Even though I was in agreement with John’s review of Flash Gordon, I didn’t feel I could just give up on the show after one 90-minute episode. I decided to watch the second episode this past Friday night.
Yeah, I gave up 30-minutes in. I’m done, here’s why.
There are a number of reasons why Flash disappoints, first up is the acting. I find the acting to be serviceable at best, and downright poor most of the time. I never see any chemistry between any of the characters, which is bad considering the Flash/Dale/Baylin triangle should have some sort sparks flying, but it doesn’t. Aside from the odd glance between characters, there’s nothing there. Flash is OK, but Dale doesn’t seem up to the task, Baylin seems to have a pained grimace as her only expression, Zarkov is just plain manic, and Ming is disappointingly vanilla. Heck, the second bounty hunter sent to track down Baylin couldn’t even act like a savage very well. Maybe it was the voice augmentation. Even by Sci Fi standards, the acting here is sub-par.
The writing isn’t all that great either. The whole Mongo as another dimension thing is alright, but in practice, it’s really just a way to avoid writing in spaceships and expensive special effects. John noted some inconsistencies in the pilot, and they continued with the second episode. Why would the new bounty hunter kill the first security guard, but not the more annoying Park Service guy? Mongo is supposed to have water trouble, but explain to me why the city seems to be in a forest, with lots of trees, and why it has huge waterfalls on its outskirts? And just how, exactly, do you smuggle glacier ice in a non-refrigerated golf cart and not expect the dripping water to be noticed? Poorly done. And the humor, and I use that term loosely, is really forced. The Park Service guy was supposed to be the comic relief for this episode, but he came across as an annoying conspiracy theorist, rather than as funny. In fact, there is nothing remotely funny in the show, unless you find humor in how bad the show is.
But perhaps the biggest problem with Flash Gordon is it lacks any style or identity. It doesn’t know what it wants to be. Perhaps, if it were shown later, Sci Fi could have gone with a darker, more mature tone like Battlestar Galactica. They could have done so much with Ming in this case, but they chose not to. Instead, we get a mish-mash of tones, never settling down into anything other than uncomfortably bad. The other big problem is there is no style to the show. The whole thing comes across as bland. Eric Johnson is a decent looking Flash, but that’s it. There is nothing visually arresting about the show at all. I keep waiting for the Stargate SG-1 team to show up and start kicking Mongo butt. And aside from being overexposed and washed-out, Mongo is dull and flat. Even Ming’s outfit is boring. Good grief, look at the movie from something that, while not a great story, has a ton of style. Compare Max Von Sydow with John Ralston, there’s no contest. Compare the two Auras, or the Dales. Plus several million points for style to the movie, as Zaphod might say.
All of the above results in a complete lack of fun. There’s absolutely no reason for me to tune in any longer, and Flash has been removed from my DVR list. For a show that has such history behind it, Sci Fi’s effort comes in at the very bottom.
Which is too bad. If they could have tapped into the Eureka vibe, it could have been a decent show. Heck, going for camp while making it visually appealing would have worked too. I can only assume that the number one priority for this version was keeping it low cost. Everything seems to have been done in an effort to keep the budget small. I was rather looking forward to this show as something fun to watch with my wife on Friday nights, but I want to stay married. Do yourself a favor and watch something else instead.