Saturday, July 02, 2016

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Flash Gordon: "Survival Game" / "Gremlin's Finest Hour" (November 6, 1982)

In “Survival Game,” Arkon Bay, a bounty hunter (and reptile man), is hired by Ming to retrieve Flash Gordon, dead or alive. 

When Flash and Arkon crash land on a small island following a pursuit, they must work together to survive.

In “Gremlin’s Finest Hour,” Dr. Zarkov detects some unusual happenings in Mongo’s polar region.  

There, at the site of an ancient civilization, he is detecting unusual power readings.  Flash, Thun, Dale and Gremlin travel to investigate, taking along a “retro-scope” which permits them to see back in time thousands of years.

Once in the polar region, they encounter Ancients who mistake Gremlin for their lizard God.

Well, Filmation's Flash Gordon ends not with a bang, but with a whimper, with two underwhelming stories.  

“Survival Game is basically yet another “My Enemy, My Ally” story in which Flash and an opponent, here a bounty hunter, learn to respect and help each other so they can survive a crisis.  And yes, Flash Gordon just recently did a similar story in the second season: "The Warrior."

Meanwhile, “Gremlin’s Finest Hour” hauls out the old trope involving a tribe of ignorant natives mistaking somebody mortal for a God (see: Return of the Jedi [1983]).  Here, that individual is Gremlin, who sits on a dragon throne and eats berries with satisfaction while demanding that Thun fan him.

Both stories exemplify the problems Flash Gordon had after Season One. Basically, for all intents and purposes, Flash’s most interesting narrative ended with the fall of Ming. Season Two feels like an after-thought, a catalog of inconsequential adventures following the main event.  

A better approach, I submit, would have been to come up with a new arc for Season Two that would have kept all the characters occupied and in real danger.  

Personally, I think the “Gor-don” character, the once-ruler of Mongo (and Flash’s double) who was prophesied to return to Mongo one day, should have become the main villain as he returned to Mongo and invaded it. 

Ming could have still played a part, but our heroes would have been fully engaged and fighting for their lives (and freedom) as this new enemy arrived to take advantage of the power vacuum created by Ming’s fall.

I still love Filmation's Flash Gordon, at least it's first season.  But the second season was a grave disappointment.

1 comment:

  1. Even with the weak second season, John thanks for reviewing Filmation's Flash Gordon. Like you, I watched this series first-run as a boy beginning in 1979. For myself, I immediately loved the production designs of the spaceships, Mongo locations and characters much more than the 1980 movie live-action production designs.