Friday, April 17, 2015

Daytime Heroes: Defenders of the Earth (1986)

King Features Syndicate, their TV arm, Hearst Entertainment, and Marvel teamed to develop Defenders of the Earth, which brought together three of KFS' greatest adventure heroes, Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician, and The Phantom. Not only that, but Flash and Phantom were given teenage offspring. Mandrake's aide, Lothar (Buster Jones, Super Friends), was also given a son. It had only been a few years since Flash's NBC series had come to an end, so it was a bit of a shock to see him and nemesis Ming the Merciless return so soon.

The weird part? The team was given a super-computer that had the memories of Flash's slain wife, presumed to be Dale Arden, according to a Marvel-Star Comics adaptation of the series. Judging by the copyright at the start of the series opener, "Escape From Mongo", Defenders had been in development for a year before hitting the air in 1986. Unfortunately, the series lasted just 1 season.

Here's the intro:



Nearly 30 years later, the Defenders came back together, this time on the printed page, as Dynamite Entertainment produced the miniseries, King's Watch, which has since spawned solo series featuring Flash, Mandrake, and Phantom under the King imprint. After a cable run on Sci-Fi (now SyFy) in the 90's, Defenders of the Earth hasn't aired on television. Hulu, I think, would fill that void, if they had all 65 episodes (and they don't at the moment).

Rating: None. Didn't see enough of the show to merit a rating.

12 comments:

magicdog said...

I saw this and it wasn't bad. It was introduction to The Phantom and Mandrake. My dad used to love these characters as a kid (having seen the 30s Flash Gordon shorts in theatres as reading the comics they appeared in). I think it was a risk to bring back characters that may have been unfamiliar to young audiences (Flash being the exception) but I still enjoyed it.

Austin Schivera said...
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hobbyfan said...

Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adv. of them All was, I think, a reissue of season 1 (1979).

Austin Schivera said...
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hobbyfan said...

From Wikipedia (take it with a grain of salt if necessary):

"The original project was produced as a made-for-television feature film. When NBC saw the finished work, it was decided to turn the work into an animated TV series. The change in format resulted in the story being significantly expanded with a subplot of Ming secretly giving military technology to Hitler being dropped, as well as being set in the present day rather than during World War II. When the series was canceled after its 2nd season, the original footage was reassembled with the original soundtrack, including the final role of Ted Cassidy, and aired on primetime in 1982 as a TV movie, Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of All."

That should settle the argument before it spirals out of control.

Austin Schivera said...
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Austin Schivera said...
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hobbyfan said...

Yeah, I get that, but it seems NBC was more interested in making it a series, then repackaging it into a movie, so it works both ways after all.

Austin Schivera said...
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hobbyfan said...

Try telling that to the network nimrods of that period.

Austin Schivera said...
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hobbyfan said...

That's why I said, in reference to quoting Wikipedia, to take that notation with a grain of salt.