Flash Gordon (1954 TV series)

1954 TV series

Flash Gordon is a science fiction television series. It aired from October 15, 1954 to July 15, 1955. It is based on the characters in the Flash Gordon comic strip created by Alex Raymond. The series set is set in 3203. Flash (Steve Holland), Dale Arden (Irene Champlin) and Dr. Zarkov (Joseph Nash) are agents of the Galactic Bureau of Investigation. They travel the galaxy in their ship the Sky Flash to battle cosmic villains under the order of Commander Paul Richards (Henry Beckman).

Flash Gordon
Title card from episode "Akim the Terrible"
StarringSteve Holland
Irene Champlin
Joseph Nash
Country of originUnited States
West Germany
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes39
Running time0:25
Original release
NetworkDuMont Television Network
ReleaseOctober 15, 1954 –
July 15, 1955

The series was filmed in West Berlin[1] and Marseille[2] as a West German, French and American co-production by Intercontinental Television Films and Telediffusion.[3] The series aired in syndication throughout most of the U.S. It aired on the east coast on the DuMont Television Network.[4]

The series was popular with American audiences. Critical response was positive. Modern critics brush the series off. Some critics respond positively to the series's presentation of Cold War and capitalist themes.

Production change

Universal Studios had held the production rights to Flash Gordon but allowed them to lapse. Former Universal executives Edward Gruskin and Matty Fox struck a deal with Flash Gordon owners King Features Syndicate to produce the first 26 episodes of the series.[5] The series was produced by Gruskin and Wenzel Lüdecke.[6] Writers for Flash Gordon included Gruskin, Bruce Geller and Earl Markham. Episodes were directed by Wallace Worsley, Jr. and Gunther von Fritsch.[6]

Production began in May 1953, with an empty beer hall in Spandau as the main shooting location.[2] Only the lead actors and director Worsley spoke English. Worsley said:

"No matter what galaxy we explored, everyone spoke with a German accent. The use of German actors who could not speak English required us to use a lot of close-ups. I would stand behind the camera, correctly positioned for the actor's look, and read his or her line; the actor would then repeat the line, mimicking my pronunciation and emphasis."[7]

The series was budgeted at USD$15,000 per episode[5] on a three-day-per-episode shooting schedule. Worsley withdrew from the project after completing the first 26 episodes. Production was moved to Marseille under the direction of Gunther von Fritsch for the 13 final episodes.[2]

Episodes change

Number Title U.S. air date[8]
[note 1]
1 Flash Gordon and the Planet of Death October 1, 1954 Flash, Dale and Zarkov travel to the planet Tarset to investigate an ancient curse. They must overcome a traitorous scientist and thwart an invasion from the evil planet Ebon.
2 Escape Into Time October 8, 1954 Flash and Zarkov must rescue Dale from a mad criminal who seeks to kidnap her with his time machine.[9]
3 The Electro Man October 15, 1954 Flash and company square off against the Electro Man, a mysterious deity who reigns over a planet where all life is made of metal.[10]
4 The Vengeance of Rabeed October 22, 1954 The mad Rabeed returns after 100 years in exile with plans to destroy the galaxy. It is up to Flash, Dale and Zarkov to stop his evil scheme.[11]
5 Akim the Terrible November 5, 1954 The evil King Akim rules Charon, where the only law is lawlessness. After Akim brainwashes Flash's best friend into attempting to assassinate Flash, Flash and Dale travel to Charon to thwart Akim's nefarious schemes.
6 The Claim Jumpers November 12, 1954 An old prospector who hits his claim and his daughter are threatened by claim jumpers and it is up to Flash and friends to protect them.[12]
7 The Dancing Death November 19, 1954 The GBI team is help captive in a vibrational device that leads people to commit suicide.[13]
8 The Breath of Death November 26, 1954 Flash's greatest enemy escapes from prison and seizes control of the Sky Flash.[14]
9 The Great Secret December 3, 1954 Zarkov's experiments to return life to dead worlds are endangered.[15]
10 Return of the Androids December 10, 1954 Flash, Dale and Zarkov battle against an invading army of ancient androids.[16]
11 The Frightened King December 17, 1954 Flash and his GBI colleagues protect the king of the planet Xerxes, who is being plagued by terrible phantoms.[17]
12 The Deadly Deception December 24, 1954 A robot loaded with atomic bombs is launched into space. Flash must retrieve it before it's too late.[18]
13 Duel Against Darkness December 31, 1954 A planet whose culture resembles the Middle Ages is ruled by a despotic magician. Can Flash, Dale and Zarkov end his evil reign?[19]
14 The Sound Gun January 14, 1955 The Sky Flash falls under attack by a powerful sonic weapon.[20]
15 The Weapon that Walked January 31, 1955 The GBI crew faces a woman who can turn humans to stone with a single look.[21]
16 Mission to Masca February 4, 1955 Flash and company travel to Masca, a silent planet.[22]
17 The Lure of Light February 11, 1955 Prudentia, evil queen of the planet Diana, kidnaps Dale Arden to force her to reveal the secret of faster-than-light travel. Flash and Zarkov must use that secret themselves to travel back in time to save Dale's life.
18 The Rains of Death February 18, 1955 The galaxy is threatened by torrential rains and flooding. Zarkov suspects the rains are a plot and the crew sets out to foil it.[23]
19 Flash Gordon and the Race against Time February 25, 1955 Half of the planets are lined up to strip the GBI of its authority and distribute its secrets amongst them. Earth casts the deciding vote in favor of keeping the GBI in control and selects Commander Richards to deliver the vote to the Galaxy Council on Mars. Krybian, the evil representative of Pluto, conspires with a master criminal to prevent Richards from voting, thus ensuring that GBI will lose its power. Flash foils the conspiracy and delivers Richards on time.
20 The Witch of Neptune March 4, 1955 Part 1 of 3. Zydereen, the "Witch of Neptune," plots to take over the planet.[24] To that end she brainwashes Zarkov and Commander Richards to destroy the planet's atmospheric converters.
21 The Brain Machine March 11, 1955 Part 2 of 3. Flash and Dale race to Saturn to clear the names of the captive Zarkov and Commander Richards, accused of sabotaging Neptune's atmospheric converters. They battle the evil Zydereen, "Witch of Neptune," who brainwashed the captives and has stolen their knowledge of galactic defense.
22 Struggle to the End March 18, 1955 Part 3 of 3. Using her stolen knowledge, Zydereen, Witch of Neptune, builds a solar ray and threatens to destroy all life if she is not declared Queen of the Galaxy. Flash and Dale race to Neptune to thwart her evil plot.
23 The Water World Menace March 25, 1955 Underwater creatures wish to live out of the water, so they plot to steal a device to allow them to live on land.[25]
24 Saboteurs from Space April 1, 1955 As the Sky Flash is pulled off-course to an uncharted planet, every machine on Earth is seized by a mysterious "mechanical paralysis." Flash, Dale and Zarkov must stop Ziering, ruler of Planet X, before he can kidnap the 100 leading scientists from Earth in his bid to take over the galaxy.
25 The Forbidden Experiment April 8, 1955 From the near-lifeless planetoid Theta N-1, Dr. Fabian Prendis puts out a desperate call to Dr. Zarkov, at the command of his mysterious master. Upon arrival, Zarkov is taken captive and learns that Prendis is dead. His captor is a "lion-man" who demands that Zarkov continue Prendis' "transmutation" experiment to make him fully human in appearance. Flash and Dale discover where Zarkov has gone and race to his rescue.
26 Heat Wave April 15, 1955 Increases in the Earth's temperature are traced to the planet Caloria. Flash and his crew must thwart the invasion.[26]
27 The Hunger Invasion April 22, 1955 Flash, Dale and Zarkov must stave off a galactic invasion by a plague of devouring insects.[27]
28 Encounter with Evil April 29, 1955 A man called Evil confronts Flash, turning all of Flash's friends against him.[28]
29 The Matter Duplicator May 6, 1955 The GBI investigates a case of jewels mysteriously disappearing and reappearing.[29]
30 The Micro-Man Menace May 13, 1955 Flash and company work to stop a villain who is able to shrink people and entire planets.[30]
31 The Space Smugglers May 20, 1955 Flash and the GBI must stop smugglers who are transporting a drug that causes a hypnotic trance.[31]
32 The Mystery of Phoros May 27, 1955 The rulers of a disease-ridden planet prevent Flash, Dale and Zarkov from trying to stop the epidemic.[32]
33 The Shadowy Death June 3, 1955 The planet Saturn seeks to join the Galaxy Council but the son of the king acts to oppose it.[33]
34 Death in the Negative June 10, 1955 Queen Cygnil has the power to kill with a machine that turns people into photographic negatives, and it's up to Flash and friends to stop her.[34]
35 The Earth's Core June 17, 1955 A series of unexplained earthquakes prompt Flash to travel to the center of the planet to discover the cause.[35] There he, Dale and Zarkov encounter Zaldu, despotic ruler of the underground kingdom, and must halt his plans to burn his way through to the surface world to invade.[36]
36 Deadline at Noon June 24, 1955 Planets are being destroyed and Earth is next. Flash, Dale and Zarkov must time-travel to 1950s Berlin to defuse a bomb planted 1,250 years in the past.
37 The Law of Velorum July 1, 1955 Dale goes missing and a desperate Flash must find her.[37]
38 The Skyjackers July 8, 1955 Flash, Dale and Zarkov investigate the mysterious disappearances of a number of spaceships.[38]
39 The Subworld Revenge July 15, 1955 Strange tremors again threaten Earth, and Zarkov discovers that the evil Zaldu has survived his previous encounter with Flash and company and rebuilt his kingdom. The GBI team must once more journey deep underground in the Earth-borer Earthworm to thwart Zaldu once and for all.

Notes change

  1. There are sources that incorrectly indicate that the series was broadcast as early as January 1954, c.f. Vernon, Terry (1954-01-11). Tele-Vues. Long Beach (California) Independent, p. 16. "'FLASH GORDON', based on the famous comic strip, comes to TV as a film series on KTLA (5) Jan. 24. STEVE HOLLAND portrays "Flash."; Albuquerque Journal advertisement, p. 24 (1954-03-01). "FOLLOW FLASH GORDON as he rockets to adventure in the first exciting episode of SPACE SOLDIERS". However, the original Universal Studios Flash Gordon serials were re-titled Space Soldiers for television syndication, c.f. Shales, Tom (2007-08-10). p. C01. "'Flash Gordon' Is More Comic Than Cosmic on Sci Fi." Washington Post.

References change

  1. Wertz, Diane (2007-08-09). "'Flash Gordon' not out of this world". Newsday. Archived from the original on November 14, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-03.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Dixon, p. 98
  3. "Flash Gordon and the Planet of Death". Flash Gordon. Season 1. Episode 1. 1954-10-01.
  4. Cook, et al. p. 46
  5. 5.0 5.1 Dixon, p. 97
  6. 6.0 6.1 Dixon, p. 324
  7. Worsley, p. 69; quoted in Dixon, p. 98
  8. Fergus, George. "Flash Gordon (1954)". epguides.com and tv.com. Retrieved 2007-12-03.
  9. "Episode Detail: Escape Into Time - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  10. "Episode Detail: The Electro Man - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  11. "Episode Detail: The Vengeance of Rabeed - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  12. "Episode Detail: The Claim Jumpers - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  13. "Episode Detail: The Dancing Death - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  14. "Episode Detail: The Breath of Death - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  15. "Episode Detail: The Great Secret - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  16. "Episode Detail: Return of the Androids - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  17. "Episode Detail: The Frightened King - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  18. "Episode Detail: The Deadly Deception - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  19. "Episode Detail: Duel Against Darkness - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  20. "Episode Detail: The Sound Gun - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  21. "Episode Detail: The Weapon That Walked - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  22. "Episode Detail: Mission to Masca - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  23. "Episode Detail: The Rains of Death - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  24. "Episode Detail: The Witch of Neptune - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  25. "Episode Detail: The Water World Menace - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  26. "Episode Detail: Heat Wave - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  27. "Episode Detail: The Hunger Invasion - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  28. "Episode Detail: Encounter With Evil - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  29. "Episode Detail: The Matter Duplicator - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  30. "Episode Detail: The Micro-Man Menace - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  31. "Episode Detail: The Space Smugglers - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  32. "Episode Detail: The Mystery of Phoros - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  33. "Episode Detail: The Shadowy Death - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  34. "Episode Detail: Death in the Negative - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  35. "Episode Detail: Flash Gordon - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  36. "The Subworld Revenge". Flash Gordon. Season 1. Episode 39. 1955-07-15.
  37. "Episode Detail: The Law of Velorum - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  38. "Episode Detail: The Skyjackers - Flash Gordon". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-11.

Bibliography change

  • Bassoir, Jean-Noel (2004). Space Patrol: Missions of Daring in the Name of Early Television. McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-1911-3.
  • Cook, John R. and Peter Wright (2006). British Science Fiction Television: A Hitchhiker's Guide. I. B. Taurus. ISBN 1-84511-047-1.
  • Harmon, Jim and Donald Frank Glut (1973). The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. Routledge. ISBN 0-7130-0097-X.
  • Dixon, Wheeler Winston. "Tomorrowland TV: The Space Opera and Early Science Fiction Television". collected in Telotte, J.P. (ed.) (2008). The Essential Science Fiction Television Reader, pp. 96–110. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-2492-1, ISBN 978-0-8131-2492-6.
  • Terrace, Vincent (2002). Crime Fighting Heroes of Television: Over 10,000 Facts from 151 Shows, 1949-2001. McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-1395-6.
  • Worsley, Jr., Wallace and Sue Dwiggens Worsley (1997). From Oz to E.T.: Wally Worsley's Half Century in Hollywood. Lanham, MD, Scarecrow.

Other websites change