Network: First-run syndication
Episodes: 65 (half-hour)
TV show dates: September 8, 1986 – May 1, 1987
Series status: Cancelled or ended
Performers include: Adam Carl, Ron Feinberg, Buster Jones, Loren Lester, Sarah Partridge, Diane Pershing, Peter Renaday, Lou Richards, Peter Mark Richman, Dion Williams, and William Callaway.
TV show description:
Flash Gordon (Lou Richards) is the legendary space hero who has thwarted the evil plans of dictator Ming the Merciless (William Callaway, then Ron Feinberg) for years. His teenage son, Richard “Rick” Gordon (Loren Lester), is headstrong, impulsive and a computer genius. Ming’s children, Prince Kro-Tan (Hal Rayle) and Princess Castra, sometimes aid the emperor.
Mandrake the Magician (Peter Renaday) is a cultured man of mystery who uses magic and illusions to defeat his foes. He’s assisted by his close friend Lothar (Buster Jones), a very strong mechanical wizard and master tactician. His son and protege is Lothar Junior or “LJ” (Dion Williams), a street-smart martial arts expert who’s best friends with Rick. Kshin (Adam Carl) is an orphaned Asian boy who’s been adopted by Mandrake and is being trained as an apprentice. His pet is a cute creature called Zuffy, an orphaned Zuffoid that Rick found on Mongo.
The Phantom (Peter Mark Richman), otherwise known as “The Ghost Who Walks,” is the 27th person to protect the jungle under this guise. By reciting a chant, he is temporarily given the superhuman strength of ten tigers. His daughter is Jedda Walker (Sara Partridge), a young lady who possesses telepathic powers and has a black panther named Kisa.
As the animated series begins, Flash Gordon’s spaceship crash lands near the mansion of Mandrake and Lothar. Flash tells of Ming’s impending plans to invade Earth. He barely escaped from Ming’s dungeons and was forced to leave his wife and teenage son behind. While trying to brainwash her, Ming’s evil Inquisitor drains the life force from Rick’s mother before she can be rescued. Her essence is contained in a crystal and is transferred into Rick’s planned super computer — Dynak X (Diane Pershing).
Flash’s old friend, the Phantom, and his young daughter, Jedda, join the group and they all become the Defenders of the Earth. They swear allegiance to the ultimate destruction of Ming and the protection of the planet Earth.
Episode 65 — The Thunder Lizards of Ming
The Defenders fly to Alaska to inspect a dinosaur alert. While following dinosaur tracks, Rick and LJ discover that a long-dormant volcano, with an artificial dome placed over it, is mysteriously heating up. The senior Defenders and Jedda spot Ming and Garax, while the Defenders are attacked by two Allosauruses. After a narrow escape, the group discovers Ming’s evil scheme — he’s used a drill to thaw out tens of thousands of beasts buried in the frozen tundra, and is sending them out to destroy the cities of the Earth. The young Defenders figure out how to work Ming’s drill, and use it to blow up the drilling station. The volcano explodes, ripping off the dome, and the arctic climate returns — obliterating the Valley of the Dinosaurs.
First aired: May 1, 1987.
What happened next?
Some of the characters have been seen in other media but this show has not been revived or remade.
Behind the Scenes
Though it’s widely assumed that Rick’s mother is Dale Arden, Flash’s longtime love-interest from the comics and other series, she is never referred to by name.