December 5, 2009

fall finale: flashforward

Like many Lost fans, I was really excited about FlashForward, but also trying not to rely on the comparison. Afterall, Lost took a while to develop, and FlashForward should be given the same space. After three episodes, I stopped watching FlashForward live and the episodes began to pile up in my DVR. Seven weeks later, it was fall finale time, and I needed to catch up, which is what I did over the past few days.

The fact that I quit watching was a bad sign, but I actually think watching the episodes straight through made them more enjoyable. FlashForward is certainly not what I hoped it would be - many seem to agree given the weak ratings - but there is some significant potential in many aspects of the show. In order to make it a little easier to recap my thoughts on the fall season, I'll go through the different characters/character groups:

Mark Benford: Mark is the hero. And here is where I think the primary problem with FlashForward lies. Although it is an ensemble cast, a show like this does still rely heavily on the hero. If nobody liked Jack Shepherd, Lost would never have made it. The central idea of Jack as the hero was essential to the heart of the show at the beginning and worked to maintain a loyal audience. Joseph Fiennes is a very talented actor - he plays the intensity and the strife very well - but something is missing from the character emotionally, and he is not connecting with the audience. He does play the heroic leader - perhaps displayed most prominently in the fall finale scenes in Hong Kong - but as a viewer, I don't find myself rooting for him. This is a problem.

Demitri: For me, John Cho is the most pleasant surprise of this show. I've been consistently impressed with his performances playing what could easily become a melodramatic character. The mystery of his blank flashfoward/death premonition has been an interesting story in itself. I could take or leave Gabrielle Union as his fiance, but I'm greatful for Demitri as Mark's partner - this is when I think Mark is at his best as well. So far, Demitri is the leading man for me.

The FBI Crew: Courtney B. Vance as Wedeck and Christine Woods as Janis are both quite strong and have just enough story to keep me interested. The venture into Wedeck's Washington, DC connections seemed a little out-of-left-field. I was glad they tried to explain why an LA branch of the FBI would be leading the investigation into a massive worldwide incident, but the whole DC story seemed unnecessary. Janis' story is an intriguing distraction from the rest of the FBI business, I'm interested in seeing where it goes. Lastly, I'm still unsure how I feel about Al's suicide. On one hand, it was a good way to challenge the central theme of the show - the question of whether or not you can change the future. But how do we know his suicide won't indirectly cause that woman's death? Also, the rest of the FBI folks haven't stuck to Al's lesson. I liked the idea of showing the extreme of what can happen when people catch a glimpse of their future, but it didn't seem to have as strong of an effect as I'd hoped.

Aaron Stark: I'm sorry, but I'm done with Mark's sponsor. The Afghanistan story is curious, but they better make some sort of connection with the rest of the story because I'm ready to start fastforwarding through his parts. Also, the actress playing his daughter is pretty terrible.

Olivia Benford: I simply can't say a bad word about Sonya Walger, so I won't. I will say that the character of Olivia has become a lot more likable (and believable) in later episodes. When she stopped feeling guilty and started challenging Mark for not trusting her when she's done nothing wrong, I started to like her more. I enjoy both Mark and Olivia better when they're not together. Olivia at the hospital is much more compelling to me, especially now that she's no longer acting freakish about her flashforward. Although, I thought going from avoiding Lloyd at all costs to casually admitting that she doesn't fault him for causing the blackout was pretty unbelievable. It's obvious we'll be seeing more of her involvement with Dylan, which I don't mind.

Bryce Varley: For me, Bryce has the most interesting flashforward story. Everyone else's seems too cause/effect or too related to the incident in itself - if that makes sense. Bryce has the only flashforward that was actually caused by the vision in the first place, which is a really interesting concept. Bryce and Keiko (one of my favorite characters by the way) search and find each other solely because of the vision they both had on October 6th. Because of that, they make decisions they would not normally have made - Keiko moving to LA, Bryce not committing suicide. It's interesting to look at all the other flashforwards from that same perspective - is everyone just unknowingly fulfilling their destiny because seeing this vision was part of their destiny all along? If you make decisions based on the experiences you have every day, what if that vision is just part of your experience? Shaping who you become? Still with me?

Lloyd Simcoe: We now know that Lloyd's physics experimentation may have caused the blackout. He seems like a good guy, but remains a mystery, and I'm sure that's intentional. I'll tell you what, at this point, I wouldn't mind if he stole Mark's girl. One thing I find interesting is his mention of the many-worlds theory- he and Olivia would have met if she had gone to Harvard in 1998 as he did, so according to the many-worlds theory, it did happen in some parallel world. What if the visions during the blackout weren't of the future, but of those other worlds?

Simon Campo: I was as excited as the next Lostie to see Dominic Monahan. So far, Simon has mostly confused me though. I'm looking forward to him working more closely with the FBI crew to solve the mystery. His conceded scientist shtick is actually pretty funny if you can get over the creepiness. I'm sure there's quite a bit more to his character.

As for the mysterious Persian woman in Hong Kong, D. Gibbons, and the blue-handed people, it's all intriguing for sure, but I'm not jumping out of my seat. The fall finale was obviously designed to through a few curveballs, but I didn't find my jaw dropping. Maybe that's because the show is still so new. They need more time to plant the seeds of the story. I just hope they get to it quickly because I don't think FlashForward has strong enough ratings to keep it afloat.

The preview scenes at the end of last week's fall finale told us that FlashForward won't be coming back until March 2010. Probably a good call by ABC, so it won't be competing with the Olympics. I just hope the audience doesn't forget about it. It's unclear whether the April 29th episode will still take place on April 29th as originally planned. I have to say, I am interested to see what they have planned for post-blackout date.

FlashForward will be on my schedule for March 2010 - Demetri, Bryce, and Keiko can be thanked for that.


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