We watch... so you don't have to.

The Television Event of the Evening!

Flash Gordon premieres tonight! Are you excited?

Oh, you're not. Okay, that's fine. Go ahead and be a jerk. I'll be over here, filled with glee. I actually got to see a screener of the first episode (that's just one of the perks of being an internet television critic; I also get 50% off my semicolons at punctuation.net), and it looked pretty good.

That is, the television show in my head looked pretty good. It turns out that "advance copies" are actually in advance of special effects. So the things I watched actually involved Flash Gordon and Dale Gordon running in fear from a very pleasant looking field. And a pickup truck being stalked by a ball on a stick, which I guess could be unnerving in the right situation. My point is that it's hard to really get into a sci-fi spectacle when the vast alien landscape is represented by a green curtain and a subtitle that says "alien landscape".

This is a statueOf course, I was helped a bit by getting to tour the sets, which are housed in a barn hundreds of miles from Vancouver, BC. They didn't have to blindfold us during the trip, because we had to leave at something like 4:00 am, which is like 9:00 the previous night to internet television writers. Anyway, we got to see cool set elements like this statue, which looks suspiciously like the cover of Atlas Shrugged. I assume it's going to be one of the things looming in the background, although I'm not ruling out the possibility of it coming to life and chasing Flash and Dale around. If they're not going to give me special effects, I'm happy to make up my own.

I did get a good look at Ming, though. Unsurprisingly, they've decided to move away from the Fu Manchu-style Ming from the original Flash Gordon comic strip (and awesome 1980 movie that I know is what you think of every time I mention Flash Gordon). He operates a bit more like a vicious CEO, I guess, although that doesn't mean he doesn't have a dungeon and a torture chamber. I mean, how are you going to run a planet without occasionally (i.e. "every single episode, if they know what's good for them") strapping somebody to a complicated piece of furniture and threatening them with an even more complicated doodad? That's how you keep people in line!

In fact, judging from the first episode, fans of people getting captured, escaping, and getting recaptured are in luck. And as it happens, I am in favor of that! I still prefer Flash Gordon as a serial, which means somebody ought to be in peril every fifteen minutes.

Ming's snazzy outfitAnd it helps if they're being menaced by somebody who knows how to dress. Since Ming no longer sports the four-foot moustaches, he can't really carry off the giant gold lamé lapels and red robes. So they've put him in this stylish number, because we all know that people who wear collarless jackets are up to no good. That was the real reason people burned all those Beatles albums, you know.

Anyway, not that I'm telling you not to watch, but it turns out the premiere will be on DVD on Tuesday. That's pretty quick work! While you're at the store, you might also be interested in the fact that the 1980 movie has just come out on DVD. Oh, wait -- that's me who's interested in that. Sorry about that.

Naturally, you will be wondering if I have maintained my objectivity after being lured by the outskirts-of-Vancouver insiders with their insider looks at statues, costumes, and the interior of barns. I can't promise that I haven't been lured over to the dark side. But I am going to be watching the premiere, even though I've already seen the non-SFX version.

Personally, I predict that special effects will improve the experience.


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