Saturday Morning Fever #10 – Flash Gordon

Rob and special guest Cory Drew blast off to the planet Mongo to discuss the classic 1979 Filmation cartoon THE NEW ADVENTURES OF FLASH GORDON!


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11 responses to “Saturday Morning Fever #10 – Flash Gordon

  1. I am enjoying this episode covering a cartoon I haven’t really considered for decades!

    The push to “clean up” Saturday morning television actually started long before the 1980s. In 1968, a woman named Peggy Charren (1928-2015) formed “Action For Children’s Television” (ACT). She went on to lead ACT for over 25 years, encouraging program diversity and the elimination of commercial abuses in children’s television through national conferences, publications, public education campaigns, dialogue with broadcasters, and petitions to federal regulatory agencies. ACT’s culminating success was the passing of the Children’s Television Act of 1990 into law. Some critics called her the “killer of Saturday Morning” as ACT led the networks to eliminate any overt violence that could be imitated by a child. That’s the reason why the Super Friends were fighting pollution and never throwing punches during the early 1970s.

    The stated purpose of the Children’s Television Act of 1990 – Title I: Requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to prescribe standards for commercial television broadcast licensees that limit the duration of advertising in programs for children to a specified number of minutes per hour.” Since 1997, all full-power and Class A low-power broadcast television stations have been required to broadcast at least three hours (or more if they operate digital subchannels) per-week of programs that are specifically designed to meet the educational and informative (E/I) needs of children aged 16 and younger.

    Here is a December 1985 NY Times article on the controversy of TV programs and toys aimed at kids:

    1. The violence allowed in Flash Gordon always confused me. There are robots* Flash can throw around, and for everyone else, Barin’s men have “freeze” arrows, but then he gets in a swordfight with Ming?! Then there’s the more antiseptic “fantasy violence” of starship combat — I should say “rocketship” — but Hawkmen are in the sky, too, and we see them get completely vaporized with one shot!

      I had an epiphany about the yardgoods nature of Saturday morning cartoons when first seeing so many of them had like 15-18 episodes. At some point I realized that 52 weeks divided by 3 is about 17. So, one original showing and two rounds of reruns per year, maybe preemption for sports or a holiday. I wonder if it had something to do with there having been three networks.

      *I love robots, and these have a great design, especially the face. At one point I got a purist bug up my bonnett, and wondered if I should like them, as they weren’t from the source material. Then I got the briefly-in-print DVD set, and was reminded that the characters refer to them as “the Metal Men of Mongo.” How can I not love the Metal Men of Mongo!?

  2. Oh, man, what a great topic; I used to absolutely *love* the Filmation Flash Gordon cartoon – I was already a big fan of Filmation’s Tarzan and Batman cartoons, and to me Flash Gordon ramped the goodness up to eleven. Everything about it was so cool: the story, the setting, the characters and the fact that it told a serialized story for its entire (first) run.
    Otherwise, I never knew that there had been a second season – by the time it started, I had basically aged out of watching Saturday morning cartoons (only occasionally – and very much unlike Cory – watching the Bugs Bunny/Warner Bros cartoons when I was in high school). It seems like I didn’t miss much, though. It’s too bad they resorted to formulaic story-telling and a cute animal sidekick after that fantastic first season.
    As for the movie – I totally remember watching it when it was aired. Back then, I thought it was a slightly edited version of the first 4-5 episodes of the Saturday morning cartoon with a few bits added (I’m specifically thinking of the belly dancers mentioned by Rob!) to make it a bit more ‘adult.’ Also, I seem to recall that the whole thing was up on YouTube a few years ago, but I guess it got taken down. Too bad.

  3. Fun show guys! I remember watching this show as a kid, but I haven’t gone back and seen it since, other than a few snippets. This is despite hearing how well it was made and still plays today. So I need to remedy that! I also heard of the film version, but have never seen it.

    Alan Oppeheimer not only provided the voice of Man-At-Arms (and Cringer/Battle Cat), but most importantly was Skeletor on He-Man and MOTU! So Ming was kind of his first go at mustache-twirling villain. He was also one of the Rudy Wells on the Six Million Dollar Man, so lots of nerd cred.

    Those Mattel figures were very nice! I have Flash and Ming today, and they look great amongst my 3.75″ figures. The cardbacks for those figures are some of the best ever produced for ANY action figure line. It’s no wonder NECA reused the art on the recent redecos of their Flash and Ming figures in the cartoon style. Something else for you to buy, Rob!!!


  4. Running a little late commenting, but it’s always a joy to hear a new episode of Saturday Morning Fever.
    I missed most of the Funimation late 70’s action/adventure shows, including this one, because I’m a little older than both of you and needed my Saturday Morning sleep at that point, so I ceded the TV to my younger siblings until it was time for American Bandstand. I’m glad to hear it’s available on Tubi so I can check it out. There are a couple things I’d like to comment on, though.

    I’m with Cory on this one – you need to see Wizards, it’s a serious trip. Also has Mark Hamill in a minor voice role as Sean.

    I need to look up this Popeye featurette you mentioned, as I’m a big fan of this sort of odd crossover. To answer your question, “Barney Google and Snuffy Smith” was not only in production in the 70’s, it’s still running today.

    And finally – yes, Vic Perrin was on Twilight Zone. But from that era, he’s arguably much more famous in his role as the Narrator for the original Outer Limits. Given that, I agree he’d seriously crush it as Ming.

    Again, great to hear a new episode. Hopefully it won’t be another year until the next.

  5. Great show gents! Working from memory I recall a tale that the spaceships were not rotoscoped. They were white models with black lines and filmed on a white background to produce the animation cels with only the black lines remaining so they could be painted.

    Travis Morgan

    1. Doh! The spaceships were not traditionally rotoscoped. By using the above technique they did not to have to film spaceships AND THEN trace them so a step was cut out of the rotoscoping process.

      Travis Morgan

  6. Did some body say Thundarr?!!
    Ok here’s a few shows and a couple episodes that would make a good show .
    Thundarr the Barbadian s2 ep.8 tittle : Prophecy of the peril. Also here’s some for a Halloween special. Swat Kats s1 ep9 the Gosht pilot and s2 ep 11
    The dark side of the swat kats . Maybe you can bring P.J fritefull in and shags pal dark side .

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