'Flash Gordon' Is a Flash in the Pan
Friday, August 10, 2007
Flash Gordon. What can you say. The fact is, there is a Flash Gordon for every generation and none of them are seamlessly comparable to the others. In our day and age, the most prominent is the 1980 feature film starring Sam Jones. Tonight, the Sci Fi channel launched the latest iteration, yet another in the long line of Flash Gordons meant to belong to a generation all its own. Still, it is difficult to watch without comparing it to what you know. For the sake of this Flash Gordon, that would preferably be nothing at all.
Sci Fi invested heavily in this series. Committing to a full season out of the gate and rolling out effective hype inducing buzz. For a while, the hype was hot. Then, this week, reviewers began to weigh in, and suddenly the entertainment press was getting serious chills for Flash Gordon. Serious chills.
As a member of the lineage, it is probably the most independent product. There is no space travel. Instead, the characters jump back and forth between Earth and Mongo through rifts, which look curiously like rejected Stargate effects sequences. So that feeling of being stranded on a strange alien world and fighting for the fate of mankind is nowhere in site.
The characters are surprisingly different. Flash is a young athlete who somehow gained local fame by winning three small time marathons, never getting a career job, and living with his mother. Dr. Zarkoff is part Monk, part pick-your-Revenge-of-the-Nerds-character. Dale is the girl who went off to the city, returned with a fiancée and a lingering crush for her high school sweetheart, Flash.
Ming the Merciless has, for the time being, dropped the Merciless and comes off more like a nasty politician presiding over a peasant economy. On Mongo, Ming is the man with the water.
Let’s be realistic though. Flash Gordon is as clichéd as you can get with not enough glitz to carry it beyond imitation. It’s a hodge podge part this, part that that never really feels like it has an identity. The characters are too readily accepting of bizarre circumstances, and the realism is a zero on the believability scale. Flash comes of more as a fools-rush-in type than a genuine hero and, in fact, really doesn’t display much in the way of heroics other than too much courage for too little brains. Time will tell if this dud will pay-off, but if Sci Fi channel’s confidence results in 21 more episodes like this, Flash could prove to be one of the channel’s biggest mistakes.
- Jon Lachonis, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of Sci Fi)