Sa-a-ave Flash Gordon!

As we all know, Flash Gordon will

Sa-a-ave the Uni-verse!

And now folks, it’s our time to save Flash Gordon. He’s in danger because the people who made the original program have no idea what the hell they are doing. The ratings dropped by half from the premiere to the second episode.

Flash being a guy who’ll risk his life to save the universe from Ming, we must risk our credibility as anonymous Internet posters to save Flash, by posting whatever harebrained, whackadoodle schemes we can come up with to save the series on a message board which probably isn’t read by the producers of Flash Gordon, but MIGHT be read by 1 or2 people in Vancouver, Canada, where the show is produced. And that could produce a chance … a slim chance, but a chance nonetheless … that someone from Vancouver might read these ideas and be so overwhelmed by one of them … problably my idea, but maybe someone else’s, strange stuff happenes sometimes … and then be so moved that they go out and kidnap a Flash Gordon exec from the set of the series where they are filming the next 11 episodes that have already been paid for, and force them to listen to the idea, and then the exec is so overwhelmed by the idea that they retool all the remaining episodes based on the new idea, and it’s a HUGE SUCCESS and Flash gets bought for another year.

It …

So fire away, already. Flash is in dire straits! And anyway, there’s no ep of Flash to snark about this week, so might as well give it a shot.

It’s pretty clear that the people who created the Flash Gordon series don’t understand why people enjoyed the original Flash Gordon. The original series offered both Thrilling Wonder Super Science cheese and Exotic Adventures in Foreign Lands cheese.

Thrilling Wonder Super Science cheese isn’t all that hard to do. There’s a SciFi Channel series that is doing a topnotch job of delivering that brand of cheese right now: it’s called “Eureka.” Every week the wacky scientists of Eureka come up with some strange new invention or project, or unexpected side effect of a strange new invention or project that Sheriff Carter has to deal with.

It is topnotch thrilling wonder super science cheese with good writing and characterization to boot, I happily watch it every week.

The orgiinal Flash Gordon series delivered the thrilling wonder super science cheese with its stubby spaceships and ray guns and so forth, and it worked because that was new and exciting stuff to see in a movie or TV series at the time. It won’t work now because it’s old hat: to reuse it you just about have to do it as camp, like the 1984 Flash Gordon movie did, and the Flesh Gordon parody did, both to good effect/

Updating the thrilling wonder super science cheese won’t be hard, just give the Mongonians nanotech and artificial intelligences and they’ll be fine.

Unfortunately, the Mongo that we’ve seen so far looks, well, primitive and dirt poor. Feudal. Not the sort of place you’d expect to find advanced super science in. Frankly, the impression I’ve gotten of Mongo is that a single armored cavalry division from ANY of the world’s top 20 or 30 armies could take the whole planet without a whole lot of bother. With the excepton of Ming’s palace, the place is a dump.

(Of course, it’s easy enough to handwave away Mongo’s primitiveness by postulating that the Mongonians inherited super science tech from a more advanced earlier civilization, making them dangerous for all their apparent primitiveness, but no one has bothered to do that yet.)

Otherwise, if they want Mongo to look dangerous and advanced, it ought to look richer than Earth, not poorer.

The other cheese that the original Flash Gordon delivered was strange adventures in exotic lands. This cheese cannot be served by having Flash spend so much of his time wandering around the outskirts of Vancouver, Canada. He needs to be on Mongo, seeing strange and exotic plants and animals, meeting with strange and exotic peoples, and visiting strange and exotic cities full of weird looking buildings and such.

(I have to say, if the creators of the series had even a HINT that this kind of cheese was part of what viewers want when they watch Flash Gordon, in the most recent episode when an animal came to Earth via a stray rift (an excellent plot device, BTW) they would have delivered something different than a slightly larger than Earth sized dragonfly. Maybe a flying snake with glowing green eyes and batwings. Something, you know, exotic.)

Of course, it does take money to really do nice sets and great CGI graphics and such to totally deliver that otherworldy look. But I think viewers would accept a little tacky so long as they’re delivering the cheese. And frankly, the mistakes that have been made so far have been products of not knowing what they’re doing rather than just budgeting. For example, it probably would have cost no more to deliver a CGI flying batwinged snake lizard than it took to deliver that slightly larger than earth sized CGI dragonfly.

And there’s an additonal bit of cheese that could help a lot: sexy cheese that plays into the Exotic Lands cheese. Start all the costume design for Mongonian women with string thongs. Add a few wisps of silk, some metallic armbands, headbands and whatnot, and stop right there. Fanservice has always worked for any kind of medium whose audience is primarily male, no reason it wouldn’t work for Flash. Hell, have the guys run abound in jogging shorts and shoulder harnesses and nothing much else if you want to be sexually egalitarian and all. (Though you really need to remember that your core audience is male and straight and put the cameras on the gals most of the time.)

Cheese theory alone won’t make a show a success. You still need good writing and characters. But cheese theory does help deliver good writing, because it forces writers to think about the audience appeal of their works.

There, I’ve said what I have to say, in a place where it has a snowball’s chance in hell, if not much more than that, of doing some good. I have done as much to save Flash Gordon as any human being not employed by the series may reasonably be asked to.

Nudity. Massive amounts of nudity.

And explosions… lots of explosions - preferably with some space craft involved now and then.

1920’s-style death rays. What else?

Recast Ming. He should truly look merciless, rather than mildly dyspeptic. Max von Sydow
looked properly Satanic, with his chrome-dome, Van Dyke beard and menacing arched eyebrows.

And hire the writers who did all the Captain Proton episodes on Voyager. Maybe get Robert McNeill to direct them, even.

Flash Gordon, sports star and adventurer, wakes up from a dream – in bed next to (a recast) Dale Arden.

His mother in that dream can stay around – that actress can kinda act. Dale Arden in his dream (who looked exactly like his mother), is his sister. He’s kind of disturbed by that. Baylin in his dream looked just like his mother when she was younger. He’s really disturbed by that.

Dream-Ming and dream-Zharkov are his manager and one of his fawning and creepy fans. We don’t see them anymore once he’s left Kansas for Oz. Er, Mongo.

Right. The dream turns out to be a side-effect of a device built by the real Zharkov. Let’s say he’s being played by, oh, Jeffry Combs. He’s detected the threat from Mongo, and built his device (with disturbing side-effects) to find the one person who can – AAAH-AAAH! – save the Earth. Er, Universe.

Sure, they can get to Mongo by those portal thingies, whatever gets the budget in. Dale goes along because they’ve decided to write her as a strong modern woman with ideas and a career of her own but who has an awful time keeping her wardrobe intact and so tends to end up running around in slave girl outfits while daring Flash to make any comments since he’s pretty much down to ripped-shirt-and-loincloth most of the time.

Mongo has been completely redecorated in Art Deco kitch, at the behest of it’s whimsical and tyrranical ruler – Ming the Merciless. Played by somebody who’s actually Oriental and knows how to chew some scenery. 'Cause that’s why he decorated with all the Art Deco, after all. And his daughter, Aura, can be Oriental too, and wear crazy dresses cut up to here, as long as she threatens Dale and/or Flash with assorted sexy deaths for offending her.

And – whups! – they’re stuck on Mongo because Zharkov doesn’t quite know why. Sure, the part of Mongo they’re stuck on can look just like Vancouver as filmed through a filter, if that helps the budget. Various exotic races that look both human and like humans with latex prostheses or makeup show up – including Hawk-men with wings and not damn flappy trenchcoats because that was an another annoying side-effect of Zharkov’s damn machine, thankyouverymuch.

And since that’s wrapped up the real pilot (hey, that other one? just kidding! ha-ha.), the credits-with-previews roll to the sound of that remake of Queen’s Flash Aaaah-ah! song because the damn thing has been paid for so may as well use it.

It would certainly work for me, but realistically, the Sci-Fi network doesn’t DO actual nudity. However, theyve been known to let costumes get skimpy almost to the point of near nudity. I need point no further than the string thong wearing Cassandra in the recent showing of the Sci Fi original movie Supercroc to make my point. Watching her jiggle as she ran from the croc was one of the high points of the show. I don’t see why large portions of the female population of Mongo couldn’t wear futuristic string thongs, or barbaric string thongs.

The ORIGINAL Flash Gordon comic strips had female Mongonians attired in sexy and revealing costumes for their time – definitely the equivalent of string thongs today. But it appears the present series producers are backsliding in this respect.

But of course. Also, ancient citadels/artifacts whose recently discovered mysteries will now forever remain question marks (until the writers run out of ideas and decide to reuse the artifact, etc. plot) could blow up good.

Boo-yah! Only you could update with modern terminology, even while keeping the form and function of the old death rays. Borrow from Mechwarrior and call the handheld models “Pulse lasers” and the floor models “plasma cannons.” It would be good because at present Mongo looks poor and primitive, like your average armored cal division from present day Earth could take 'em down with no trouble.

Agreed. Practically everyone except the producers have noticed this.

I missed those. What’s up with Captain Proton?

I would COMPLETELY buy that version of Flash. With the minor addition that Aura will also be constantly attempting to seduce Flash away from Dale, which means lots of VERY skimpy costuming, perhaps even strategic nudity, for Aura, and lots of being captured and put in sexy peril for Dale.

Captain Proton was the hero of the fictional serial “The Adventures of Captain Proton” (for all intents and purposes, Flash Gordon) of which Tom Paris was an afficianado. Tom and other crew members would occasionally play through a chpater of the serial on the holodeck, which were shot in black and white. Inevitably something would go wrong, since it involved the holodeck, and they’d end up trapped in the serial or the Ming analog “Chaotica” would take over Voyager or some damn thing.

All the suggestions here are good (so long as the boys’ costumes end up as skimpy as the girls’) and to add one, get (the recast) Ming into a cape with a pointy collar, stat!

Reminds me: they need to add a good-looking Prince Barin, stat. There have to be two love triangles (Aura-Flash-Dale, Barin-Aura-Flash), not just Flash and a harem.

And, really, the more pointy Ming’s wardrobe is, the better.

Have you seen the 1954 TV series Flash Gordon? Not only did Dale spend most of her time dressed in the 1950’s equivalent of spandex, but nearly every episode provided some pretext for Flash to remove his shirt. For a children’s TV show, there was some odd subtext in that series.

I don’t demand that they recast Ming. Just shave his head and make him grow a beard. And wear a cape.

Screw the slightly-larger-than-earth-sized-dragonflies. They should spend their CGI budget on the Hawk-Men’s wings.

Their intent seems to be to have Baylin replace Barin. Which raises some interesting possibilities with Aura. If the network censors allow it.

That’s kinda what I was getting on a about with my post about string thongs. If you look at the very consevative standards of the time, you’ll see that the women of Mongo were decked out in clothes that were as outrageous for their time as string thongs are for these times … i.e., stuff that would only be found on beaches, in trendy nightclubs or high fashion.

But the producers of the current Flash, bless their hearts, are not bringing the sexy. They’ve got some hot babes in the cast to work with, but the outfits are, frankly, drab by the standards of Flash’s canon.

I keep misreading this to say “make him grow a pair.” Or am I misreading?

From what I’ve seen of their movies and series like Lexx, SciFi isn’t all that into censoring. I’m betting timid producers.

From what? Being cancelled?

Sorry, I’m not gonna play. I watched the pilot and it was awful. Save the viewers, can the show.

FG could have gone for camp, or having being re-invented to something gritty BSG-style. However, they decided to play it straight and it simply doesn’t work that way in 2007.

I just got around to watching the pilot last night. It was awful. Really, really awful.

The sooner this show dies, the sooner someone else can try again.

It was sooooo awful, I’ve seen better acting in porn films.

Awful, awful, awful.

I’ll probably keep watching.

As somebody pointed out to me in the pilot’s thread, there’s an imdb credit for a Barin, so he just hasn’t shown up yet. Probably off hiding in shame for being associated with this crap.

The really worst thing about it all is that it’s a really bad show – but not bad enough to make it fun to watch. I eyerolled my way through the pilot, but aside from occasionally reading these threads haven’t been willing to put my eyes through the strain again.

Sci-Fi is such a bizarre channel: sometimes you find gold (BSG, Eureka, Dr. Who) hidden amidst the turds they air; most times, it’s rot grubs

The one thing I like about this version is the humor. But the rest …

Yes, get Flash into some interesting costumes, and Dale out of them. The one episode of the 1954 Flash has reminds me of the Firesign line “All those curves showing through that flimsy burnoose.” We can do better than that.

Dr. Zharkov needs to be blown up in the lab, and his brother, the real Dr. Zharkov, needs to take over. Zharkov in the serials was the brains of the outfit, and nothing like the dweeb we’ve got now. This one seems barely competent to be washing glassware.

Get the rifts off the earth, and require the new Zharkov to build a spaceship to get through one. A Flash Gordon without a spaceship is stupid.

We need more peril. The old series had Dale in danger of not rape, but something worse, being forced to marry a gasp Asian. The pilot had a bit of this, we need more. Flash in danger of getting his cojones truncated just don’t do it.

A question - how come people making a porn movie with a miniscule budget can do better than a TV series? I saw Flesh in the theater, before its cojones were chopped off for the re-release, and it worked as both porn and scifi.

Yeah, they should keep the humor, but they’re gonna need more.

I’d love to know what thoughts, if any, the people who produce Flash have had WRT this issue. It’s so obvious.

Yeah, it doesn’t bother me quite so much as some of the other stuff, but the guy who plays Zharkov looks and acts too much like “the guy who drinks too much beer and is incoherent a lot” in a teen sex comedy.

I don’t get this at all. whaddya want, those stubby ships that poot cigarette smoke out their rear ends? Is this a nostalgia thing or what? Because the rifts make a lot more sense scientifically and do just as well, if not better for going from Earth to Mongo and vice versa.

I agree about the peril. There should be a sense of them getting into dangerous situations that are hard to escape from. I mean, Dale was about to be a Ming harem girl but her escape consisted of pretty much just leaving the harem. (Reminded me of the prison break in “Idiocracy.”

Now, as for marrying an Asian, that worked back in the 50s when we’d just fought a war with Japan and there was still a lot of hatred and fear floating around because of all of the terrible things they did. But nowadays when I think of Asians I think of A) smart and B) nice. This is probably as much of a stereotype as the other, but I suspect I’m not alone in this respect, in fact, I think it’s the common stereotype right now. I just don’t think the old yellow peril is gonna work.

That is a DAMNED good question. One of the answers is that despite the minimal budget, they managed to hire some incredibly good talent at the dawn of their careers. I’m not talking about the actors so much as the crew: a lot of now-famous names on that cast list who were unknowns at the time. My suspicion is, there wasn’t a lot of work out there for them when Flesh Gordon was made.

But you do have to wonder how they managed to get an alien world look so cheaply when it seems unpossible for SciFi Channel programs. I mean, I’m starting to associate space with Canada.

It reminded me of Dale’s escape in the 1980 movie, where she got the slave girl drunk and switched outfits and then went on to kick the snouts in on a few of those gas mask-wearing guards (a scene which was inexplicably cut from at least some of the VHS releases and TV airings, but is on the DVD). I thought that whole sequence from the pilot might have been an homage to the film.