Saturday, August 19, 2006

SATURDAY MORNING CULT TV BLOGGING: Flash Gordon: "Vultan - King of the Hawkmen"

Script editor Ted Pederson contributes his first teleplay to Filmation's Flash Gordon with this, the third "chapter" of the ongoing serial.

"Vultan - King of the Hawkmen" finds Aura, Barin, Thun and Flash captured and taken to Vultan's hovering "Sky City." Vultan - who looks and sounds suspiciously like the movie's Brian Blessed - consigns the men to the city's "atomic furnace" and decides he wants to marry the yummy and scantily-clad Aura. Meanwhile, Ming launches his space armada to rescue his daughter and warns that Vultan will soon feel "the wrath of Ming!"

Down in the atomic furnace, Flash instigates the second slave revolt in two weeks and devastates the city's power core just in time for Ming to come and reduce much of the Hawkman city to rubble with his fleet. This is where the episode really takes off as the battle rages. In the air (over the spires of Sky City...) it's laser-firing spaceship versus sleek, flying Hawkmen, and I was amazed to see a children's cartoon featuring images of Hawkmen (and their hawk steeds...) being disintegrated in mid-air by the weaponry! Damn, that's cool...

In the end, the Hawkmen flee Sky City with Ming, Barin and Thun. Vultan resolves to join them as "brothers" since they now "share the same fortune." In just three episodes, Flash has allied three Kingdoms of Mongo, and soon he will begin the rebellion against Ming in earnest...

"Where there's a will, there's a way," he tells his new friends, and again I'm reminded of Flash Gordon's origins in the 1930s...in a time of gathering global danger when tyrants were sweeping through Europe and bringing the tide of fascism with them. The only chance to resist the momentum of evil was for the countries of the world to band together against evil; and Flash Gordon is certainly a metaphor for that idea of uniting: the putting aside of racial and ethnic divides to serve the common good.

That's a valuable message, especially today, when war wages in so many places.

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