When the series debuted on The Sci-Fi Channel, the pilot aired in a 75 minute time slot, and it ran 65 minutes without commercials. This version was issued on a DVD titled "Flash Gordon: The Premiere Episode," which was briefly available at Best Buy stores. Included on that disc were 7 minutes of deleted scenes, one of which didn't have completed special effects... but that wasn't nearly all of the footage that was removed.
'Flash'-forward to 2009, when Canada's Phase 4 Films quietly sneaked the complete series onto DVD (which I didn't discover until long after the fact). That set includes a 2-part version of the pilot which runs roughly 90 minutes. Although it drags a little in a couple spots, the 2-part version is DRASTICALLY superior to the shorter cut. Part of the problem (though there were many others) with the 65 minute cut is that the characters all come off very shallow. The reason is because virtually every moment that didn't push the plot forward was removed. From the start, this incarnation of the classic story was a character piece but, in excising the little moments that showed what made the characters tick, The Sci-Fi Channel totally ruined it.
I was disappointed with the pilot when I saw it too, but unlike most fans of the source material and earlier incarnations, I stuck with the show and watched it blossom -- and by the end, I was glad that I did. It was abundantly clear that the network didn't have much faith in the show from the low-budget it was given, but now that I've seen the better, longer cut of the pilot, I can't help but wonder if the network bigwigs deliberately tried to sabotage the show from the get-go.
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