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11 August 2007 @ 09:43 pm
Flush Gordon  
If the mood and title don't tip you off, I'll say it outright: based on the pilot, just skip Sci-Fi's "re-imagining" of Flash Gordon.

Where to begin with what all is wrong with this mess? Well, let's get one thing out of the way now: I'm aware that this is a pilot. I'm not going to twit the show on things that are brought about by it being a mere pilot. For instance, the special effects aren't great. They're also not lousy and, by the standards of a pilot and the tight budget that means, are passable. I suspect that future episodes with expanded budgets will have improved effects.

Unfortunately and to be quite blunt, you can't polish a turd. No amount of good special effects is going to make a show with bad writing watchable, and this show has bad writing to spare. The basic tale of Flash Gordon, Dale Arden, and Hans Zarkov as they first arrive on Mongo is set and makes as much sense as it needs to in relation to the rest of the tale. To change it now and to add extraneous plot hooks is needless and frankly irritating. It doesn't help that the major hook the writers have used is more lame than the original.

This brings us to the characters. Flash and Dale are okay. Seriously, the casting choices were good and their performances were acceptable. Let's move on to Hans Zarkov. From a traditional place of prominence, he is reduced to being a comical sidekick. Worse, while he was always something of a "mad" scientist, he at least wasn't a shivering, quivering clown afflicted with OCD.

Those of you who know me and who saw this travesty know my main complaint, though. Ming. The archetypal alien Evil Overlord. The Merciless. Emperor of Mongo. Machiavelli with a devil's goatee. Fu Manchu of the Cosmos. The old comics, the serials, even the campy movie, all of them remembered to treat this character with a left-handed respect. Ming is vain, arrogant, and has a twisted sense of honor. If he respects you enough to give you his word, he will keep it to the letter. He will sneer and monologue like a Shakespearean actor; he can command your torture and death while enjoying a canape.

Thing is, Ming? He is not a pissy, whiny water merchant. He is not a corrupt businessman with a sassy temper. He does not shout, he does not bitch, and he definitely... I mean NEVER... prevaricates. He doesn't beat around the bush or lie to your face just to trick you into telling him something he thinks you know. He does not know the phrase, "I'm sorry," except as something people say before he has them executed for disappointing him.

When they first showed this guy, I was hoping he was a minor functionary or even a mid-level lackey. I just kept thinking, "They're just waiting, just a delay before revealing the Emperor. This weasel is just a speed bump in the story." Kept hope alive... until someone referred to him by name. It wasn't "my lord" or a formal introduction of the Emperor. It was a lackey, addressing him directly. A lackey. Called the Emperor. By name.

I'm going to be fair and give this show two more episodes to either grab me by my collar or to beg for my forgiveness. After that? I'll ban this thing from TiVo so hard, Prince Vultan will be wondering what the hell it was that just fell past his winged canton. What will it be? Flash Gordon's ratings, hopefully taking this show down with them so the clock will reset on the next attempt to revitalize this old property.

P.S.: If the current holders of Buck Rogers are watching? Take a lesson on how not to do things.
Current Mood: disappointeddisappointed
Current Music: opening theme to Law and Order: SVU
(Deleted comment)
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on August 12th, 2007 04:06 am (UTC)
Exactly. I could have forgiven a lot from this show, I really could. I wanted to like it, truly. I want high-quality sci-fi shows on the air. I don't mind "re-imaginings" on the basis that they aren't perfectly faithful to the source material. Battlestar: Galactica has taken sweeping liberties with the source material, for instance, but it's been a truly fine program.

But... they made mockery of Ming. This cannot be forgiven. At this stage, all I can hope for is that episodes from a full production season will move away from that first characterization. They're truly behind, though. They've got a lot of ground to win back from this watcher's point of view, and they don't have many episodes in which to do it.
Dereklordruthven on August 12th, 2007 04:19 am (UTC)
What, GaryColeLookalike the Merciless isn't doing it for you?
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on August 12th, 2007 03:17 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I can do without the Emperor Harvey, Birdman of Mongo.
Dereklordruthven on August 12th, 2007 06:09 pm (UTC)
Vultan kicked him out of the tribe, now he is mad an wants revenge.
Sorciasorcia on August 12th, 2007 02:50 pm (UTC)
Yeah...I have to admit that Ming kinda disappointed me. There's something just in the LOOK of him that makes the character. Hell, his DAUGHTER was more Ming-ish than he was.
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on August 12th, 2007 03:18 pm (UTC)
Yeah, and I'm not exactly thrilled with their Princess Aura, either. She is at least close to being right, though.
docjeff on August 12th, 2007 06:34 pm (UTC)
I didn't even bother. When they announced the cancellation of Dresden Files, I wrote SciFi off as worthless. I'll wait for the DVDs of Battlestar Galactica, can watch Doctor Who on CBC and there's nothing else they have that I care about.