Published on August 9th, 2007 | by Erich Becker0
Flash Gordon – Pilot (01×01)
SciFi’s new Flash Gordon series takes a few pages from the highly successful relaunch of Battlestar Galactica and modernizes a classic series bringing in a new generation, but still able to bring in those nostalgic enough to give the series another look.
Starting as a comic before branching out into serials, movies, and subsequent TV relaunches, Flash Gordon has stood the test of time even while in the controversial eye because of its supposedly depiction of Asians, but none of that really relates to the re-imagined series which strives to put its best foot forward combining the cheesy effects and acting that we’ve come to expect from the serials of yesterday with the stories of today.
The 90 minute pilot introduces newcomers (and old fans alike) to the new Flash Gordon (Eric Johnson) and his sidekicks reporter Dale Arden (Gina Holden) and Dr. Zarkov (Jody Racicot) as well as introducing us to the not-so-merciless Ming (John Ralston) who is now more of a savvy businessman than dictator. He’s heartless all the same, but he doesn’t have the imposing image he did in some of the earlier visions of the series (and he’s not wearing spandex either).
The series plays out in a mix between comedy and drama never taking itself too seriously but never going for a punchline as well. There’s a fine line to be walked here, Firefly did it wonderfully while others have come up too much on the comedy side. It remains to be seen where Flash Gordon will end up in the delicate mix, and for that only time will tell. There’s an overarching storyline to find Flash’s father, who may, or may not be, alive somewhere on Mongo after being transported there thirteen years ago. Still the series will take on a story-of-the-week premise to move things along.
One of the strong points is capturing the atmosphere and lightheartedness of a serial in the form of a one hour series. What is bothersome though is the writing, particularly in the pilot, the dialog is almost cringe inducing at times and while it is suppose to move along at a brisk pace, simply writing off the fact that aliens now exist and I’ve been to another planet into next to nothing seems wholly unrealistic. How many people today are going to accept that fact so easily?
Even besides that fact, most of the character interaction is hokey, almost as if they aren’t talking like real people (maybe they’re the aliens). In the reviewable copy sent to the press not all of the effects were completed so only one can imagine if their cheesy nature falls in line with what we’d expect.
If you can sit through some poorly written parts, Flash Gordon is a fun way to spend a Friday night at home. Hopefully following episodes will be able to gel the characters better together and not sound like their lines were written by a ninth grade screenwriting class.
Flash Gordon premieres Friday, August 10 on the SciFi Channel with a 90 minute premiere. Check your local listings for time and channel.