Monday, October 26, 2009

Flashforward 1.05: Gimme Some Truth

I'm almost a week late on this post, but I think Flashforward is officially leaving me flat. When a show starts off slow, you should give it 3 to 4 weeks to see if it gets any better (except in the case of 90210 last season... one episode was enough. And yes, I've heard it's better this season, but I don't care). But in the case of Flashforward, it started off with a bang, then the second week was even better, and since then it's quickly fallen apart, and I find it's not something I'm really looking forward to watching.

Now, my husband, on the other hand, still thinks it's one of the best shows we watch, so I know my comments will probably be divisive. And I don't completely dislike it, don't get me wrong. But the things I like about it seem to be growing fewer and fewer, while the things that annoy me about it grow by the week. You all know what I like about it, since I've been posting on it weekly (go to the left side and scroll down to Labels, and you'll find Flashforward, where you'll see the rest of my blog posts on it). But here are some of the things that are starting to drive me batty:

1. There are simply too many characters and not enough about each of them to make me care much. On Lost, season 1 focused on one episode per character, so we came to sympathize with each one of them and got to know them intimately. On Heroes in season 1, the names of the characters always flashed on the screens before a scene, so we got to know them. I honestly can't tell you what half the names of the people on this show are. I have no idea who Mark's boss is, even though the actor is excellent and he was particularly good this week. But his name?

2. If I see that Flashforward of Olivia walking to the top of the stairs and saying, "Hello Darling" one more time, I'm gonna scream. I'm so sick of them honestly thinking we DO NOT remember something they've flashed at us, oh, 5 or 6 times now. I GET IT. SHE'S WITH SIMCOE. Does she think she's talking to someone else? Is she working undercover for the FBI and pretending to be with him to help Mark get to him, but she's not with him at all?

3. There's still that paradox I mentioned the last time that they're all going about their business in their flashforwards, and not sitting staring at the clock waiting for the moment to arrive. (OK, now I suddenly have this image of "Blackbird" playing over the finale episode.)

4. The cheese factor. The bad guy in the third episode was a Nazi. Wow. That's original. And the shoot-out in "Gimme Some Truth" at the end, complete with "How does it feel?!" blaring over the scene... COME ON. At our house there was silence, until I finally said, "OK, cheesiest moment ever?" and my husband burst out, "NO KIDDING! I was just thinking the same thing." And they were all in the car AS the bomb was heading toward them, and you want me to believe they somehow all escaped? I don't care WHAT the explanation was for that one, I don't think I'll be buying it.

Or how about Chah-lie finally calling Simcoe at the end of the 4th episode and saying, "Now that we've perpetrated the single biggest catastrophe in the history of human existence..." or something equally preposterous that one person would ever say to another... it reminded me of Charlie referring to Locke and his "four HUNDRED knives" in such a way that he was exaggerating for effect, and emphasizing his sarcasm.

5. It's always felt like there's been something missing from the show, and last week a friend of mine conveyed his thoughts after watching the first episode, "Where's the humour?" And I realized THAT is it. This show takes itself far, far too seriously. There's nothing funny about it. There are the occasional gags, but the show is trying so hard on every level that you can actually feel them straining to do so.

Will I continue to watch this show? Sure... I'm intrigued enough to find out where it's going. But there's SO much good TV on these days that all shows need to step up. Don't draw me into this as a Lost fan if the writing isn't going to hold up to Lost. Don't suggest that the two are anything alike when they're not, apart from the forced references to Lost that you insert in there.

And don't dangle Charlie in front of me like that and then take him away in the next episode!!! Ahem. OK, seriously, that wasn't a critique of this episode. Yes it was. No it wasn't.


It was.


MonkeyFace said...

I completely have voiced all my doubts in one post. Thank you. FF has yet to grow on me, despite the ample opportunity I have provided.

i'm not alone

MOCK! said...

My wife and I are torn, too. I truly hate the point EACH episode where the softly weepy ballad plays over the sentimental-esque scene.

We keep hitting mute and just wait.

And I just can't muster up ANYTHING for the ex-drunk who thinks his daughter is alive.


But I'm still watching...

stevenm said...

Couldn't agree with you more. This show has ALREADY jumped the shark. What about the guy in the warehouse? And the absolutely ridiculous political infighting? File this show under 'missed opportunity'.

chroniclesofawriter said...

Doesn't surprise me.

Susan said...

Nikki your friend is right about the humor (or lack of). Lost has many funny people and situations, and Heroes, which we have recently started watching, has Hiro and Ando. The only person on FF that seems like he could have been funny was Demetri but that's not going to happen due to his impending death. Mark's boss, Stan, (who was great as Jonesy from Red October) was a little funny early on but he's been getting more serious lately.

I'm still trying to give this show a chance, hopefully it will go opposite the course of Heroes which started out great but is tanking.

I do appreciate the fact that not every episode deals with Mark adding something to his board, but the pace of the mystery is pretty slow. And we still don't know enough about the characters to care about them.

joshua said...

Ditto all that, totally. I'm not quite ready to completely give up on it either, but boy, am I close. Every week, there seems to be a little something to keep me going (thought the image of the alarm clock tracking loopy swirls in what's-her-name's blood was great), but that little something is always outweighed by some kind of colossally ham-fisted misfire (cue Bob Dylan karaoke shootout) that makes me groan and hold my gut. Seriously, who could have possibly thought that was a good idea?

I read this past week that the network has fired the guy who was running the show, dissatisfied by the path the story has taken thus far. His episodes run through #6, I believe, so here's hoping that we'll see some kind of improvement beyond that point. Because otherwise, I've got better things to do.

Teebore said...

Eh, I'll keep watching it cuz the premise is interesting enough that I want to see SOME kind of payoff, but your criticisms are certainly spot-on, especially, for me, #2 and #3.

And to be fair, #3 doesn't bother me THAT much; all it would take is a line of dialogue to explain it away. Heck, a line of dialogue to ACKNOWLEDGE it. Have Mark say something like "you know, it's funny, I wonder why during the flashforwards we weren't all thinking "well, here's the time I saw during the blackout six months ago" and then they can explain it away sometime later. As it stands, it just seems like none of the writers have even realized the paradox.

As for #2, ARGH! Every time they show that flashback my wife and I yell at the TV. It's annoying when they re-show ALL the flashforwards like we're stupid, but especially that one (because it's been done SO often already).

Robbie said...

One thing you absolutely nailed is the names thing. I don't know ANY OF THEIR NAMES. I'm finally learning Agent Benford, mostly because I mixed up his name with Agent Ballard.

And what kind of name is Demetri for a korean?

The Question Mark said...

Good stuff, Nikki, you hit the nail on the head.

I will keep watching FF because it still intrigues me, but they sure are driving those flashforwards into our skulls. If they're expecting us to be Lost fans, then they should know we've been trained to remember stuff like that!

As for names, I feel the same way. I'm usually very good with names in movies/TV, but it's still a tad confusing here. I know Aaron is the guy with the beard, but I can't remember his last name. Same goes for Bentford's boss. His first name is Stanhope, but as for surname, who knows? I can't remember the first OR last names of the doctor that works with Pen...I mean, Olivia. and the heavyset guy who was singing karaoke with Demetri: yeah, I have no clue who he is.

Another thing that I find a bit weird is that there are some very recognizable actors popping up on the show, only to disappear right away and never be seen again:

-the guy who played Thomas on Lost (Aaron's biological father) played a great character, with half the episode revolving around him. Now...gone.

-Gina Torres (from Firefly) was introduced as Olivia's friend. She had a flash of her own that we saw (twice). Now...gone.

-Alan Ruck (from ferris Beuller) surprised us all with an appearance in that anger management meeting, speaking passionately about his flash. Now...gone.

-Seth McFarlane appeared in the pilot as an FBi agent, I think. Now...gone.

Are they gonna just keep teasing us with popular actors/actresses who won't contribute anything to the show's plotline. On Lost, EVERY single character is important somehow. I am still enjoying this show, but like Nikki said, i think they should have thought twice before shouting out from the mountaintops that this was gonna be the next Lost.

annie_a said...

I agree, this show is losing its spunk. Compeletely agree with the lack of humor and the fact that it takes itself way too seriously.

Personnally, it's the "I'm so torn/the fate of the world is resting on my shoulders" face of Joseph Fiennes that I can't tolerate anymore. ugh!

I'm holding big hopes for V, though.

anything while waiting for my Lost fix in 2010!

A.G.Wooding said...

I think it's good that your sticking to it. Soooo many ppl gave up with Fringe and Lost and are regretting it, Iv just started giving things one season to prove themselves and then bowing out (unfortunately this backfired with Heroes, bad times).
I understand theres something missing from this show but I've seen worse even although...
"That's ridiculous"

"What that Angelina Jolie is a game show host?"

"No, that I would ever let you down."

I did almost gag at this moment.

Zari said...

...misspelled as "Zaki" in "FindingLost5":

ABC has picked up “FlashForward” for a full season, the network announced Monday, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Executive producer Marc Guggenheim is leaving ABC's “FlashForward”. Guggenheim, who created “Eli Stone” for the network, was brought in as showrunner/co-executive producer to David S. Goyer after the pilot. Because of Goyer's limited hands-on TV series experience, Guggenheim was brought in to help with the launch of the mystery drama based on Robert Sawyer's novel.

After learning the ropes in a co-showrunner capacity on the original 12-episode order of “FlashForward” alongside Guggenheim, Goyer (who wrote “Batman Begins” and the “Blade” series) will fly solo for the series' back-nine order.

With a full-season pickup for the show secured, Guggenheim “departs to develop other projects.”

ABC says the sci-fi series has been a solid performer in the 8 p.m. Thursday slot and is the season's top new drama in the 18-to-34 demographic. DVR numbers also show “FlashForward”'s season premiere gained 2 million viewers to bring its total to 14.5 million.

“FlashForward” is the seventh new series to earn a full-season order, following the ABC comedies; “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “The Good Wife” on CBS; and “Glee” on Fox.

Mark’s boss is Agent Stanford Wedeck, played by Courtney B. Vance. One of Vance’s best known roles was as A.D.A. Ron Carver on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent"(111 episodes, 2001-2006).

He and his wife, Angela Bassett, became the parents of twins, a daughter Bronwyn Golden and son Josiah Slater, who were born on January 27, 2006, in California through a surrogate.

Nikki Stafford said...

Yikes, Zari, sorry! I didn't realize I'd misspelled anyone's name in the acknowledgements; I'd been so careful about transcribing them into my acknowledgements file. Eek... here I thought I was giving personal props to everyone for helping me out by naming the 100 or so people by name, and instead I've offended. I'm so sorry!

obscure said...

Funny you should mention not knowing anyone's name, since I was recently having a conversation with a friend about the show and I realized that I don't know any of their names either. I basically just refer to them by what they saw in their flashforward (since they talk about it so much!) or their character name from something else.

So as far as I'm concerned, this show is about FBI Shakespeare, who is married to Penny Widmore, trying to piece together what caused a huge disaster. This disaster may have been caused by Charlie Pace and the dude from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, who might sleep with Penny in the future. Shakespeare's boss is Guy Taking A Dump In The Future and his partner is Sulu. Shakespeare's friend is AA Man, whose daughter was Ruby 2.0 from Supernatural, and he was married to Sawyer's ex. There's also Formerly Suicidal Nurse and Babysitter Girl, but who knows how they fit into things.

Or, honestly, who cares how they fit. During that hilariously over-the-top shoot out last episode, I was struck by the fact that if those characters died, I would feel nothing. You can't do a big sci-fi ensemble and have a dozen flat characters no one cares about. Literally the only way I could care about Penny cheating on FBI Shakespeare is if I squint really hard and pretend he's Desmond.

Benny said...

The showrunner has indeed been fired because ABC didn't like the narrative he took. Hopefully Goyer will remedy this starting with ep 7!

But keep hanging in there. Slow to build an audience, then take off? I can only wish!

Debi said...

Although character development is important, I am willing to give them some time to do so. That is assuming that I don't give up first because the writers keep insulting our intelligence. The shoot-out scene where the FBI agents are surprised and out-gunned, yet still come out victorius without a scratch is beyond believable.

JS said...

Fully agree. In addition to taking itself to seriously, and lightness on the character development, they have a problem at the macro level. What else can possibly happen?

Not that this has to be lost (and who are we kidding, what will ever be), but where do they go from here? The thing that kept us at the beginning of lost was that the big disaster wasn't what we thought it was, there were bigger things going on. And they (arguably) gave us enough answers and questions to keep us coming back. And minimal cheesi-ness. What's bigger than a global blackout, short of extinction or aliens? Without great writing and great characters and great actors, those story lines are kind of hard to pull off on a weekly basis.

Jennifer said...

I agree about 90210. I suffered through last season and watched 1 and a half eps this year and gave up. I didn't read the rest of the post because I'm 3 weeks behind on watching Flashforward.

redeem147 said...

Not a comment on the show, exactly, but...

Did you know that Brien O'Byrne who plays beardy Iraqi daughter guy, was in the movie Easy with Naveen Andrews and Emily Deschanel (Bones).

Anonymous said...

i can't believe that within the span of one month i've gone from "this is a really interesting show" to "this show kinda sucks". where are the characters? where is the humor? where is the story?

seriously, i'm giving this show one more week, then i'm taking it off my dvr.

Nikki Stafford said...

My fingers are SO crossed that tonight's episode will rock. I just can't let it go just yet. I held onto Heroes for a season and a half beyond when I stopped liking it, but that's because I'd had 22 phenomenal episodes from season 1 that made me fall in love with it in the first place. With FF, the honeymoon was over by ep 3.

Did anyone see the recent Ken Tucker column on it in EW? This is the guy who declared Buffy one of the best shows on TV, who constantly says nice things about all the shows I love, and he said that FF was aces, and talked about all of the awesomeness about it, AND THEN ended his piece by saying that it has all of that AND a great sense of humour. I'm sorry... what?! Are we even watching the same show? His only complaint: that it LOOKS bad and production-wise it's uninteresting. HUH?! I'd say the look of the show is one of the most interesting things about it. Maybe we are watching a different show...

Question Mark: You are SO right about all of those great side characters popping up once and then disappearing. How could you have access to Gina Torres and Alan Ruck and NOT use it?!

joshua: I couldn't agree with you more about the image of the alarm clock: it was gorgeous and creepy and hideous and wonderful.

Jonathan said...

Well, last night's episode made it official. I'm off the show. I won't say more as I don't want to spoil it for the PVR people.

redeem147 said...

After last night, I realized I'm only watching for Rob's sake.

How are the ratings doing?

Benny said...

To those who want to drop (I haven't seen it yet) but there's a new showrunner starting with next week. New producer in charge.

So I suggest you check next week then make your decision. The previous showrunner was taken off because the way he delivered the plot was unpopular.

Just a note of interest!

Nathan said...

HEy Dunno if you guys noticed but before Mark goes running after the guy in the mask to the mausoleum a little girl in a Mr clucks chicken shack costume walks by and they spend sometime looking at her.
Lost reffferennnce

Anonymous said...

Do you watch Dollhouse? I find it is filling the "Lost" gap much better than Flashforward. It was difficult to watch at first, but it has really grown on me and the acting is outstanding. Unfortunatly, it does look as though it may not last another season.

Eric said...

I'm still undecided on this show.

I get the impression that they keep repeating things over and over to try to not scare away new viewers who may have missed something. I do find that annoying though. Those of us who watched the first episodes don't need to see the same thing over and over again. But for someone new it would be nice to be able to jump in and not be totally lost.

vlllad said...

Not to mention how risky it is for Simon to speak on the phone about the "great disaster" when all the secret services in the world are trying to find out who did it.