One Fan’s Positive “Flash Gordon” Review

I have been reading and hearing allot of negative comments on the new Flash Gordon series and I believe everyone does have the right to their own opinion. However while I may be in the minority (very likely) I was hooked on this show from the beginning. Why I like it is that the hero Flash doesn’t start out as full fledge hero, he has a ways to go on that but eventually he will get there. I like the relationship between him and his ex-girlfriend and while it’s to early to say, I’m not seeing any sexual tension between the two which is a nice change of pace.

I love Mongo and how we are quickly learning about their world and the culture which through the writing makes it feel like a real place not some incredible fantasy world. Now I don’t know if any of you will have seen the second episode by the time you read this but I felt it was another solid entry. I just heard on your most recent voice mail show that you were saying Ming doesn’t appear to be very merciless and, yes he is not a mustache twirling villain, and based on his actions in the second episode, he is going to prove to be a bit more complicated.

Also I am surprised by the pace at which the series moves and again sorry for the spoiler if you haven’t seen the second episode yet, but I loved how quickly Flash was ready to go back through the rift to find his father without almost a second thought. I don’t recall the last time I saw that kind of character motivation and not to mention the previews for the third episode have Flash and bounty hunter going to back to Mongo. This show is moving at a very nice speed that is a pleasant surprise to me.

Finally, maybe my opinion is an unbiased one because I never saw the original 80’s movie or any of the series’ so I don’t have anything personally invested. So regardless I just love this series and I can’t wait to see what comes next but if it gets canceled because the 80’s sci-fi nerd club can’t stop complaining when they’re not playing D&D or using their inhalers then that’s going to make me mad. Again, I really like this show and I can see how much potential it has and what it could become.

I say just give it a chance and if you can’t get over the fact it’s technically not “Flash Gordon” the way you remember it then try this, just think of it like the new BSG haters, its Flash In Name Only or FINO as I have now just coined, lol. So if anyone has bothered to read this thanks for perusing my opinion of Flash Gordon and remember the beginnings of The Simpsons, MASH, Seinfeld, etc… were nothing all that great but they attained greatest after a period of time. Don’t forget that when this show becomes a smash hit this viewer was already ahead of the curve.

-Jayson C. Phoenix AZ


  1. says

    My problem with this Flash Gordon, as I stressed in my initial review of the pilot episode, has nothing to do with the 1980’s flick — other than the distinct difference between the acting styles of Topol vrs Racicot in the role of Zarkov.

    My problem with the pilot was the writing, the dialogue, the pacing and the totally disappointing performance of Ralston’s Ming.

    I have no problem with the network trying to re-imagine the Flash Gordon series, but please, stealing ideas from Sliders, Stargate and creating a Mongo that looks like it came right off the set of Riverworld…. This is not a re-imaging of a great cult classic, but a total rip-off of other ideas that have nothing to do with Flash except in name only. With that in mind, your acronym of FINO fits perfectly.

    I have watched the second episode, and while I didn’t have to struggle through it as much as I did the pilot, and it managed to keep me awake for the hour, I still found it woefully lacking in originality. I will say that in this second episode at least Ming was showing a little more of the kind of merciless attitude and behavior one should expect from such an iconic and well-established character within the halls of sci-fi villainy.


  2. fred says

    Now that I’ve seen the second episode myself and found aspects of it way too, let’s just say cliche. But it did strike a chord in me that it reminded me of the saturday morning sci-fi shows I watched as a kid.

    On that note, I think a lot of the younger kids would really dig this show.

  3. says

    Good review writing generally does NOT include insulting everyone who might disagree with your opinion via such comments as, “if it gets canceled because the 80’s sci-fi nerd club can’t stop complaining when their not playing D&D or using their inhalers then that’s going to make me mad.” Also, it’s “they’re”, not “their”. Good grief, how did this get published?

  4. Cross777 says

    I can see where you are coming from, you want to disregard all the Flash Gordon history and start fresh. Why call it Flash Gordon then? As for the Flash fans getting it canceled, like the horrendous PainKiller Jane Sci-Fi has already ordered a full season, so enjoy it while its on.

  5. Ben (UK) says

    A badly written, possibly insulting and somewhat ridiculous review. I am wondering why this was even posted on this site as a news story.

    It goes without saying that my views are different to what is in the review, what needs to be asked is why is this persons opinion even being voiced like this.

    Surely this would be better suited to a place in the forum.

  6. says

    Unlike articles I receive from our Slice of SciFi reporters, which I review and edit where needed before publication, I generally like to post comments or reviews from fans as I receive them from the fans, but to make everyone content, I went ahead and tried to clean up any grammatical mistakes in the above….such as they’re for their and it’s for its.

    I don’t feel a fan who takes the time to write us with his/her heartfelt feelings about a topic should be criticized simply because he/she may not have spelled something correctly or used the proper punctuation marks, but what they write should be measured only by WHAT is being said.

    Having said that, I agree with the above comment from Cross777 — why call it Flash Gordon at all if it is to be something so radically different from what Flash has been since the 1930’s? I still like Jayson’s original idea of calling the show FINO. Somehow that seems appropriate to me. :)

    I also posted this on the main page to give balance. So far, the only comments coming from us here at Slice, and from most of our listeners and readers has been negative toward the SCI FI Channel’s new Flash Gordon. I allowed this Fan Review to go on the main page because it adds an element not much heard and lends itself for further debate.

  7. says

    Watching the 2nd episode, I’m still underwhelmed. I’m willing to give it until Moonlight comes on in the fall to work out the kinks.

    My problems so far–

    The show can’t decide if what it wants to be. Does it want to play it all straight and take it self seriously or does it want to walk that fine line of self-deprecation that Buffy did so well. (If it does, it has a huge disadvantage of not having Joss Whedon at the helm IMHO). Does it want to be self-contained stories or is there an arc to the series? It seems to waver back and forth.

    Another issue is that show wants me to care about these characters but has yet to give me anything to care about. Flash is heroic, Dale is cute and Ming is evil. I should have been far more interested and compelled by Ming’s choice to let the wife of the water smuggler live and try to cure the sick child while still executing the father than I was. As it was, this whole plotline was so disconnected from the plotline on Earth that it felt tacked on just to show us–wow, that Ming sure is a b*****d, isn’t he?

    And that’s where this show is going wrong…it’s not giving us any reason to like or care about these characters. Add to that the plots are rehashes of old sci-fi cliches and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. I find myself thinking of season one of Buffy that was full of cliches, but it was about using those cliches to introduce us to the universe and set characters and events in motion. I get no feeling of that here…and that is why, so far, Flash Gordon has felt like a dismal misfire.

  8. says

    I don’t think Flash can even be called an “reimagining” as BSG has been. At least with BSG, the basic elements of the story remained – Cylons launch a surprise attack and nearly wipes out humanity and leaves it’s last remnants on the run under the protection of one surviving warship.

    I just don’t find a strong level of continuity at any level between this new Flash and previous incarnations beyond some basic character and place names.

    Perhaps we’ve all just become old and jaded by all the Sci-Fi, good, bad and ugly, that we’ve enjoyed over the last 10-15 years that much of the newer stuff like this that is coming out is being held to a higher standard than we would have in the late 80’s to early 90’s.

  9. EddieLa says

    I wasn’t aware Flash Gordon had a following. Wasn’t the only claim-to-fame of the 80s movie was the Queen soundtrack? Why is television re-hashing ideas from the 1930s? There are countless science fiction ideas to explore, yet TV and Hollywood is still stuck in the “Golden Age.”

  10. tlsmith1963 says

    The only good show on Friday nights is Doctor Who. David Tennant is ten times more interesting than that guy playing Flash.

  11. Maureen says

    I have to say that if the 80’s sci-fi nerd club members were watching this show they would love it. That is the problem with it. Since the 1980’s television writing has undergone a sea change. I’m not saying that there were no good sci-fi shows before the 1980s – I’m a Star Trek fan – just that there were many fewer good ones. In the 1980s, we saw the beginnings of a movement away from traditional writing formats on broadcast television. I remember an instructor for my broadcast writing class saying that for many years TV writers took a “string of pearls” approach to writing. As a general rule of thumb, each episode was self-contained. Story arcs over more than two episodes hardly ever happened and were frowned upon. Characters, while they may have had enormous, life-changing experiences in one episode, appeared in the next episode as though nothing had changed. In the 1980s this began to change. You could see the beginnings of the change in a program like Magnum, PI, with Magnum’s discovery of the existence of his daughter and search for her. At the beginning of the series he was a Vietnam vet working as a PI in Hawaii and embracing a second adolescence in an attempt to distance himself from his memories of the war. By the end, he has found his daughter and resumed his promising career in the Navy, having come to terms with his experiences. Magnum still, for the most part however, followed conventional TV writing styles. Hill Street Blues really turned the conventions upside down and TV was profoundly changed. Stories were not self-contained. They would arc over several episodes, or even seasons. For sci-fi TV, Babylon 5 did the trick – a story arc conceived to be plotted out over 5 seasons. I’m not saying that all TV has to be this complexly plotted. I will say that it is my preference. I find programs like Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, Lost, and Heroes, to be fascinating, engaging, challenging, and just plain fun. That’s not to say that I don’t like any programs that follow the older model. A program like Eureka is fantastic, although I would argue that it is more of a hybrid in its form – like Magnum. There is an underlying story playing out in the series – the alternate timeline created and terminated at the end of the first season and subsequent reactions to it. Eureka, however, shines because of its characters. They are funny, quirky, and engaging. I care about them. The same goes for Dr. Who.

    This brings me back to Flash Gordon. I never watched the 1980s incarnation of Flash in its entirety. I have seen a few episodes of the old 50’s (I think) series – just for the “hoot” factor. The problem that I have with this show is that it isn’t engaging. The first episode was just plain boring. My children, who would do almost anything to stay up after 9:00, fell asleep – this includes a 13-year-old boy who never goes willingly to sleep at 9:00. He was out by the end of the first half hour. The characters are one-dimensional cardboard cutouts. I want to care about them, but they do nothing to make that possible. The writing is terrible. There is nothing in it that can get me to suspend my disbelief in this world. It can’t make up its mind. Is it serious (second Battlestar series) or silly (first Battlestar series)? Is it intentionally campy (no), but I’m afraid that it is heading toward unintentionally campy. It reminds me of one of those dot-to-dot exercises that my younger son does in school. It goes from point A to point B mechanically. I’m sure that by the time they finish there will be some kind of picture, but I have an awful feeling that it will be a wobbly and uninspired one.

    My frustration comes from the fact that they would give this show and Painkiller Jane full seasons, yet cancel a show like The Dresden Files. Was Dresden spectacular TV? No. But it had characters that I cared about and had found its sea legs by the end of a first season that was handled terribly by its own network. The same could be said for Raines, which starred Jeff Goldblum and was shown on SciFi’s sister network NBC. This was a program, unlike Flash Gordon, that turned a cliché – he sees dead people – upside down and created characters that were complex and engaging. I remember reading a column by a reviewer who was apologizing to the people involved in making Raines and to TV viewers who might have been scared off by her review, saying that she had watched only the first episode, saw the whole detective who talks with dead people gimmick, and then wrote off the series. She later watched a second episode and was captivated by how the writers had taken the cliché, turned it upside down, and created spectacular television. She was apologizing because she could see that the show wasn’t going to be picked up and regretted that her review might have had some part in keeping the audience away.

    So, because I liked Dresden and loved Raines, I will watch a couple more episodes of Flash, but I don’t hold out much hope. I would love be able to laugh or cry with the characters. I wouldn’t even mind groaning at them in campy moments. I’m afraid, though, that all I’ll be doing is yawning.

  12. good god says

    who gives a frack what people think. Watch it if you want or waste your time reading bullshit from a bunch of nerds.

  13. says

    Good god almighty, you must be a nerd too because you not only are reading the articles and comments, but took the time to comment yourself.

    Welcome to the club. We always encourage new membership. 😉

  14. clgbutterfly says

    Not sure if the first got posted something happened. If it did I’m sorry. If not here’s what I said.

    Sci-Fi is currently showing off the fact that the Flash Gordon Premier got 2.1 million viewers. The highest series premier numbers for their station’s history. However, what were the numbers for last week? I watched the Premier with a mix of Flash fans; some old, some who knew who he was and some fresh neubs. The across the board census was a dislike for the show. The first outcry was why the characters were planet hopping. The beauty of Flash is that he gets stuck on Mongo and has to deal with the new world. Secondly, the main actors were better than the 80’s flick, but not enough to recover from bad writing and horrible costuming. Obviously they need a different costumer and makeup artist for the two worlds if we’re going to keep hopping back and forth because the Earth women looked like tartlets and the Mongo women didn’t look exotic enough. We are not even going to speak about this new Ming. I don’t know what they were thinking, but Ming is the classic evil ruler. He has always carried the Flash storyline and fan base. People love Ming. He’s like JR from Dallas, the man people love to hate. The worst thing about the whole show is the characters have little presence and you are not drawn into their stories. I am a strong believer of the 5 episode rule before I ditch a series, but I didn’t even make it through the second episode. I’ll try again, but I personally keep wishing that this show had never occured, for it will sour any attempt to make a good series for flash for another 20 years.

  15. clgbutterfly says

    Oh and finally where the hell are the opening credits and the reuse of the Flash Theme song they show in the teaser?

  16. Jason says

    clgbutterfly, episode 3 finally has an opening credits sequence but it doesn’t use the Queen theme song from the movie. I mean its a good song but Queens sound is to 80’s but the new music feels very adventurous.

  17. Brian says

    I’d have to disagree with this review. The show is horrible. Now I’m not one to grow up on Flash, I know very little about the Flash Universe. I never saw the 80’s movie either. So I watched this as a fresh new series in my mind.

    What a disappointment. They are rehashing stories from Star Trek TNG. Bugs with poison and the only cure is held by people that won’t easily give it up.

    Oh and the my Dad/Mom/Girlfriend is held captive on an alien planet/another dimension by aliens/robots etc, has been done to death. I think they could get a better motivation than that for his trip to mongo.

    But worst of all, the acting is horrible, the stories are trite, and the dialogue is remedial. What a disappointment. Time to flush Flash!

  18. Doug says

    Appalling! terrible acting, terrible script writing.
    After seeing the fine job of Battlestar Galactica I thought US tv makers had finally realised that quality in all areas is the key. No use having pretty boys and girls if they can’t act. I feel almost that most of them were interviewed on the casting couch.;(
    These are reasons why I don’t watch much TV nowadays.
    I am sorry if I offend anyone but I do so hate tv mush.

  19. Doug says

    I don’t mind cheese, it’s bad acting and writing that we are all paying for by the addon price for your advertised goods tv and elswhere that irks me. Make no mistake! We are paying for bad programming one way or another. I suppose dumbing down down is working if so many except these low standards :(. shame for us all.

  20. says

    Currently, Flash Gordon is a terrible show. One of the problems is they tried cross Flash Gordon with sliders dimension jumping. The resulting baby was better left dead. It would have been better to have a space ship as the transport between the two. What is the result is a cheaply made and low budget improvisation of Flash Gordon better left at the Improv. The cast consists of the cast aways from some failed TV shows of disasters past. These cast members are alumnus of the last very forgettable season of Andromeda and the long canceled Mutant X show.

    John Ralston as Ming definitely brings something interesting in a more Business Executive Ming. While Dale Arden and Aura are adequate the rest of the show is a tremendous let down. Mongo City is a CGI Cereal Box print from an Amiga 500 with very little imagination. Everything in the show is a cheap recreation of the original or an accountants rendition of Flash Gordon in 10 cents. There is no fantastic panorama of Mongo (and if there were you never see it (Except for 10 second teasers like the Phantom Menace (Er Phantom Penance))) or even stylish vision to the show everything looks cheap except for Ming, Aura and Dale. Even Farscape which probably had a higher budget 5+ years ago was more imaginative than this show. The show is really bland and better used as a prescription for insomnia. The show is really boring and doesn’t provide anything new in the old formula. The 1930s serials were probably more imaginative.

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