Flash finds himself in the negative side of the universe, where he confronts an evil version of himself. Later, Flash, Dale, Gremlin and Ming are brought to The Unexplored Continent to play a deadly ...
Marshal Bravestarr and a female judge are sent to New Texas, a frontier planet under attack by the evil cattle spirit Stampede, who, with his ruthless sidekick Tex Hex, are vying for control of the universe, one planet at a time.
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Young Cimmerian barbarian Conan and his allies must stop snake-man wizard Wrath-Amon and his snake-men army from resurrecting evil serpent god Set. Conan must also destroy the evil wizard's ring that turned his family into stone.
Flash Gordon blasts off to the planet Mongo with girlfriend Dale Arden and scientist Hans Zarkov to prevent evil dictator Ming the Merciless from dominating the universe. In attempting to put an end to Ming's villainy, Flash receives the aid (and often the hindrance) of Prince Barin of Arboria, the Hawk Men led by King Vultan, Queen Fria of the ice-covered land of Frigia, Thun the Lion Man and Ming's sexy, scantily-clad daughter Aura, who has a powerful attraction for Flash. Written by
Marty McKee <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Blasting off on a desperate mission to save Earth from the evil plottings of the tyrannical space lord Ming the Merciless, Dr. Hans Zarkov and Dale Arden have joined me, Flash Gordon, on a fantastic journey into worlds where peril and adventure await us.
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This was the best adaptation of the classic comic strip by Alex Raymond. The series captured both the look of the strip and faithfully adapted the adventures. The 16-part serial format of the first season created added excitement. You had to tune in the next week to find out what would happen. This was almost unheard of for Saturday morning fare. Each episode built on the previous one, with each adventure covering two episodes. The series reached its finale with the final part. A second season followed, but with twelve minute episodes, and featuring a comic relief dragon called Gremlin. Needless to say, it didn't survive.
Filmation was one of the cheaper animation houses. They produced such cartoons as The Archies, The Groovie Goolies, and Fat Albert in the 70's; and He-Man and She-Ra in the 80's. They were known for their use of stock footage and cheaper voice artists. Their previous pinnacle had been the Star Trek cartoon, featuring the voices of the original cast. Flash gave them a new milestone. Filmation used rotoscoping, a technique where live actors are filmed, and animation is traced over their movements. This gave the characters more fluid movements in many of the action scenes. The design work for the series was a nice blend of Raymond with some Star Wars updating; ironic, since it was Flash Gordon that inspired Lucas to create a sci-fi movie.
The voice work was quite good, at least the equal to the original movie serials and better than most of the performances in the Sam Jones film. Robert Ridgely gave Flash the right All-American voice, with Allan Oppenheimer (voice of Skeletor in He-Man) as Ming and Zarkov. Diane Pershing gave a light touch to Dale, although she was still mostly just there to be rescued. Melendy Britt gave a very sultry voice to the vixen Aura.
The series main fault was the overuse of stock footage, which could get annoying. The same Hawkmen were disintegrated, the same ship gets hit in the tail section, the robot soldiers always line up the same way, etc. Still, the stories were good enough to keep you from dwelling on this. Also, the broadcast standards and practices kept the series from having the characters in too much jeopardy. Ming's soldiers were robots and his ships were remotely piloted. However, Hawkmen did disappear, or disintegrate and Barin's ships would as well. Since it was shown that those ships were piloted by humans, it could be assumed that they were killed. They did allow monsters to attack, but they always seemed to be buried under rubble, and never killed. The only other major fault is that the series begins with the Earth trio already orbiting Mongo, with no explanation as to why. This would be cleared up later.
After the series had been broadcast, a feature version was shown in primetime, on NBC. It included a new opening, establishing how everyone got to Mongo, and included new scenes and voice work. The time period was set at 1939, during the Nazi invasion of Poland. Mongo was given a connection to Hitler. Actually, the feature had been commissioned first; thus, the more detailed backgrounds and fuller animation. The series was commissioned after screening footage from the feature. The feature was used to provide the stock footage for the episodes and wasn't fully broadcast until later.
This was one of the best Saturday morning cartoons of its era, but, its ratings were never that good. It was retooled for its second season and then quietly disappeared. It later turned up in limited video release and on the Sci-Fi channel. It's worth viewing if you can find the episodes or feature from tape traders. The commercial videos only covered a few episodes.
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