This quest began when I was little. I don’t know exactly how old, but this film first aired in 1982 which would make me 6 at the time, and that fits the timeframe, so that’s the age I’m going with. I saw this cartoon on TV and I thought the name of it was “Flash Gordon”, but when I tried to find it in the TV listings I could find nothing. The Superfriends series was still running (at least in reruns) and reruns of Filmation DC cartoons were still on the air sometimes, both of which included the characters “Flash” and “Aquaman”. This led me to great confusion. Seeing “Flash” but no “Flash Gordon” made me think that I had the name wrong, but the character didn’t look at all the same (aside from a red costume) and the story didn’t seem at all the same (although my memory of the story was sparse even at the time). I then thought that it was Aquaman I had seen before, because Aquaman and Flash Gordon (at least the cartoon version of Flash Gordon) looked very much alike, but again the story didn’t come close to my vague memories and I was certain that “Flash” was in the name. In the end I convinced myself that I had seen one of the DC based series which featured both Flash and Aquaman and had merely mixed the two together in my mind.
I wasn’t completely convinced though, and the vague memories kept nagging at me for many many long years. At one point in the early 1990s the live action Flash Gordon movie was on cable and I thought to myself “I was right! Their -IS- a Flash Gordon movie!”, but when I watched it I quickly realized it was not what I had seen before. It did feel rather familiar though, a fact which just made that nagging urge to answer the long-standing question nag me even stronger.
Flash forward a couple more decades…..
(I know, that was a bad pun.)
That nagging urge popped up again recently and this time I was finally able to find the answer. Filmation had made both a cartoon series and an animated TV movie based on Flash Gordon. The series was made in 1979, the movie was actually made before the series but not shown until 1982. I cannot be absolutely certain whether it was an episode of the series which I saw way back then or if it was the movie, but I am reasonably certain it was the movie. The timing fits perfectly, it being a TV movie would explain why I was never able to find it again, it had “Flash” in the name, and the character looks like Aquaman. I watched the movie and a couple of episodes of the series on Youtube and am certain that this mystery, which has lasted more than three decades, has at very long last been solved!
The full movie is available on YouTube:
When I rewatched this for the first time in over 30 years (and only the second time ever) none of the story nor events seemed at all familiar (aside from having seen a version of the tale via the live action movie), but certain elements like the theme song and scenes with the rocket ship did feel very familiar. There were just enough familiar elements to let me know that this was indeed the cartoon that I had been seeking for so long. As I continued to watch however, other elements seemed familiar in a different way. First and foremost was Flash’s voice. Many of you will recognize him as Thundarr the Barbarian, while others may recognize him as Tarzan from the old Filmation series. Another familiar element was the low sultry voice of Princess Aura, which you may recognize as the voice of She-Ra. While I was looking up the voice actors I found that one character was done by a familiar actor, even though the voice wasn’t recognizable. Thun, the lion-man, is voiced by Lurch from the old Addams Family show!