Countdown / Future Shock

And so it ends. Inevitable, really, that the show would finish its first season and entire run on the same night given the inconsistent journey it’s taken us on. I’ve had a fun time with it. I say that with a little hesitancy as the show has really skirted the ‘it’s so bad, it’s good’ territory for much of the year but I kept watching until the end and would have done so for more if it had been kept on for another year. The final two episodes – covering FlashForward day and as it transpires, a new FlashForward (as I’ve been expecting ever since we were told there would be another one) – were an unfortunately great example of this.

We had the hobbit and Demitri trying to stop the FlashForward when you just knew they were going to be helpless as it began. Janis somehow managed to see her FlashForward come to life as the heavily pregnant lady decided to try and help a federal fugitive break into a government research facility where the FlashForward amplification equipment resides. You had Mark Benford going into the FBI building just before his FlashForward where he dies (in the FBI building). It did allow for some frankly awesome gun fighting, although Benford’s Bauer-lite was overshadowed by Wedick’s water-closet takedown! Benford’s slo-mo run (reminded me of Morpheus in the Matrix) was a sight to behold. We saw a quantum physicists’ savant son solving (?) an equation using the Tachyon constant therefore allowing Lloyd to predict the next blackout. And finally, of course, the new FlashForward, seemingly to different points in time and space for different people. It was great fun, brainless entertainment but wholly poor at the same time – the show has taken so many wrong or dumbed down turns this year that it is comparable to Heroes in its second and third seasons whereby rules were broken, fixed, altered and so on meaning the viewer can never truly be surprised or impressed by the narrative given anything goes and rules mean nothing.

This finale did at least tie up much of what we as the audience wanted to know. We saw Olivia and Lloyd properly get together, we saw what happened to Benford (kind of...), we saw Janis and her baby were ok, Keiko and Bryce together, Tracy alive in Afghanistan, we saw Wedick’s bathroom action. It was a proper end to this season’s work which given we won’t be coming back to this world was happily received. Granted, we did see into the future towards 2015 (the end?) and witnessed a teenage Charlie say ‘ they’ve found him’ but these hints to what would have been do not play a part in the overall arc to date.

The show was a victim of its own set-up, I think. ABC saw it as a replacement for Lost and put the money and advertising push behind it as such. The cast was very well known on the whole and the production values were clearly high. The overall budget must have been massive. And it had to over-perform significantly to make it good value for another year. 24 has just been cancelled, despite far superior audiences to this because its budget / viewer ratio wasn’t big enough (when combined with advertising intake). As FlashForward needed to do well it pandered to the common denominator but in anything remotely sci-fi with a sustained narrative rather than one-off episodes, you need to be consistent, interesting and logical. It wasn’t.

I think FlashForward has been a tough show to talk about over the past few episodes. It had one of the most exciting premises I can remember in recent times for a new show and never really even threatened to deliver on those promises. It had the cast (questionable as to whether Shakespeare was the right choice for Benford, mind!) and the budget to make this the show to watch. It stuttered early on and lost the courage of any convictions it may have had – leading to poor decisions, strange narrative choices and an abundance of confusion and lack of direction. But I did enjoy it and I would actually watch a second season given some radical changes. It won’t happen and this is all we have – a shame in the end as this could have been so much more.

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