Flash Gordon: An Insult to Fans and Viewers

Just watched the Sci Fi Channel’s version of Flash Gordon.

Dear sweet God in heaven that was bad.

I mean, would it have been that hard to track down some actors who could, you know, freakin’ ACT?  Or a director who could have brought any semblance of life to that travesty of a script?  Could they at least have avoided hiring the staff of writers who regularly pen the Sci Fi Channel’s weekly movies?

*shudder*

I’m generally pretty forgiving of cheese, and when the source material is even cheesier, I’m even more forgiving.  Flash Gordon, though, is one of the staples of science fiction, one of the original tropes that made the genre what it is today.  The Mike Hodges film of 1980 was cheese in every sense of the word, but it at least felt like they were trying to pay some sort of respect to the source material.  The Sci Fi Channel had no respect for the original source.  None.  This isn’t an homage or an honoring, it’s a wreck.  It’s an insult.  It’s to science fiction what the Dungeons and Dragons movie was to fantasy films: an insult to the fans.  An insult to the Sci Fi Channel’s viewers who enjoy Stargate, Eureka, and Battlestar: Galactica.  What in God’s name were they thinking?

To their credit, I notice that they very carefully omitted any possible mention of Dr. Zarkov’s name throughout the entire episode.  I can only imagine that they’re dreadfully ashamed of how they emasculated such a classically over the top character as Dr. Hans Zarkov and turned him into a squirrelly little nebbish who lives in an RV and who, while strangely knowledgeable about other dimensions and knows all the latest technobabble, can’t create a functioning weapon and is generally ineffective.  Dr. Zarkov is the ideal of the over-the-top super scientist, someone whose genius is only rivaled by his arrogance, who KNOWS he’s brilliant, and isn’t prone to making strangely-named weapons that don’t even WORK.

I was also frustrated with the show’s portrayal of the female characters.  While Dale Arden has never been the most effective female sci fi hero, in her past incarnations she was allowed to at least do something.  In this remake, Dale is supposedly a journalist, but shows very little inclination to do anything journalist-like; she takes no initiative, she reacts meekly to the events around her, and when she’s carted off to become Ming’s concubine, she doesn’t put up any fuss at all, even when the other concubines strip her of her almost practical outfit and replace it with a 12-year-old boy’s wet dream skimpy night dress.  Princess Aura seems to have no tools available to her whatsoever as an evil princess except a really awful attempt at seduction.  I can’t imagine that even Comic Book Guy would have been fooled by her.

And for God’s sake, why couldn’t they have hired an actress to play Flash’s mother who actually could have looked like an actual MOTHER?  Instead, they hired a woman just barely into her 30s, who’s really only three years older than the actor who plays Flash himself.  And her job, like the job of every other woman in the show, is to be manipulated by the bad guys; she gets no motivation, no actual story or plot, nothing, except to serve as an inconvenience to Flash himself.

I won’t be giving this series another chance.  It makes the Baby Jeebus cry.  Ordinarily I’d say that the level of disrespect to the fanbase and shoddy production values would make this show a valid reason to boycott the Sci Fi Channel and its parent network, NBC.  However, then we’d also have to avoid Battlestar Galactica and Eureka, two shows which at least have some good writing, good acting, and decently strong female characters.  But Flash Gordon almost makes me wonder if the trade-off wouldn’t be worth it.

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