Saturday, June 25, 2016

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Flash Gordon: "Beware of Gifts" / "The Memory Bank of Ming" (October 30, 1982)

In “Beware of Gifts,” Ming claims to have had a change of heart. He wants peace, and to prove it, he gives Arboria a present: a huge statue of a warrior from Mongo.  

Flash and the others allow the statue within the city walls, and the “stone avenger” promptly comes to life and embarks on a campaign of destruction. 

Flash uses electron torpedoes to attempt to destroy the destructive statue, to no effect.  He realizes he must destroy the statue’s controls, located in Ming’s lab.  He uses Zarkov’s experimental cloaking device to get there undetected in his rocket.

In “The Memory Bank of Ming,” Arboria activates a revolutionary new computer or A.I. system, named “Arnold,” to control the operation of the city.  

Things go awry, however, when Gremlin accidentally slips Arnold a memory tape containing the personality of Ming the Merciless.

This week, “Beware of Gifts” is a straight-up re-telling of the Trojan Horse myth. 

One would think Flash might specifically bring up this historical/literary parallel (especially since he’s been spending time in a library, if we are to believe “The Freedom Balloon”). The story also evokes memories of “The Seed,” another second season story in which Ming hatches a plan to get a monster inside of Arboria to destroy it.

“The Memory Bank of Ming” finds every device in Arboria “totally out of control” when a friendly A.I. gets reprogrammed with Ming’s personality, thanks to Gremlin.  

Here, Dale distracts Arnold in the final act by playing tic-tac-toe with him. It’s a rather underwhelming story, but I like the depiction of Arnold as a hovering, friendly drone.

Next week we come to the end of our Flash Gordon season two retrospective with “Survival Game” and “Gremlin’s Finest Hour.”

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