I Find No Flash In This Gordon

Every so often I sit down and watch something on television, like I did last night, and think to myself: “I should like this show, this sort of thing is right up my alley,” but I don't. And that is when I start to wonder. Is it me? Is the show good and I'm just not seeing it? Is it good and I just don't care that it is? Or, is it them? Did they take a premise that I should like, a genre that I do like, or something else to otherwise enthrall me and then not deliver? Where exactly does the problem lie?

Last night, watching SciFi's Flash Gordon series this distressing problem reared its ugly head. It is a genre I like, a character I like, and a story I like. I have watched all the episodes that have aired so far (just a handful, but enough) and there is something there that just doesn't work. This time out, I don't think it's me, I think it's them. I think that the problem is that the show simply does not go far enough. The characters are all rather one-dimensional at this point and there are no clever plots, twists, or goings-on to make up for that.

The show continually has the sense that it's building to something, which is why I stick with it, but how much longer that will continue I can't say. There is going to be a moment, one hopes, when Flash is able to go back and forth between planets Mongo and Earth at will, and maybe that's when it will be fun. There certainly will be the opportunity at that point for the show to more fully explore the differences between Mongo and Earth and for Flash to get himself into all kinds of problems. But, right now, week after week, something from Mongo comes to Earth and Flash has to send whatever it is away, while making sure that no one finds out about what's happening. Not a terribly original idea the first time the show used it, but by the third and fourth time the episode follows this same formula it gets terribly dull.

Then there is Flash's would-be love interest, Dale, who just happens to be engaged to someone else. Again, not so creative. And the fact that the fiancé is a detective and Dale has to worm information out of him week after week without telling him what's happening? Yup, not so creative. It creates tension, which is why they must be using the device, but there's nothing to it that we have not seen a million times before, which makes it a dull sort of tension.

But still, I tune in week after week. Why? Because, one day, Flash will start spending more time in Mongo and the show will have to get at least a little creative. It really is only in the moments that the characters are not on Earth that there is a spark to the show, a flash of what could be.

So, I sit, and I wait, and I hope. One day, if the budget allows and if the show doesn't get canceled first, Flash will spend a lot of time on a different planet, Dale will dump the fiancé (or the tension between her and Flash will disappear), Ming the Merciless will be a real character, and maybe, just maybe, fun will be had. That will be a good day.

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