Ming the Merciless…Middle Manager?

Tonight I had the distinct pleasure of watching no fewer than two and no more than four minutes of the new Flash Gordon show on the Sci-Fi network. I witnessed parts of two different scenes, and somewhere between the two and four minute marks I could no longer resist the pressure building up in the fleshy pad of my index finger to turn the television off and seek refuge in bed.

The first part had three characters – I think one of them was Flash, he was a former Smallville football player and Lana Lang love interest in a red jumpsuit, which makes him either Flash Gordon or an escapee from the Satellite of Love – walking around what distinctly appeared to be the back lot of the “studio” the series is filmed at. I think that the dialogue had something to do with the characters looking for the canteen trailer to get bagels, cream cheese and lattes before going through the space warp next to the dumpster.

The next part showed what appeared to be a minor functionary in an office somewhere in Vancouver, B.C., meeting with several people that appeared to have complaints. One of them, a lady carrying a cute little Canadian baby, was complaining that her child had been declared as somehow being impure. Probably because he’s Canadian, I thought to myself, but I kept those thoughts hidden – until now. The assistant complaints department manager argued with her for several moments before I could no longer watch and began to prepare for bed and the hopefully inevitable loss of the memories of this experience to age-induced brain atrophy.

“Oh, that guy shouldn’t have been cast as Ming,” my wife quipped from the couch.

I gaped, openly, my uvula swinging in the basement breeze. “That was Ming…the Merciless?”

“Yes,” she replied, “I watched the first episode.”

My world tilted at a 30-degree angle, and I expected to see Burt Ward and Adam West engaging in fisticuffs with Burgess Meredith and Frank Gorshin on the deck of a Navy-surplus submarine any second. That complaints department assistant manager – the one with wavy blond hair, a smooth chin and creamy complexion – was Ming the Merciless? Can’t frakkin’ be!

I think my first problem with Ming being a blonde Canadian is that, like most others my age, I saw the Flash Gordon cartoon of the 70’s and of course the movie featuring Brian Blessed’s greasy thighs and chicken bone-strewed beard. Ming looked nothing like what Sci-Fi was trying to sell – he was much more…merciless looking.

Additionally, Ming is supposed to be merciless. He doesn’t argue with people making complaints. He would send the complaining subject back to her labor brothel and dispose of the deviant baby in some manner befitting a meglomaniacal planetary dictator, not patiently explain his well-intentioned but flawed reasons for wanting to maintain the purity of the Vancouver gene pool.

Finally, Ming the Merciless doesn’t have a desk. With a desk would come an office chair, probably a pretty crappy one that doesn’t have lumbar support. He doesn’t have a pencil cup, post-it notes, desk calendar, coffee mug, keyboard tray or humorous little sign that says, “You want it WHEN?!” He doesn’t have a laptop, a network login, a domain password or an email address. He doesn’t have weekly staff meetings, quarterly goal reviews or Successories posters carefully stationed around the office to motivate his human resources. He doesn’t write job descriptions or go to happy hour to dish about the new Accounting manager with the girls from the steno pool.

Ming the Merciless has a throne and a bevy of supplicant concubines. That’s all he needs.


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