>TV Round-Up: Flash Gordon

…is what I wished they’d shown in this episode.

Instead, we got a muddled mess of an episode that alternated between dull and mind-numbingly dull. It’s not looking hopeful that this one is going to stay in my TV watching rotation too much longer.

I think the big issue the show is facing is that it’s struggling to find an identity. Does it want to have the same kind of self-deprecating humor that worked so well on Buffy, Angel and Firefly or does it want to play up the camp factor like Xena or Hercules or does it want to be a serious re-imagining of a campy idea from the past like Battlestar Galactica? Or is it trying to be all three at once and failing miserably on every account? I think the answer is more along the lines of the fourth choice.

You can see this show struggling with its identity in every scene. The thing with having the self-deprecating thing is the comments have to be a)funny and b)kind of insightful. And they’re not doing that here. Flash would do well to look at Buffy’s first season, when there were a lot of jokes and taking the mustard out of the old cliches of the genre, but it was all done to help us understand who the characters are and to set-up storylines and character arcs for the future. Here is feels like we’re getting a few random jokes thrown in because, golly, that sure worked well on Buffy and everyone seems to like that.

Part of where the show also suffers is that the two plotlines couldn’t be any more disjointed. After having every character on the show given a cursory introduction last week, the series wants and expects us to care about the characters and situations this week. And I can’t muster up any feelings for than, other than the female cast members are all visually pleasing to look at. Last week, Ming sent a female bounty hunter to take out Flash and the story ended with her trapped in our world. This week, she’s running around, creating havoc and doing…well, I’m not sure. Is she so devoted to Ming that she will still try and get the Imex back from Flash or bring him back to Mongo? Sure doesn’t seem that way since she moves into his house and doesn’t take a chance to go back to Mongo when she has it. Is she trying to escape her old life on Mongo? If so, then why not high-tail it out of town and away from where all the portals can open? And then in the end, why does she seemingly choose to join Flash’s merry band of people? Will she help him find his dad? Or is she just there to be the wacky, female-Worf wannabe of the show?

It’s all terribly, terribly confusing.

Meanwhile, over on Mongo, we’re trying to establish that Ming is evil. But we’re doing it in the least interesting way possible. I imagine when John Ralston got the role of Ming, he thought it might be…well, fun. In that way that Baltar on the original Battlestar Galactica was fun. But instead, we’ve got Ming the glorioius b*****d on this show. So, we capture a guy smuggling pure ice and he has to be executed. The only pure water on Mongo can be purchased from Ming. I am assuming this is how he hangs onto power. But then Aura asks him to save the guy because, hey, he was helping save his daughter. So, Ming helps the daughter but still kills dad. I suppose we’re supposed to feel outraged or go–man, that Ming is one bad dude in this scene. All I could go was–gee, Ming is a really, really boring villain. The thing with a good villian is he has to be absolutely convinced that he’s the hero of the show and I don’t get that feeling from Ming. To go back to the new BSG, if you went up and talked to Baltar, he’d tell you that everything he’s done is for a good reason and even though we may be horrified at it, we can sort of see the guy’s point. Not so much here with Ming. Instead it seems he wants to show off just how “evil” he can really be…or make sure Aura never asks a favor of him again.

And then there’s the whole–sending a bounty-hunter to get the bounty-hunter back. I still don’t quite get why Baraya is so important they have to bring her back.

So, unlike last week, when I was disappointed but had hope, this week I come away disappointed and wondering if I should even bother with the next episode. It may improve and they may be working out some kinks in these early episodes. Or these may be an indicator of things to come. I just can’t be sure and I’m not sure the show has done enough to make me really concerned if I see it or miss it.


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