Saturday, April 17, 2010

Flashforward Burnout

I'm in the middle of watching Thursday's episode of Flashforward, and it suddenly hit me that I just don't really care about any of it any more. It's a pity... The show has a nifty premise and a decent cast, and if none of the characters ever grabbed me, I was at least interested enough in how the plot was going to play out to keep watching until now, but at this point it's just losing me. Maybe it's that it seems to keep spinning its wheels faster and faster but never really getting much of anywhere. Maybe it's that last week's episode far exceeded my tolerance for improbable plot twists. Maybe it's because the current Major Plot Point seems to me to involve some unforgivably sloppy writing. Whatever. I hate to leave a story without finding out the ending -- it's one reason I never abandon books in the middle, even when they suck. But I'm thinking maybe it's time to reclaim that hour from my week.


  1. I think that the episode you've just watched is the one that I'll be seeing on Monday, assuming that after the mid-season break they've kept the same US-UK delay. So I'll be interested to see whether I feel the same way as you after I've watched it. Even with last Monday's episode, I was starting to feel a little bit like that. I know that it's traditional in such shows that some of the people initially presented as baddies have to turn out to be goodies and vice versa, but Flashforward seems to be taking it to extremes, and the latest instance really didn't appear to make any sense. As for the characters, one or two have grabbed me, especially the young Japanese woman. I think she's lovely. (Maybe there's something about Japanese women, as I really liked Tosh in Torchwood.)

  2. I think I reached that burnout point much, much earlier. The show is trying very hard to be the next Lost, but keeps missing the fact that Lost is built first and foremost on its characters.

  3. JH: I think it was actually more last week's episode than this week's that may have really done it. It's the little things that snap my suspension of disbelief. Everybody seeing the future at once for two-and-a-fraction minutes? Sure, why not! Sounds cool! But you're right, the thing you're referring to didn't make any sense. And there are aspects of the way they went about it that I think are just really bad storytelling. (I'd rant more, but it'd be spoilery, so I'll spare you.) And this latest episode wasn't bad in any way, really. It wasn't good in any way, either. It wasn't anything. It was just more of the same people walking around being worried about the same things they've been worrying about all season. It was dull. I turned it off 20 minutes in.

    Keiko is a fun character, I think, and possibly has more personality than any of them, but she's hardly worth watching for by herself. (For what it's worth I, um, may admit to a certain fondness for good-looking Asian guys, myself. Demetri Noh is the one main character I really still have any interest in, and it's not because the show is making him interesting (although it's given him a storyline that certainly should be interesting). It's because I can't help liking John Cho.)

    Fred: I do really like TV shows with this kind of structure when they're done well, but it's not the easiest thing in the world to juggle that kind of plotting with characterization and good pacing and everything else. I should have known it was a bad sign when, half a season in, I was still having trouble remembering a lot of the characters' names.

    The sad thing is, I don't actually think they're missing the fact that characters are important. They've certainly built a lot of character-based stuff into the plot: storylines about alcoholism and adultery and parent-child relationships, and so on. What they didn't do is to make full-fledged, interesting characters for these things to happen to. I don't think it's because they forgot. I think they thought they were doing it and underestimated what it took.

  4. last week's episode far exceeded my tolerance for improbable plot twists
    Wow. Considering how good you are at suspending disbelief, that must have been an amazingly terrible episode.

  5. The thing about suspending disbelief for a show like this is that it gets one big thing for free, and quite a lot of little things that hang off the big thing. But, having required that much of the viewer, it had damned well better not push too far in other areas, or eventually there's nothing left to suspend one's disbelief from -- the supports in the ceiling are weakened, so to speak, and the whole carefully suspended structure is in danger of crashing messily to the floor.

    Those of us who are good at suspension of disbelief know what its engineering tolerances are. :)