Aired on: Sci Fi Channel
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
Hello ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another installment of my world-famous, highly innovative, seldom duplicated, First Impressions. This week, I bring you my first impressions of Sci-Fi Channel’s newest series, a remake of the classic movie/cartoon Flash Gordon.
This incarnation of the old 80’s movie showcases Flash Gordon (Eric Johnson, Smallville) as a triple marathon winner who still lives at home with his mother, laments his missed opportunity with his high school sweetheart Dale (Gina Holden, Reunion) and mourns the death of his long departed father. The teaser showed Steven ‘Flash’ Gordon chasing down an RV, climbing on the roof and riding on the hood until the driver finally stopped, and all because Flash spotted the driver twice before on the same day—not exactly normal or believable behavior. The driver explains that Flash’s father was involved with a mysterious university project that may or may not have cost him his life.
Through a flashback, it is revealed that his father did not actually die in a lab fire as previously thought but was sucked into a dimensional gravity well that he was smart enough to help create but stupid enough to walk right up to it with a ‘look-at-the-pretty-lights’ expression on his face—believable?
The encounter leaves Flash convinced that his father may not be so dead after all, and he becomes obsessed with his father’s research. This obsession leads him to retrace the steps that took his father through a dimensional rift to another world. There on the planet Mongo, he meets up with an evil tyrant named Ming (John Ralston, Mutant X) who wants an invention that Flash’s father supposedly invented—the Imex. Flash eventually escapes with Ming’s daughter (Anna Van Hooft) and goes back to earth where Ming continues to pursue him and the Imex.
Anyway, that’s about as much I’m able to tell you about this pilot episode of the revised d Flash Gordon, because quite frankly, my brain shut down about halfway through. I know that the bounty hunter that was sent to recapture Flash was left stranded on Earth, leaving the possibility that she will return in future episodes open; why she did not continue to track Flash down or kill him or something, I do not know—neither did it make sense. I know that the show came off as about as campy a show I can remember in recent history. If they were trying for campy, the show might have faired better in my opinion, but the fact that it was obvious they were trying to remodel the old campy series into something modern and less hokey, only made it that much worse. I also know that their attempts to revamp the show, and in particular the character of Ming, fell completely flat. Aside from not being Asian, Ming was pretty much the same as the old Ming. And finally, I know that the plot moved along at a very forced pace and although the actors had some moments of competency, the overall story just fell short and did nothing to showcase their occasional talents.
Oh, and because I really don’t think anyone will care nor will they want to watch the show after my scalding review, I’m gong give you a spoiler. The Imex that Flash was searching for was hidden in his father’s old Timex watch—yeah, you read that right, and no the similar spell was not in any way an accident, but it was an insult. The Imex, a device so important, so highly classified that Flash’s father hid it in the watch of his 13 year old son, who was too stupid to even notice that if you flip the watch over, the back opens up and a holographic star chart appears. You think that would be something a child, teenager, or adult might notice, at some point. I know that Timex watches are supposed to last for a long time, but the kid never took it off, dropped it, or banged it into something—laughable. It’s also laughable to think that this Imex is so important and so coveted by Ming that he just waited around for over a decade before attempting to seek it out.
Overall, there was very little if anything to like about this show and I think its pretty clear by now that I do not intend to keep watching it nor would I ever recommend anyone watch it. Good job, Sci-Fi—you blow off a good show like Farscape, leave Battlestar Galactica on hiatus for almost a full year, but you pump money into crappy television-movies like Gryphon and even crappier remake shows. I’m surprised you guys even gave it a budget; why not just Mighty-Morphin-Power-Ranger it and splice old clips of the original Flash Gordon in with this one to save a buck—cuz you sure didn’t spend a lot of money on a plot.