor who plays Ming is my favorite sort of villain--quietly evil, no maniacal laughter or cheesy lines. Eric Johnson is excellent as Flash, and the actresses in this show astounded me by playing female characters I didn't despise (I'm a girl, but I can't stand them on TV and in movies--they're all so stereotypical). The main character actors are actually all really good--I don't have a complaint about any of them. Some of the one-episode villains can be annoying, but they're not there to stay, and it was only a few times.
It was the plots that made this so-so at first. They were of the "meh" sort, at first, but story arcs are beginning to develop, and now that the Flash-Dale relationship has appeared to stabilize (no more awkward, groan-inducing pseudo-romance scenarios), this is one of my favorite shows. I love the whole business with Aura's relationship with Ming, her father. It's interesting, and isn't the tired, overdone child-hates-father relationship.
I've never read the comics or seen any previous show/movie adaptations of Flash Gordon, so I can't compare, but the citizens of Mongo are believably oppressed, the characters (especially Aura, strangely enough) are deep and have realistic motivations, and the plot lines are getting better all the time. I really hope they pick it up for another season.
1. The portal- this is good because now Flash and the others can go back and forth between earth and Mongo. And it allows Flash's enemies to come to earth.
2. Flash's Father- having Flash be in search of his father gives him more of a reason to stop Ming instead of just deciding to save the world randomly, and it builds the drama.
3. Character changes- lets start with Flash Gordon, he seems a lot more like a small town hero than a pro athlete, which was a good change. Also instead of being big and ripped he looks more normal so the odds are a little against him.
Next is Dale Arden, when I watched it she struck me as very much a Lois Lane type which I thought was awesome, and having her be engaged to some one else is brilliant.
Finally Ming, Max Von Sydow was a phenomenal Ming no one can touch him. Although I disagree with the way Ming looks in the TV series, but having him be more of a dictator and the people of Mongo trust him was a good move on the developers.
OK so I gave you my input on the series and it is getting a bad rep already so just watch more than one episode before you bad mouth it. Also sources tell me Sam Jones aka Flash Gordon from the movie is doing a guest spot in the 9th episode which will be awesome.
Cast is great!!! I would love to see this show for more seasons.
Eric Johnson as Flash is just perfect.
Anna Van Hooft as Aura is very likable. She plays her part very well.
John Ralston adds just enough "evil".
It seems that every member is really getting into the characters that they play.
I think it's way cool that they are spending so much time on developing the characters and adding new groups of people every week.
The story is believable and has continuity.
I'm not sure why we need 10 lines.
Lots of cute chicks, sexy repartee, flirtations, and jealousy. Solid plotting, nice twists, surprises, and lots of sci-fi. So everyone is not naked, and no one uses four letter words, and the lead heroine is a virgin even though she is engaged - to the wrong guy of course. It's like sci-fi was back then, without the X rating.
And now the bad. Low production values but good enough not to get on your nerves. The acting is a tad, well more than a tad, wooden, but give the ensemble some time. These amateurs are just starting out, the director will improve too. They make up for it though by being very attractive, personable, likable, and and the script and dialog is better than they are, so it carries them and the show along.
Despite its weaknesses this is a sci-fi show thats entertaining, and positive. It sets a good example, and has lots of room to grow. I really liked it and the kids will love it. Beats the pants off the high razz-dazzle shows like Smallville, which wears after an episode or ten of shock, extremes, and special effects, all form and no substance. I have higher hopes for the show, but I can watch and enjoy it as is.
SCI FI give the money to star gate Atlantis or for another Babylon 5 movie. But 22 episodes of a sliders rip off.
I don't even want to say its flash Gordon I mean he is just a small town athlete, nothing that great and he is trying to save his father.
OH the acting sucks as well.
They could of at least used the music from queen and tried to make it campy. But nope.
If you want lines like "It's a political think-tank. Now THERE'S an oxymon", then watch FG. If you want garbage, then there's much more of it on the idiot-tube.
See it and enjoy the quirky characters, good dialogue, plot twists you didn't see coming, and how dangerous and self-deluded Ming is. Forget the morons who were in the stupid 1981 movie, since this is good television. You won't regret it.