an athlete, his ex-girlfriend and a scientist battle dimension-hopping aliens
Type of Pilot: Sci-Fi
Similar Shows: Sliders & Stargate SG-1 spring to mind because they each feature heroes travelled through a 'portal' of some kind to reach other planets/dimensions. Apart from that, I'm stumpted. It's got ordinary humans using ray-guns and such to battle aliens, and I can't think of any other shows built around that premise.
The Inner Light: Aliens Attack Bowlers! (No, seriously, that's what happens.)
Strengths: Great cast. The women are all exceptionally beautiful and they all fancy Flash, so it's got that juvenile James Bond wish-fulfulment-appeal thing going on. Gina Holden, in particular, is great as Dale Arden. This Dale is clever, funny and exciting, as well as beautiful. She defeats a big alien in physical combat, puts the clues together that lead them to Dr. Zarkov, manages to escape from Ming's guards with no help from anybody, and deduces that the rescued slave-girl isn't quite what she appears to be. Karen Cliche has a small part towards the end of the pilot as Ming's bounty hunter and she just about steals the show from Holden, as she prowls around, scowling and looking very very fed up with the peole she has to deal with with. She also looks very hot when she is doing this. Anna Van Hooft is another dab hand at stealing the show from Holden as Ming's daughter, Aura. She gets more scenes, I think, than anyone else in the pilot is a lot fun to watch. Her sparing with Holden (and later Cliche) is great fun. Although Aura is pretending to be a slave-girl for part of the pilot she can't hide her true personality (basically, she's a bit of a bitch). Finally, you've got Eric Johnston who's pretty good at playing Flash Gordon. Likable, heroic, all you could want from an action lead. He has surprisingly little chemistry with Gina Holden and the scenes that are supposed to be full of romantic tension fall flat. But, apart from that one gripe, he carries the mantle of Flash Gordon very well indeed.
Weaknesses: The character of Ming is unrecognisable from earlier versions of Flash Gordon. He seems tamer somehow, very bland and not really much of a threat. I'm not sure if this is down to the casting or what, but it does make for a very uninteresting bad-guy. He's very easy to escape from, and he seems to have no great master plan. He sends one alien to a bowling alley, but we don't see what happens there (we hear later that someone was killed, but we never see it, strangely) and, he seems very keen to get his hands on something called the Imex. But, not in a dastardly world-conquering kind of way, more in a mildly-annoying kind of way. You feel that Flash could simply say "Oh, shut up about the Imex" and it could all be over.
Impressive Characters: Ming's daughter is the most interesting character in the piece, mainly because her allegiances are all over the place. Likewise, Ming's bounty hunter, Baylin, is also fascinating because it's hard to know what's really going on in her head. I suspect she'll be changing sides and working with Flash before too long. Which is great. Karen Cliche is a veteran of shows like Young Blades, Mutant X, Vampire High, Adventure Inc., The Business and I'm always happy to have an excuse to watch her in something.
Impressive Actors: Gina Holden, Anna Van Hooft, Karen Cliche and Eric Johnston.
Less-Than-Impressive Characters: Ming.
Less-Than-Impressive Actors: John Ralston's not really at fault, here. I think he's been mis-cast as Ming. Or something. But whatever it is, he certainly doesn't pack any punch as a baddie. Even his henchman, played by Jonathan Walker, fails to terrify. Also, both of them are very easy to escape from. But, that's the writing, not the acting.
Continuity: Probably minimal. A series of self-contained adventures, probably, building toward some sort of end-of-arc type of thing. which is a pity. You'd think, after the critical smash that is Battlestar Galactica, that Sci-Fi would want to go that route again. Not so. This is bog-standard Grade B stuff. If it had been filmed in 1986 it wouldn't be drastically different.
Rewatchability: Not a lot. It's okay, certainly, but doesn't possess the cleverness and touches that would make you want to re-watch it. It's fun, yes, but there is nothing of great substance here. There's only a couple of half-hearted jokes, and they fail to raise a smile. The special effects are bland
Other Info: Airs Fridays at 9.
Three Things I Really Like About This Pilot:
Anna Van Hooft
Three Things I Really Don't Like About This Pilot:
The lack of romantic tension between Eric Johnston and Gina Holden.
No more Gina Holden on Blood Ties (which is a much better show).
I had no high hopes for this, and - while it certainly falls short of the excellence of Battlestar Galactica - it turns out to be very watchable in it's own right. The writers haven't set the bar too high, but it's miles ahead of the dreary Painkiller Jane and the cast do wonders with what they are given. It may be a bit juvenile to like it because the women are beautiful, but it goes a bit deeper than that. Dale is a compent action-hero in her own right, Ming's daughter is highly duplicitous and Baylin, the bounty hunter, seems like she's more than just there to follow orders. That fact that they are all hot isn't the only reason to watch this. But, yes, they are all hot.