The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Television Collision: FlashForward Is Plenty Flashy, But Not Very Forward-Thinking

Written by: Phoebe Raven, CC2K Staff Writer

ImageI am the first one to admit that I tend to have a hard time with anything science fiction. Not because I am categorically against it, but because it takes a lot for me to be convinced that what I see happening in the sci-fi product could actually happen. I like rationality and science and logic, so if something is “too far out there” chances are I won’t enjoy it much.

Which of course doesn’t mean it can’t still be of good quality. It’s just a personal taste of mine. I have a hard enough time figuring out life on earth to add on to that life in other galaxies or as a potential superhero.

Nonetheless, I give most of the sci-fi themed shows on TV a chance. I am actually somewhere in the middle of Season Four of Lost and I already got my hands on Battlestar Galactica (I admit, I am late coming to that one). I gave up on Heroes in its second season, but that didn’t stop me from tuning into ABC’s FlashForward to see what it had to offer.

Up until this point there are a few interesting aspects to the show and the philosophical concept it explores (pre-determination, coincidence, destiny), but all in all the show has little new to offer.
While initially I was quite intrigued by the thought how much mayhem actually could happen if the whole planet blacked out for 137 seconds, the more I thought about it the less sense it made. Why would office buildings explode and catch on fire? Not just one, but tons of them, as we saw happen in L.A. I mean, when was the last time you left a copy machine unattended for two minutes and it burst into flames?

ImageA lot of these things happen in FlashForward that shock or surprise you initially, but then when you think about it, they aren’t really all that interesting or logical. Every twist and turn in the mystery storyline feels very labored, as if someone was trying to rip off Lost, but couldn’t quite figure out how to do it. (Granted, Lost faltered along its way as well, leaving tons of smaller mysteries unsolved and complicating things beyond anyone’s possible grasp, but at least in the first two seasons its mystery came effortless and with real shock moments.)

The really interesting thing about FlashForward is the psychological journeys it explores. If we get a glimpse of our future, will this future only come true BECAUSE we know about it or REGARDLESS of whether we know about it? Is it pre-determined and nothing we do can change our future? Or can we change it because we now know about it? Does that mean everyone’s flash forwards will come true? And if not, is it then wise to let them guide your actions (in the positive or negative sense)?

And what about the people who didn’t have a flash forward? Does it really mean they will die or does it simply mean their story hasn’t been written yet, because they still have all their options open? And what about our free will? If because of the flash forward, someone decides to do something drastic (like Al did last week), does that have no effect or will it change the future?

Now, these concepts are interesting and mind-bending and I enjoy thinking about it. It drives me nuts how some of the characters let their flash forwards dominate everything in their lives in the NOW, even though the events in their visions haven’t even happened yet. It convinces me all the more of something I have always believed: it’s best not to know the future.

At the same time though I already feel that FlashForward is opening up too many side strings and back alleys and subplots. There are too many clues that get discovered and then ignored (are they even clues at all?). And the worst part is that the last episode hinted at a solution for the cause of the global blackout that might be too trivial for my taste. I actually think the best thing to do is to never explain the cause, because that makes it all the more frightening. Sort of like the monsters and demons and killers in horror movies are more terrifying when we don’t see them and are left with our own imagination.

ImageOf course FlashForward has been picked up for a full season, because ABC has to let the show get to April 29, 2010 so we can all find out whether the visions come true or not. But I doubt the show will continue beyond the first season. There are simply too many trite dialogs we have heard in countless Agent movies before. And there’s also a ton of bad acting. I am already more than sick and tired of Joseph Fiennes “brooding stare” that comes out more “can’t you see I am acting my ass off” than “I am genuinely disturbed by what is happening”.

Sonya Walger has never been a favorite of mine either. (Btw, the fact that she was in Lost and now popped up here had my head spinning in a huge “maybe the island is connected to this blackout” conspiracy theory for a while). She slips in and out of her accent every now and then and there is just something about her enunciation that drives me nuts. I like her character way better than her on-screen husband’s though.

All that said, I do keep watching the show every week, but not with half the intrigue I ever had for Lost. That show had likable characters and genuine moments of shock and surprise. FlashForward has a bunch of mopes and one-dimensional foils and lots of pretense.
But hey, at least they used real German actors for the scenes in Germany. Not a lot of shows or movies do that, so kudos for it (even though the storyline in Germany and the German characters still lacked any type of depth or reflected cultural knowledge about Germany).

What’s your take, dear readers? Is FlashForward forward-thinking or is it simply old coffee re-heated?



Recommended Collisions with your Television

(combine at will, all times EST, only new programming listed)


Tuesday, November 10th
 8 p.m.  So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)
   V (ABC)
 9 p.m.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)
 10 p.m.
 The Good Wife (CBS)
   Sons of Anarchy (FX)
Wednesday, November 11th
 8 p.m.  New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS)
   So You Think You Can Dance – Results (Fox)
   Mercy (NBC)
 8:30 p.m.  Gary Unmarried (CBS)
 9 p.m.
 Glee (Fox)
   Law & Order: SVU (NBC)
   Criminal Minds (CBS)
 10 p.m.
   Nip:Tuck (FX)
Thursday, November 12th  
 8 p.m.  Vampire Diaries (CW)
   Bones (Fox)
   FlashForward (ABC)
   Community (NBC)
 8:30 p.m.  Parks and Recreation (NBC)
 9 p.m.
 Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
   The Office (NBC)
   CSI (CBS)
   Supernatural (CW)
 9:30 p.m.  30 Rock (NBC)
 10 p.m.  Project Runway (Lifetime)
   The Mentalist (CBS)
   Private Practice (ABC)
   It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX)
Friday, November 13th
 8 p.m.  Ghost Whisperer (CBS)
   Law & Order (NBC)
   Smallville (CW)
 9 p.m.
 Medium (CBS)
   Ugly Betty (ABC)
   Monk (USA)
 10 p.m.
Saturday, November 14th
Sunday, November 15th
 8 p.m.  The Simpsons (Fox)
 9 p.m.
 Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
   Dexter (Showtime)
   Desperate Housewives (ABC)
   Family Guy (Fox)
 10 p.m.
 Californication (Showtime)
   Brothers & Sisters (ABC)
   Cold Case (CBS)
Monday, November 16th
 8 p.m.
 How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
   House (Fox)
   Heroes (NBC)
 8:30 p.m.  Accidentally on Purpose (CBS)
 9 p.m.
 Two and a Half Men (CBS)
   Gossip Girl (CW)
   Trauma (NBC)
 9:30 p.m.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
 10 p.m.  Castle (ABC)
   CSI:Miami (CBS)







Author: Phoebe Raven, CC2K Staff Writer

Born in Germany, lived in the US, now in the UK. Always taking my love for TV and writing with me. Life participator. Blogger. Gaming enthusiast.

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