I'll get right to the point: The Sci-Fi Channel version of Flash Gordon that debuted tonight was absolutely awful. Brutally, excruciatingly awful. Dull and drab where it should've been colorful and exciting. I can't think of a single positive thing to say about it, so instead, I'm going to spend this entry telling you what an ordeal watching the 90 minute premiere was.
There's a pretty good sized list of things you expect from a series bearing the name "Flash Gordon," and this series does an amazing thing by not delivering a single goddamn one. Howzabout high adventure on an alien planet, with swordfights, rebellions, extravagant costumes, hot alien babes, and hell-raising hawkmen flying through the skies? Here, have a series with some sullen punk with relationship problems who wants his daddy. Because we all know the Flash Gordon story was about complex interpersonal relationships and not action/adventure with rayguns. Like it? No? Too bad, because you're getting 22 more hours of it, since Sci-Fi picked up the full option before the initial showing.
Let me help you conceptualize my torment further: this was the equivalent of a version of Star Wars where Luke spends two thirds of the movie farming. Oh, and Darth Vader is some guy in a turtleneck who just stands around, and all you see of the Death Star is a corridor and a broom closet. Failing that, maybe an Indiana Jones movie where Indy just plays cards for 90 minutes.
Actually, Harrison Ford might pull that off, so forget I brought it up...
I don't mind new takes on old favorites, but there's a way to do these things and a way not to, especially with characters that have been around for over 80 years. If I thought, like I do with the new Dr. Who, that the people behind this project had a sense of the character's history and wrote their new version accordingly, I'd let it go. But this Flash Gordon feels like the writers found out on the day they were hired there was a character called "Flash Gordon" and wrote their pilot based on a heavily vandalized Wikipedia article.
Sam Jones was okay in the 1980 version, but this is the only Flash Gordon you really need:
Final verdict: Next Friday at 9, I'm flipping over to wrestling.