Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Watch TV.

As usual, there is very little on the new fall TV schedule that looks to be worth my time. (At least, not until some subset of the lineup has been on for a couple of seasons and people adventurous enough to have tuned in at the beginning start telling me that, no, really, shows X, Y and Z are great and I should watch them on DVD. Since that's what usually seems to happen.) But I did catch the premiere of Flashforward, because the premise seemed really, really interesting, although I couldn't quite see how you'd get an entire series out of what seemed to me to be very much a miniseries-sized idea. Having watched it now, though, I can certainly see how it could work, although probably not for more than a season or two, even if the TV time/real time ratio drops below even Lost's. I will say, I wasn't too sure about it at the beginning; for quite a while I felt I was being introduced to too many characters to keep straight and given too few reasons to really care about any of them. This, however, is kind of inevitable in any show with a large cast and a complicated storyline, and by the end of the episode I was beginning to be able to keep them all straight. Bottom line, it's definitely intriguing enough that I'll keep watching, at least for now.


  1. That, really, was my one problem with it: I didn't care about the characters. It's very well cast, and I don't think any of that is the actors' fault; it just bullets ahead way too quickly for any of it to really resonate.

    It's definitely interesting, though. I think it took the best element of Sawyer's otherwise so-so book, that incredible hook of a premise, and made some interesting changes to it. (Most interesting? That the flash was only 6 months, not several decades ahead. Does this mean, if the show is canceled, they'll still be able to wrap up by mid-season?) I didn't love the episode, but I thought there were some phenomenal elements and plenty of potential. I'll at least watch another episode.

  2. Yeah, that was definitely its biggest problem, but I don't think it's necessarily a bad sign for the rest of the show. I had exactly the same "too many characters, too little investment in any of them" reaction to the first episode of Heroes, and that turned out to be awesome. Well, y'know, until it wasn't.

    I haven't read the book; I'd kind of intended to get around to it before the series started and never quite did. Which I'm not sure is a great loss, as I tend to have seriously mixed feelings about Sawyer's stuff, anyway. I was surprised by the six-months thing, too, though, so I'm sure I must've read a longer figure in a description of the book somewhere.

    I'm just curious as to whether they're intending to stretch that six months out over years, assuming the show succeeds, or what.

    Anyway, I'll give it at least a few eps. I'm interested enough that I will probably keep watching unless it does something to put me off.


    In the book, the flash is several decades forward, and there's some debate but no real mystery about what caused it to happen. (It was an experiment at the LHC, where most of the novel takes place.) Certainly there is not, as in the pilot, a shadowy group (or person) that seems to be responsible or at least unaffected. It's possible that show-time will be slowed down and that six months will be spread out over the course of the series. That's sort of what Lost has done: the first few seasons on the island actually only represent several months in the characters' lives. However, the pilot episode of FlashForward did take place in a single day, beginning to end, so I wonder. I think I'd be more interested if they've figured some things out, changed some things or failed to change others, six months from now, and the show followed more or less real time.

    They've certainly left open the possibility of another flash forward happening again in six months.

    Ultimately, I thought the change allowed for some interesting twists -- like the impending mystery element -- while making some things seem a little less believable -- like Olivia already being in love with somebody new in just a few months. And in the book, because the flash goes forward several decades, there are kids who've seen themselves as adults. That's an interesting twist that I think gets dropped altogether here.

    The show borrowed a character name and concept, but I don't think anything else from the book. I read it a couple of months ago in anticipation of the series, but I almost wish I hadn't. It's an okay book -- likable enough characters, a great idea, if ultimately unsatisfying -- but I think it might have been nice to go into the show completely cold, not knowing even the basic premise.

  4. I think a flashforward of several decades would be interesting in all kinds of ways that a six-month one isn't, but I also think that the mystery elements and a shorter timeframe are exactly the things that seem likely to really make this work as a series, as opposed to a novel.

    I do see the potential for the six-month time frame being handled badly, though, either by stretching those six months out way too long, or answering the big questions and then not having anywhere nearly as interesting to go afterward. But I'm certainly willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and see where it goes. And I didn't even necessarily think the thing with Olivia and the other man was entirely unbelievable, either. People can change a lot in six months, if they're the right six months. Again, it'll all depend on execution.

    Anyway, it sounds like I'm just as well off not having read the book, which is nice to know. Although, honestly, it seems to me that the concept is the only really important element here, anyway. :) I will say that I actually am glad I went in knowing the general premise, as the whole thing went by so very, very fast that I think I might have felt annoyingly confused if I had no external knowledge to help me understand what was going on and why I might want to care.

  5. I've just found out that the show is premiering in the UK on Monday on one of the "terrestrial" free channels (as opposed to a satelite and/or subscription channel). So I'll be able to watch it and see what I think. I'm pleasantly surprised that we are getting it so quickly.

    The previewer in my newspaper TV guide echoed your "for quite a while I felt I was being introduced to too many characters to keep straight".

  6. Wow, that is a pretty rapid transit of the Pond!

    I'll be interested to hear what you think when you've seen it. :)

  7. I've now seen it. I was quite impressed.

    One thing that rather annoyed me, but I suppose it was inevitable, was that even by the end of this pilot episode it was almost as though all that carnage and destruction had never happened. For instance the characters seem to have no problems in getting from one place to another, whereas it would have taken at least several days to get the streets cleared of crashed vehicles. And our heroine's hospital seems to be carrying on as normal, with no hint that there would be hundreds if not thousands of other accident victimes for them to try to cope with in addition to the one that they've been focussing on.

    But that's a quibble, really. I think that the premise is intriguing enough to make it compulsive viewing. I'm half expecting that in the next episode the Doctor will put in an appearance; there's something rather Whovian about the show, if a single Who story could be stretched out to umpteen episodes. :)

  8. It's a reasonable quibble. I'd say it's probably yet another consequence of cramming so much into one episode.

    And, heh, you could certainly get a Who episode out of this concept. Probably one by Steven Moffat. :)