I have been eagerly anticipating the return of “Flash Gordon” ever since we first got wind of it going into production early last year for the SCI FI Channel. I say that because then you will understand how disappointed I was in last night’s pilot episode of the new series. I’m just happy that the “Doctor Who” episode that preceeded it was as good as it was, or it would have been a totally wasted SCI FI Friday.
The show opened with very brief introductions of Flash, his business partner Nick, Dale and her new fiancÃ©. After that highlight, it began plunging into a mundane, highly predictable, slow moving, jumbled up mess of seemingly unconnected scenes and an unbelievable storyline.
Eric Johnson is adequate as Flash, and given time, he will probably grow into the role just fine. However, the same cannot be said for Jody Racicot as Zarkov and John Ralston who portrays Ming. It seemed as if Racicot was an after thought and he comes off as this bumbling fool…maybe I’ve just been spoiled after watching the wonderful Topol be Dr. Hans Zarkov in the film from 25 years ago. His performance as Zarkov was flawless. I will give Ralston a break though. I understand that he is trying for a different take on the bad guy Ming. Yet, I kind of liked my Ming the Merciless to be over-the-top and a bit mad. Ralston’s Ming is your typical power hungry, loves-to-hurt-others despot. I don’t need to watch what I see everyday in real life across the globe on Friday night in a television program that is suppose to transport me to a scifi world of make-believe and escapism. Yes,I want my Ming to be ruthless, unscrupulous, vicious, but I also want him to have some flair and a sense of humor. These are sadly lacking in Ralston’s portrayal, at least in this pilot episode. Perhaps he will loosen-up a bit in future episodes.
I think the one bright spot in this series will be Karen Cliche, the young actress who plays the bounty hunter Baylin. She’s smart, brash, very pretty, tough as nails and has got a great sense of humor and almost perfect cadence in how she performs her scenes. She kind of reminds me of Claudia Black in that regard. So, if I would have one really good thing to say about this new “Flash Gordon” it would have to be that the producers were wise to include this actress in the casting because she will be this show’s one saving grace. I know that is what will make me want to watch it again next week.
Aside from the fact that I dosed-off on two separate occasions while watching this pilot episode, I will give the show a couple of more chances to bite me in my scifi soft spot. But for now, on my Uncle Sam scale of 0 to 5 stars, the most I can muster is stars.