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The whole world goes unconscious for 2 minutes. It is a catastrophe the likes of which the world has never seen. People die, the world is thrown into disarray and it is obvious there is some kind of cover up happening. This thing has gone international. Who is going to figure it out? Some lower level FBI agent in the Los Angeles field office!! That’s who! Huh?
Look, I'm all for a good mystery. If there is a hint of science fiction in there, well then I'm fully on board. I love Lost nearly as much as I love my wife. I plowed through Alias in record time on DVD. I'm chomping at the bit for V. But FlashForward just hasn't lived up to expectations. Consider this: It aired last Thursday. I just watched it onDemand today. Uh-oh. Bad sign. But enough about my viewing habits, what are the real problems with FlashForward? Everyone likes lists. Let’s do one.
Let’s call it “rough” acting:
We could probably just start and stop right here. Joseph Fiennes is just not a good actor; at least not for this kind of format. He looks like a deer in headlights half the time, and the other half I feel like he is work-shopping "Being angry," or "I'm sad." (all while just barely maintaining an American accent.) I’d rather see him doing some kind of Shakespearean play. The rest of the crew is variations on the same theme. They are secondary actors forced to carry scenes. It doesn’t work. I wish I knew a better way to explain bad acting, but like the Aurora Borealis, it is just something you need to see to explain.
Too big of a problem:
The collective loss of consciousness, in a vacuum, is an extremely cool idea. It's like the rapture in the Left Behind series without involving heavy handed religion (and douchebaggy, cliché-riddled writing). Cataclysmic events make for great drama, don't get me wrong. And I am the king of suspending disbelief, but this is really too big of a problem. It affected the WHOLE world! Wouldn’t there be a bit more of an outcry? More chaos? Imagine for one second everyone passed out right now for two minutes and saw their futures. Do you think you would be going back to work the next day? Would you go back to work at all? Not me. I'd either be A: too depressed about what I saw in my dream or B: joining some kind of cult. In FlashForward’s world it is basically business as usual.
Who are the villains?:
Admittedly, this last episode finally introduced Dominic Monaghan’s character, Simon Costa, who seems genuinely evil. And I believe there are definitely bad guys, but who are they besides him? He references “we,” which suggests there are villains out there. FlashForward has done a frustrating job in keeping this aspect of the show under wraps. They even resorted to Mark chasing masked men in his neighborhood only to have them be kids egging houses. Come on. Something like this happens every episode. In Lost, at least the Others gave us little hints as to their perceived evil. They kept us wondering. In FlashForward we are just left to presume someone (Costa) has intentions behind all of this. It’s flimsy at best, almost non-existent at worst. Who am I rooting against? Right now I am just cheering for Special Agent Benford to start hitting the bottle hard. Which leads me to:
The (yawn) characters (yaaaawwwwnn) are “yaaaaaaawwwwwnnnnn”:
Benford is an alcoholic. Demetri might die. After that, do we really care about anyone else in this show? I know I don’t. Benford’s wife is having an affair with some villain? Who cares. The other FBI agent is going to get pregnant? Snooze. Here is the biggest indictment of the whole cast: I have seen every episode and I needed to go on the website to find out any of the other characters’ names. That is bad, bad, bad. Maybe it is my fault for not paying enough attention, but honestly do you know what Mark’s wife’s name is? His sponsor? Anyone else? I know I don’t.
The Lost problem:
Before FlashForward came out all I heard was, "It's the new Lost." Red Alert! Red Alert! The basic problem here is expectation, which isn’t totally fair to the show, but a problem nonetheless. Lost is arguably the most creative, interesting, thought out, and detailed shows of all time. Could any show possibly swoop in and take that mantle from the get go? Not a chance. But the problem of expectation is that it transforms how we perceive something. Obviously it isn't fair, but it’s a reality. Solving a large, multi-faceted mystery / cover-up is something Lost did (and is doing) in such an intricate way we can't help but make the comparison. Aside from substituting the polar bear with a kangaroo, FlashForward has fallen a bit flat with the comparison.
FlashForward is not without its interesting pieces. The autistic boy, the sponsor’s daughter still being alive, the autistic kid’s father being part of the Flash, the bodies in the house, and Mark’s board are all noteworthy. But think of it this way: we are six episodes in and basically nothing has happened. The show is dancing around the subject in question to a startlingly frustrating degree. For me to keep going with FlashForward something needs to happen and quick. The show has too many other faults to not get us to the good stuff soon.