The winner of last week’s trivia challenge was my good friend Jennifer. The show I was thinking of that features Flash Gordon teaming up with other comic strip heroes was Defenders of the Earth. Unfortunately, where Flash Gordon was better than i expected it to be, Defenders of the Earth is pretty disappointing. It takes what should be a fun hero team-up premise and crams it full of 80s cartoon cliches like teen sidekicks and a cute, friendly little gremlin that serves as the team’s pet.
I don’t think it’s even worth going into why the show is bad at length, so I’ll just give you one example. At the beginning of the show, Flash Gordon has a wife and a teenaged son who have been captured by Ming. His wife doesn’t look like Dale Arden as she appeared in the comic strip or the Filmation TV series. But since her name is never mentioned and she is voiced by the same actress who played Dale on the Filmation show, let’s just call her “Dale” for the sake of argument. Anyways, Ming uses his memory draining whatsit to try to extract Flash’s current location from Dale’s mind and kills her in the process. Fortunately, her “essence” – all of her memories and personality – ends up stored in a crystal which the Defenders’ pet fuzzball retrieves. Flash’s tech savvy son Rick Gordon then uses this crystal to power the Defenders’ new computer, Dynak X. Once this crystal containing all of Dale’s personality and memories in installed, the computer begins…warning the Defenders about an incoming threat in a monotone computer voice. It’s not that I expect a not very deep cartoon for kids to fully explore the potential tragedy of Dale’s situation. It’s that the show goes through the trouble of actually killing her off, makes a big deal of how this crystal contains everything that Dale was, and then just seems to wander off and lose interest, opting for a generic talking computer instead of a computer with Dale’s personality, or any personality.
I only watched a few episodes of the show before deciding that it wasn’t worth my time, but what I’ve read is that Flash only pays occasional lip service to the idea of restoring Dale to a real human body. In the meantime, he spends his days getting flirty with other women. How is this supposed to be the same guy who consistently chose Dale over scores of hot alien women who were throwing themselves at him on a regular basis?