The New Adventures of Flash Gordon - The Complete Series
DVD | Box Set
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Though it only aired for one season the 1979 cartoon series THE NEW ADVENTURES OF FLASH GORDON is fondly remembered for its innovative use of rotoscoping (a form of animation that involves tracing over live-action footage for a remarkably kinetic effect). Closely adhering to the style and storyline of Alex Raymond's classic 1930s comic strip the series followed the intergalactic adventures of Flash Gordon as he his girlfriend Dale Arden and their scientific companion Dr. Han Zarkov fought to save the universe from the evil plotting of tyrannical space lord Ming the Merciless. This collection presents the beloved series in its entirety for a total of 24 episodes.Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: CHILDREN/FAMILY UPC: 787364700790
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Top customer reviews
In retrospect, it all makes sense; the show had originally been made for prime time, but got relegated to the kiddie slot. The show was a pioneer of techniques never seen in American animation before. The serialized format was novel for US TV and would become par for the course 25 years later.
The first season is the best; it's all one long story, with Flash battling Ming and rallying the peoples of Mongo to unite against the common foe. The show underwent a disastrous revamp with the second season; under network pressure, it was made more kid-friendly and a cute dragon was included. Instead of a serialized story arc, we had two short individual segments. As a kid, I remember abandoning the show in disgust at that point, and I'm told that the change was a ratings disaster that doomed the show. It's too bad; the first season was a great show for older kids and adults who enjoyed a fun series.
Bear in mind that this show is not strictly kiddie litter; it was pretty violent for Saturday mornings. I remember being initially surprised at the aerial battle scenes, which routinely showed Hawkmen being disintegrated.
And a drawback shows up if you sit down and watch the whole first season in a marathon session (as I did); there's a lot of footage repeated and reused, to the point of becoming tedious. I can't speak for the second season as I find the kiddie-oriented redo difficult to watch. I'll have to give it a try and simply fast-forward past the cloying antics of the cute pink dragon.
This is worth looking for and watching. It's probably the most faithful modern version of the Alex Raymond strip, and is great viewing for those who enjoy old movie serials and pulp sci-fi. Space the episodes out over time (I'm alternating it with episodes of the original "Jonny Quest" and chapters of old movie serials), and have fun.
EDIT: I finally made it through the second season. Crikey, it's bad, and one gets a sense that the makers' hearts were no longer in it. The changes forced on the show by the network took away much of what made the first season so different and exciting, and instead it became a run-of-the-mill action/comedy for kids. One big thing was a change in the characters' attitudes. In the first season, it was all about defeating Ming. Now, Ming is still alive, and they know where he is, but instead of actually doing something about it, they just clown around in Arboria until either Ming or the Witch-Queen Azura makes some half-hearted attempt to cause problems. The dialogue became more dumbed-down and kiddie-oriented. Zarkov disappears as a character and is only mentioned a few times. On its own, I guess it wouldn't be half bad as an action show in the He-Man vein, but the big shift in style, tone, and target audience ultimately doomed it. They should have stuck to the original formula.
He was Flash Gordon; and viewers were invited to join he and his team on a "fantastic journey; into worlds where peril and adventure awaited." This had everything that a vintage cartoon needed and many things that cartoons today could only dream of having. The theme music was catchy. The plots for Season 1's 16-part-serial (divided into "chapters" on the disc sets) were well thought out and flowed beautifully together. The animation was well ahead of its time, and, of course, the characters were well thought out. Perhaps the best part: the main good guys were "good" and the main baddies were "bad;" there was no quesiton about it. Flash was the natural-born leader, a debonair space hero that most women he encountered wanted (not the least of which being Ming's gorgeous daughter, Aura) and most men he encountered probably secretly wanted to be. Dale Arden was Flash's main love interest and his go-to ally (as stated: "I'm no wilting violet; I share the risks with you.")Ming, the merciless, was a tyrant who was...well...merciless; and he well lived up to his title! As of Episode 2, he had captured Dr. Hans Zarkov and only kept him alive to work for him, attempted to force Dale Arden into servitude as one of his women in waiting, and sent Flash and Thun, the lion man, into slave-labor in his mines.
Sure, there was little question which characters were on the side of justice and which characters stood in their way. Still, as stated, the plot lines and animation were decades ahead of their time as well and only added to what was so impressive about this series. The episodes flowed and gelled together beautifully in true serial style, only to capsize with the overthrow of Ming as despotic ruler over Mongo.
So with Ming dethroned, that brings us to Flash's second season and his new role as(drumroll please)...
To recap, Ming is now overthrown as the despotic ruler and is cast into his role of revenge-seeking villain. Along with that comes such a drastic shift in the story-line that causes many fans to wonder if they should have rooted for Ming to at least keep the plot line untouched. The serial style of the series leaves us (as noted by the fact that the DVD gives up on referring to them as "Chapters 1-16" and we see "EPISODES 17-24). Don't be fooled: the second season has as many INDIVIDUAL stories as the first; but each episode from Season 2 consisted of two abbreviated stories and introduced a rather small, PINK Godzooky-clone answering to the name of Gremlin as Flash's token "cute" sidekick and the series' unofficial new "mascot" character. Of course, it wasn't the first time that the legendary Lou Scheimer and the boys' at Filmation did something like this; and it certainly wasn't the last. Think of Batman's Batmite as this little guy's predecessor and He-Man's Orko as his descendent and so on down the line throughout the 80s. Anyway, this little guy made the show great for the kids but ruined it for many fans (as stated by countless previous reviews). Honestly, I really wanted to have something nice to say about the poor little guy having read previous reviews. Still, this "new" Flash Gordon says it best in one of his tragic one-liners: "I AM trying to get rid of him! He's just so...cute." The sentiments of many original fans exactly. Alas, the nicest thing that I can come up with is the fact that I am more annoyed with what was done to Flash's scripts than I am annoyed by Gremlin.
Previously, Flash was a daring hero and you could tell because THAT WAS HOW HE TALKED! It was reflected in his dialogue as well as Ming's cruelty was reflected in his own scripts throughout the first season. Then however, Ming was overthrown, Dr. Zarkov was replaced by Gremlin, and Flash's lines started being written by a comedian whose sole purpose in life was to spout one-liners about 90% of the time he opened his mouth.
The original season is good for five stars and well worth the price of admission. The second season is good for four stars if you can overlook Gremlin and Flash's dialogue or at the very least be generous enough to realize that they have their audience in the little ones. The packaging, however, has earned its THREE stars for the fact that first the discs are "stackers" (already almost impossible to remove without scratching) and then are difficult enough to remove at all. Use great caution in removing, then find a CD "wallet" (CD carrier) to put the discs safely away while keeping the box for the cover art and to possibly sell the discs later.
Overall: Four Stars; and great for any established fans of Flash Gordon or Filmation cartoons (the latter including myself).
The episodes have that old serial feel to them for the first season. The second season plays out more like a typical cartoon show with the villian being Ming who isnow functioning like a Mad Scientist that has to have his plans overthrown by the hero and heroine and a dragon named Gremlin.
There are a number of special features that make this release alot of fun. These include commentaries on three key episodes, a 20 minute documentary, three lobby style art cards featuring art from the show, and interactive storyboards just to name a few.
This release is now out of print but here is a hint. Super-Target has it for $5.00 in their cheap DVD section if you can get lucky enough to find it. Other than that I must wish you good hunting if you are still looking for it.