Five Not-Entirely-Sarcastic Reasons to Watch SciFi's "Flash Gordon"S

Flash Gordon, one of the SciFi Channel's new offerings this season, is so mind-bogglingly awful that it has transcended into the cheese stratosphere and become utterly compelling, must-watch insanity. And it's coming back tonight, beginning a string of new episodes. If you tune in to this show about rift-tripping nerds and hotties, you won't be able to look away - partly because you might miss the regular flashes of nip and ass on planet Mongo, where the dress code for ladies is "slit skirt diaphanous." Here are the five best reasons to catch Flash Gordon now, before it's canceled or improved to the point of being boring.

5. Though all the past versions of Flash Gordon, going back to the 1930s, have had rocket ships and space travel, this Flash Gordon is totally post-Space Age. Flash and his intrepid crew get to planet Mongo via some kind of ill-defined dimensional rift that looks sort of like a bad special effect went splat on the screen.

4. Everything has a silly name. Nobody on this show has made any effort to make the show weighty or stern, like the updated Battlestar Galactica. We still have a main character named Flash, plus planet Mongo, ruled by evil Ming, his leather-dress-wearing pal Rankol, and his daughter Princess Aura. Inhabitants of Mongo include the Hawkmen and the Deviates. Even stranger is that the show retained the names Mongo and Ming, despite their origins in anti-Asian sentiment of the early twentieth century (Ming the Merciless was originally Asiatic looking, and Mongo is a reference to Mongolia) - I guess they figured that if a bland, prissy white dude played Ming that nobody would realize.

3. There are lots of capes. The Hawkmen have these awesome, Gwar-like capes that allow them to fly in a way that is wonderfully inexplicable. Prince Barin has a big leather cape. Who can resist a show where capes are worn with no irony?

2. Rankol, Ming's evil advisor, floats around inside a giant black-leather dress covered in rivets. It's hinted that the reason we never see his feet is that he's actually scooting along on a giant tentacle. Plus, a part of his brain sticks out of his head. And he's got the hots for Princess Aura, which leads to hilarious thoughts of what he'd do with that tentacle given a chance.

1. Princess Aura's outfits and makeup are 1980s-retro sublime. A red swish across her eyes matches the spangly red, see-through Stevie Nicks number she's wearing. Black lace-up boots match the black, see-through ultra-mini sheath she's wearing. Her eyeliner is poignant. Her gold chain belts barely keep the floaty material in check. Sometimes, she has a see-through cape. I wish Aura would kill Flash and become the star of this show.