Last weekend, I wrote about the fan communities that have kept some long-standing comic strips alive, including longtime hero Flash Gordon. Thanks to some of the readers over on Warren Ellis' site, I learned that rumor had it that Flash Gordon had a movie due soon through the Sci Fi Network.
Instead, Sci Fi announced their plans at the Television Critics Association press tour today, that the network would be launching a new Flash Gordon series instead of just a one-shot film.
The series, produced by Robert Haimi Sr. and Jr., already has a commitment of 22 hour-long episodes for the first season. The series was among several announced projects for the Sci Fi Network, which also has a Darren Star series under consideration about an under-the-radar government agency that covers high-tech crimes.
This has to come as a very pleasant surprise for Flash Gordon enthusiasts. In response to Ellis' post, Chris Arrant had written in the comments section, "The belief is that Sci-Fi will greenlight a 3 to 4 episode mini-series event that will serve as a back door pilot for the potential new series. So while no show runner has been brought aboard, negotiations are currently taking place."
The announcement, then, was for more than fans were expecting.
Last week, I wrote about Flash Gordon that the character:
was the star of various comic books and comic strips, films, and television shows, even though Gordon is hardly one of the more featured cultural icons of the modern day. Nevertheless, the various incarnations of the Flash Gordon hero are kept alive by fans across the world who collect and archive the material surrounding the character. For these fans, the Flash Gordon character and universe is kept alive, even though the character is outside the public mainstream now and even though there is not new Flash Gordon material being produced. These types of behaviors instill the fans with the feeling of taking over the role of gatekeeping from the content producers, who no longer exist in this case. These fan communities keep each other up-to-date when the character is used or mentioned in some way, including the airing of or release of material related to the character and various references made to him throughout popular culture
I am happy in this case to have that statement become so immediately irrelevant, that the fan support for Flash Gordon has led to a reincarnation of his popular image in the new Sci Fi series planned.
Historical Flash Gordon sites I referenced last week, such as Tony LoBue's Flash Gordon Web Site, have not paid attention to any new projects but serve as a cornerstone for proving a continued Web interest in the various incarnations of the character. Even Al Roker displayed his lovemark for the comic strip.
According to the latest records I've seen, Flash Gordon has not been produced as a comic strip since the Sunday-only series stopped in 2003, with reprints now running in some places. However, fans of the comic strip have been tracing the trajectory of those reprintings and all the rumors of a planned Flash Gordon film, such as with this extensive Flash Gordon site.
Plans are for a July air date, and a "conteomprary retelling of the comic-strip story created in 1934," according to the Sci Fi Wire. According to Forbidden Planet, there is some question as to the ability the creative team put in place for the show will have in producing a high-quality Flash Gordon series, but I'm not familiar with the Halmis' work. And, last week, they questioned whether a new TV series might lead to a new comic for the popular super hero.
Could the new TV series lead to a cross-platform rebirth for Flash Gordon?