Friday, November 02, 2007

SciFi Suckfest

Forgive me while I wax all geeky...

So I've been unusually annoyed with the SciFi Channel.

The SciFi Channel, and more specifically, their new series - Flash Gordon.

I'd been psyched about Flash Gordon ever since they'd started promoting it earlier in the year. They'd even managed to score the original Queen song for the promo's. And then I looked upon it and, lo, did it suck...

And I've seen it every week.

"Why have you watched it every week if its so damned crap-tastic?!?" you may be asking.

Well, there's various reasons , and the fact that I've been too lazy to delete it off of my DVR may be the most compelling. But there are other reasons for my pigheaded refusal to stop watching this insipid, vapid excuse for science fiction. Mainly - I keep hoping it will get better. And, like my sex life before I managed to meet a woman who wasn't repulsed by the sight of me naked, I continue to be disappointed.

And much of it can be placed squarely at the doorstep of the SciFi Channel. I have a love/hate relationship with the SciFi Channel. While they sometimes have some great shows, they also happen to have some of the worst fucking movies imaginable. If any movie is touted as a SciFi Channel original movie, run. Run for your very life. Run as though your very soul depended upon it.

In the last year or so, I can think of only one or two of the poorly CGI'd bags of cinematic shit they pass of as "original science fiction" that I actually enjoyed. Surprisingly, neither of these two had an overgrown, monstrous, poorly rendered snake or lizard in them. This is what SciFi Channel has been reduced to. Nameless teen actors in clunky, poorly cobbled together bad remakes of Anaconda - less the visage of a hot Jennifer Lopez in a wet t-shirt or Jon Voight with a bad Spanish accent.

And - for the record - the two films I did like were both Bruce Campbell vehicles - The Man With The Screaming Brain and Alien Apocalypse. They weren't particularly good, but they had Bruce. As Gundown, over at Zombie Squad once wrote:


Amen, brother Gundown. Amen.

So - anyway, why am I so frustrated by the SciFi channel, and Flash Gordon specifically?

Because it sucks. Duh.

Let me enumerate the suckage that it has:

- - While supposedly taking place in Maryland or Virginia - it looks like it was filmed in that old standby - Vancouver, Canada. Yeah, we get that its cheaper to film there. And I don't begrudge the producers saving some money. But for Chrissake's at least say it takes place in Seattle or some other nondescript Pacific Northwestern city. Hint: Maryland does not have Cascade or Rockies-like mountains on the horizon, dumb asses.

- - Flash is no longer a football star. Get this - - he's a marathon runner. And not even a famous one. He's the "3 time winner of the City Marathon". They actually try to use this as a pick up line in the first episode. "Hey baby, wanna make it with a tool who paid a $15 entry fee and got a free t-shirt for the local benefit run? You can help me pin on my race number (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge)."

- - Mongo just sucks. A soft filter on a camera does not an alien world make. And Ming is a smarmy guy who rules with an iron fist. Wait, oops! How silly of me, it's not an iron fist... it's by water rationing. That's right, he's an evil dictator who has a garden hose hooked up to a water purifier. Oooh! Scary! Idi Amin, Hitler, and Pol Pot got nothing on Ming the Merciless. Who needs genocide when you can give your subjugated masses cavities because they've got to drink well water instead of flouridated tap water?!? The horror!

- - The hawk men are normal, non-winged, muscular dorks with leather capes that can fly. Totally ignoring the physics and indescribably gay image of muscular men in leather capes flapping away into the night... you never actually see them fly on camera. You'd think SciFi would've sprung for a green screen and some of the same technology my local weather guy's been using for the last 40 years or so, huh? Not so, dear reader. Not so.

- - And there've been no significantly weird monsters on Mongo either. You've got some people in weird costumes (if silk on chicks, and leather on guys, and generic military uniforms and helmets on the Mongo Guard count as "weird"). And the occassional strange face painting. Even the latter Star Trek shows subscribed to the "give them some latex ridges or bumps or spots on their face to make them alien" philosophy. Flash Gordon's not even going that far.

- - What worked so well with the original Flash Gordon (and I'm counting the 1923's serials, the 1940's and 50's radio shows, the 1950's TV series, and even the Queen scored bag of win that was the 1980 movie) was that Flash, Dale and Hans Zarkoff were trapped on Mongo. Lost and adrift in a culture of wierd aliens and cutthroat palace intrigue, they fought with stereotypically plucky human resolve. Now we have "rift technology" where a wormhole opens up between Earth and Mongo and they have to make little day trips to save the universe. Again I blame the cheapness of the production, because it's obviously cheaper to keep the characters in faux-Maryland than to splurge on expensive sets. Whoever's in charge of the money at SciFi needs to stop hanging onto it likes it's his own. At the least, the accountants need to get punched in their junk because 90% of the whole goddamned show takes place on Earth. Dear dark Pagan gods - save us from the bean counters. Please.

- - And don't even get me started on Rankol - one of the bad guys who is supposed to be a creepy alien. Slapping a fake metal plate to the side of his head and hiding a Segway under his robes is absoultely fucking ridiculous. That's right - a Segway. The same thing my office mail guy uses because my company's campus covers over a mile of hallways.

I guess what makes me so mad about this show is that SciFi has such a great track record with their original series. This is the same channel that brought us some of the best and most innovative sicence fiction TV in years. From The Invisible Man series, to Farscape, and the Stargates: I've become accustomed to better quality from them. And the time is ripe for introducing a new, edgy science fiction show to their Friday night lineup. I mean look how successful other reimaginings of classic SciFi have been. Battlestar Gallactica, anyone? The Bionic Women? Doctor Who?

And I think I just figured out the problem. In the last paragraph I wrote "new, edgy..." and "innovative". Flash Gordon is everything but that. It's safe and would be more at home on a network channel and not cable.

But that's the problem with the Sci-Fi channel. They've never gotten the idea that they're CABLE. They've always watered down their movies and, now, apparently, they're watering down their programming. They should take the lead from FX and push the envelope. Sadly, they won't. They refuse to stop being safe because - and I've got this on good authority - the SciFi Channel hates me. That's right. The SciFi channel hates me and small children. Seriously.

But what what else would you expect from a channel that calls itself the SciFi channel and yet DOESN'T RUN STAR TREK in any of its past incarnations. When Spike, or G4 scoops you on the Star Trek, do you really have the street cred to call yourself the "SciFi" Channel?

I'm just saying...


Randal Graves said...

Ugh. I've heard bad things about this from various people, but never specifics. This post just about clinches that I'll never watch it. At least the movie is on DVD. Glad you braved it out so others didn't have to, heh. And you're right about SciFi overall. Didn't they used to be at least halfway decent?

Of course, I remember when Headbangers Ball showed stuff besides 120 minutes of metalcore.

Dr. Zombie said...

Yeah. They used to be so much better. Even when they were doing the weekly blocks of shows all day they were good and - more importantly - real sci fi entertainment. Highlander: The Series, The Incredible Hulk, The Night Stalker (the original with Gavin McCloud!), Knight Rider, et. al..

Now it's Ghosthunters (This week we're going to another abandoned place where we can say, "Did you feel that?!?", freak each other out, and find nothing substantial on the thermal cameras.), The inferior Stargate Atlantis, and movies nobody cares about.


Every day my anger grows.