Couch Tater: When it comes to the Sci Fi channel, I’m willing to cut them a whole lotta slack. After all, they’ve given me hours upon hours of excellent programming in the form of FARSCAPE, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and EUREKA. And their cheestacular original movies are a major guilty pleasure. But when it comes to the network’s latest offering, FLASH GORDON, I’m afraid they’re eating up a whole lot of my good will toward them. There’s so much wrong with this show that it’s hard to know where to begin, but I’ll start with leading man Eric Johnson. In a way, he’s symbolic of everything those involved with the show did wrong. After all, Johnson was perhaps the most lackluster regular during the early days of SMALLVILLE, where he played Lana-lovin’ footballer Whitney Fordman. Here, Johnson heads up a show that could have been the next SMALLVILLE, but instead plays more like a bad episode of BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25th CENTURY.
theTVaddict: Talk about harsh, Couch Tater! Have the endless summer reruns finally taken their toll? FLASH GORDON is mindless summer fun, and frankly a welcome diversion from the endless horror that is reality TV. That said, if the first episode of FLASH is any indication, the show really needs to find its voice. Is FLASH GORDON going to be a gritty and realistic re-imagination (similar to that of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA)? Or is it taking the same route as the corn-ball cheesefest 80’s movie some of us have come to know and love? I think with a show like this, we really need to give it a few episodes to see where it’s going. Because as of episode one, I’m not exactly seeing how this isn’t simply another STARGATE/SLIDERS/QUANTUM LEAP incarnation.
Couch Tater: I think you’ve nailed it on the head with the STARGATE analogy, and that right there could be the problem. I’m definitely not a fan of that particular sub-genre of sci fi. I much prefer my space operas to be less campy. Like STARGATE, this incarnation of FLASH features a plethora of familiar-sounding, quasi-scientific words (there’s lots of talk of “rifts” opening and closing), all being spouted by characters right out of Central Casting. We’ve got the vaguely attractive hero (Johnson), the wacky scientist (Jody Racicot’s Zarkov) and a beavy of beauties in a variety of rolls, all of whom are pretty much indistinguisable. If our heroine, Gina Holden’s Dale Arden, was put in a line-up with the various women from the planet Mongo, I can’t say I’d be able to pick her out. Assuming, of course, they were all wearing those cool slave girl costumes the Mongo chicks don. Speaking of our time spend on Mongo, one major problem is with villain Ming. Those of us dug Max von Sydow’s take in the 80’s big screen feature may be surprised to find that here, Ming is more misquetoast than merciless. And that, my friends, is a major problem.
theTVaddict: While I don’t agree with your assessment of star Eric Johnson (I actually think he does a good job playing Flash), I do agree that Ming needs some serious work. Perhaps it’s just me, but when I hear the name Ming, my mind turns to an evil, terrifying dictator. John Ralston’s take comes across as sort of a B-list Bond baddie. (You know, the kind who dies thirty minutes into the movie to make way for the real evil mastermind). If FLASH GORDON really wants to find a place on my TiVo Season’s Pass list, it’s going to have to really kick it up a notch in the bad guy department. Or risk being cancelled in, well… a flash.