Thursday, June 21, 2007

Nazis. I hate these guys...

Just in case you haven’t heard, the SciFi channel’s next big project, now that they’re winding down Battlestar Galactica, is Flash Gordon. Of course, they feel a strong need to reinvent it, reinterpret it for modern audiences. They certainly seem to have struck gold with that technique on Galactica.

I’m thinking this is one of those lightning-doesn’t-strike-twice things. Seriously, what do you think of when you imagine Flash Gordon? This is planetary romance, descended from the Barsoom novels of E.R. Burroughs. It’s two-fisted action, with a ray gun in one hand and a sword in the other. It’s exotic locals, wild costumes, beautiful women, aliens based on animal motifs, and the struggle of larger-than-life heroes against fiendish tyranny. For a hint of what I’m talking about, look here.

The folks over at SciFi have released some still photos from their shoots of the new Flash Gordon series. So far, I’m less than thrilled with what I’m seeing. Most of the sets appear claustrophobic, or dark with a few props under spotlights. Black leather abounds. Everyone appears to be human (though additional effects both in scenery and costuming may be planned for digital insertion). Many of the costumes look more mundane and commonplace than what we saw on Babylon 5. And I don’t see a single sword anywhere.

Clearly, the SciFi folks are shooting from the three-point zone, but I’m thinking their footwork is all wrong. They want to make Flash more edgy, and more relevant. Edgy might work, but what Flash is about is wild, escapist adventure. Relevance, while not antithetical to Flash, is something you have to be subtle about. When Ming’s goons bear a disturbing resemblance to the police who yanked Elian Gonzalez out of his relative’s home in Miami, something is out of kilter. Planetary romance this is not.

Now, I haven’t seen an episode yet, and it’s possible this thing will be really good, or wildly popular with folks who are dealing with Galactica withdrawal. But right now, I’m not seeing anything I might want to schedule my evenings around.

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