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.


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.

hobbyfan said...

It had been six years since the "Flash Gordon" movie, which at the time of this show, was out on VHS, so there might've been renewed interest. Mandrake & The Phantom were still being published in newspaper strips then, and I think Phantom still is.