‘Flash Gordon’ Serial

(Above: Carol Hughes as Dale Arden, Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon)

Think handling your family is tough on Thanksgiving? Try conquering the universe!

On second thought, leave that task to Flash Gordon in the classic movie serial, Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940). You can feast on all 12 chapters this Thursday from 1 pm to 7pm ET over Comet TV, the free science fiction network that’s available online or free over-the-air via an antenna hooked up to your TV set.

Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, the third serial to star Buster Crabbe as the space-traveling hero, is in the public domain, so we can get you started with the first chapter right here:

Comet TV is also showing the first two Flash Gordon serials, which aren’t so easily available. As part of the channel’s regular two-hour weekly Flash Gordon block, this Sunday starting at 5 pm you can catch the last three chapters of Flash Gordon: Trip to Mars (1938) and the first chapter of the serial that started it all, Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers (1936).

Back in 1936, though, that first outing was titled just Flash Gordon. It was renamed in the early 1950s to avoid confusion with the first Flash Gordon TV series. Starring Steve Holland, Flash Gordon aired on Dumont stations during that network’s final season (but with the then-standard 39 half-hour episodes). Here’s episode one:

You can stream 15 surviving episodes of the series at Uncle Earl’s Classic TV Channel.

A more recent series titled Flash Gordon ran on Si-Fi (now SyFy) in 2007-2008. Starring Eric Johnson, you can now buy the entire season (21 episodes, 42 minutes each) for $14.99 from Amazon.

But you can watch the first episode free right here:

Numerous other iterations of Flash Gordon have appeared in films and on TV, with perhaps none so notorious as portrayed by Jason Williams in the soft-core satire, Flesh Gordon (1974). It too is available from Amazon, for a $1.99 rental fee.

Here’s a trailer (NSFW):


About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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