Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The League watches: Flash Forward


I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to a humorless series in which 9/10ths of the characters have already shown us the bleak future they're headed towards in the next 6 months.

I was also very not impressed by the seeming "check off the boxes" that seemed to fill the episode.

Roguish, drinking law-enforcement guy with a marriage on the rocks? check
Idyllic morning scene to establish the characters, complete with them rising for the day in a massive suburban LA home? check
Doomed sidekick? check (only, we already know that ain't gonna happen)
Creepy kids? check
Overblown disaster scene trying to top pilot of Lost (I expect this will be a new prime-time series standard)? check

There's the mystery of "what happened" which can't be much of a mystery for long as there's a novel out there upon which the series is based. That said: I presume the "why" will be changed, just as the protagonist is no longer a physicist, but an FBI agent.


Anyway, the show did have a good hook (everyone passed out for 2 minutes!), with a sort of awkwardly revealed twist (and saw their future. sort of!). But the producers saw to it that the characters started off as generic TV characters, and not particularly interesting ones at that. So knowing where they're headed doesn't actually add a whole lot of appeal.

And, while I'm sticking with ABC's Lost to the bitter end, Jason said it best when he rolled his eyes and began to complain about how common time-travel/ glimpses of the future/ etc... have become in TV these days. Which is interesting, considering what a pain time-travel is in any medium or genre, and how badly its usually executed.

I might also mention (and I'm a little ashamed I know this), but Smallville is basically doing the same thing this season by giving Lois a flashback/ flashforward for the season.


JMD said...

This show was pretty lousy. There was only a moment when it seemed remotely interesting: the immediate aftermath of the flashforward, as that is the only sequence that captured the depth of what such an event would cause. Were a flashforward to happen, it would be bigger than 9/11 - the death toll caused by accidents, the suspicion and religious hysteria, et cetera. But here, once we see the initial devastation in L.A. and a few token shots of familiar foreign landmarks, that's it. Such an earth shattering event happens, and the FBI agent and the doctor are home in time for dinner and conversation? And let me get this straight: a single field agent in an FBI branch office is put in charge of this investigation? Right. And finally, with such a major crazy event happening to everyone in the world, I'm supposed to care about one character's return to alcoholism or another's possible infidelity? Those are the big mysteries on this show? Give me a break

J.S. said...

Well, I'll admit that the show has problems, but there's still a little hope in there, too. Hope comes in the form of watching the show to see if there turns out to be some incredibly cool explanation for the mystery that the writers/producers are planning on stringing people along with for the next 24+ episodes. I mean, I don't really want to continue watching the show, but what if it turns out that the flash forward was caused by super cool space clown alien ninjas? It would kill me if I missed that.

The League said...

I looked up the novel online, and I see no way in which the characters they have in place would lead to the explanation from the book. (something that sounds great in a book, and would work there... and I sort of wonder if it won't be similar to the explanation we'll get for Lost).

I was writing too fast and furious last night, but I meant to make the point that Jim did. What seems interesting in the premise is the recovery effort from a world wide disaster. The cardboard TV characters didn't do anything interesting enough to make me feel their domestic issues were more interesting than the fact that Air Force 2 went down, the massive recovery effort, etc...

The fact we didn't get a single shot of a White House or international response was sort of incredible (also, wouldn't all the people sleeping on the other side of the planet feel kind of gypped? Most likely they'd also be sleeping in 6 months, too).

Anyway, it seems like a fairly interesting premise which is going to turn into "24".

I have a sinking feeling I won't feel much better about "V", Elizabeth Mitchell or not.

Simon MacDonald said...

I have not seen the first episode yet but I do have it taped. I'm pretty excited about it in general as I have read and did love the book in which it was based on.

I think the concept it great science fiction as it makes us think a great deal. Is the future fixed or malleable? How would society react to having future knowledge? Would knowing a stock is going up be considered insider trading?

Anyway, I think there are a lot of things they can explore and I'm hoping it is a success.

The League said...

Simon, I think that's part of the problem. The idea seems, on its surface, like a good one. And what I read about the novel online sounds very interesting.

But the "TV-ness" of the pilot was extremely off-putting and overwhelmed the promise of the concept.

I give us five episodes before we're neck deep in another Dharma initiative mixed with elements of 24 and a heaping, helping of drama driven entirely by people's unwillingness to share basic information (a la: Kate on Lost).

J.S. said...

Yeah, I'm mostly just discouraged by more time travel stories because it we've been seeing way too many of these things for several years now without many original developments in terms of how they're used in plotlines. And I just read the Wikipedia entry on the book, and although it sounds really interesting (much cooler than most of the time travel stuff I've seen lately), I would bet that they're going to dumb everything down substantially for this TV show.

Michael Corley said...

My boss seemed pretty excited about it. I know I won't check in. I'm not really into "bleak".