Sunday, November 01, 2009

The problem (so far) with Flash Forward

A couple of my friends recommended Flash Forward to me, and as I watched its second episode today (yay for on-demand TV!), I realized why Flash Forward had bugged me so far (the two episodes I've watched, that is). (Remember this is a strictly provisional opinion subject to change any time as I watch more.) So why am I not impressed?

(1) The almost complete absence of any danger:
So imagine this. For approximately two minutes, everyone in the world experiences a black-out for two minutes. Yes, they all become unconscious -- and if the series is to be believed, this leads to a spectacular disaster, on an unimagined scale. Airplanes crashing into buildings, cars running over people and crashing into buildings; the possibilities are endless. And yet, I get no sense from the series that anything serious has happened -- there's no destruction and everything seems to be right on track. WTF? Don't you remember the days after 9/11? Hell, I do, and I was in India and not even in the US -- it was probably what one could euphemistically call a very tense time. And this is a 100, a 1000 times worse -- and still nothing seems to have happened!

Which is why the investigation to find out how and why the flash forward happens (led by Joseph Fiennnes' character) seems to have no force at all. Why should we care really? Another flash forward happening would be just fine, it seems to me. And everyone can have even more cuddly little visions about their own future: what's not to like?

The super-success of Lost has brought on many Lost-like clones and Flash Forward is clearly one of them -- a wacky, vaguely sci-fi concept with a nice stereotypical array of characters. But if I remember anything from the beginning of Lost (the first few episodes of the first season are all I have seen of it), it's that there's a vivid sense of danger there: what's on the island? why are these people here? What's going to happen? I get no such feeling in Flash Forward -- but maybe that will change.

(2) And oh yes, the metaphysical bullshit: I mean, yes, it's fun to see the future, etc. and think what that means. Do we have free will or not? Are we in charge of our futures or are our futures in charge of us? But it's all bullshit (and absurdly pretentious) if I don't have a concrete sense of the stakes involved (see point (1) above, about Danger, lack of)

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