Thursday, 18 April 2013

DVD Review - Flash Gordon: The Complete Series

Flash Gordon: The Complete Series
Starring: Eric Johnson, Gina Holden, Karen Cliche, Jody Racicot
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Release Date: April 16, 2013
Discs: 4
Features: None
Run Time: 963 minutes
Rating:  TV-14


Flash Gordon was a popular 1930's comic strip by Alex Raymond and ended its run in 2003. In 1935 it became a weekly radio series. The comic made its way onto the small screen in the live-action 1954-1955 series and the animated 1979-1980 series. Three more short-lived cartoon series followed in 1982, 1986, and 1996. Flash even made it on the big screen in forty serials between 1936 and 1940. The comic is more famously known for the 1980 box-office flop that featured a soundtrack by Queen, but over the years it has been become a cult classic.

Flash Gordon returned to television on Sci-Fi (now known as SyFy) for the 2007-2008 live-action series. It was released on DVD in Canada in 2009, but it was unavailable in the United States until Mill Creek Entertainment released it on DVD on Tuesday, which I received a free copy in exchange for my honest review.

The series followed Flash Gordon's quest to find his lost scientist father, who had disappeared when Flash was only a thirteen-year-old. His father's former assistant Dr. Hans Zarkov informs him that his father didn't disappear. His father had found a rift between space and traveled to another world called Mongo. Along with his ex-girlfriend reporter Dale Arden, Flash travels to Mongo, a world ruled by the dictator Ming, who controls Mongo's only water supply. Flash and Dale soon befriend Baylin, who helps them try to stop Ming.

The episodes on the DVD set are:

Pilot Part One
Pilot Part Two

Life Source
Til Death
Conspiracy Theory
Random Access

Secrets And Lies
The Sorrow
Stand And Deliver
Thicker Than Water

EBB And Flow
A Cold Day in Hell
Revolution Part One
Revolution Part Two

I recall catching a few brief moments of Flash Gordon when it originally aired, but it didn't catch my interest as I kept comparing it to the cheesy 1980's film. I thought I would give the series another try by watching the entire 22 episodes on DVD. I have to say that it takes several episodes for the series to become actually watchable. The first half spends way too much on Earth, unlike the second half that shows more of Mongo. The cast has a lot of chemistry, but the dialogue can be a little juvenile at times. My favorite character is the warrior Baylin (played by the beautiful Karen Cliche). After watching the complete series, I actually liked the series as a whole, especially for the "Source Water" storyline in the latter episodes. The series got better with each episode, but sadly it ended in a cliffhanger. There are no extras on this release, but each episode comes in crystal clear, which surprised me considering there are only four discs. Overall, I think Flash Gordon is an underrated science fiction adventure and I do hope it finds a new audience on DVD.

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