Flash Forward 1×01-5: “What did you see?”   

Case of FLASH FORWARD on ABC: JACK DAVENPORT, PEYTON LIST, SONYA WALGER, ZACHARY KNIGHTON, JOSEPH FIENNES, JOHN CHO, COURTNEY B. VANCE, BRIAN O'BYRNE, CHRISTINE WOODS (ABC/BOB D'AMICO)Flash Forward, I want to like you. It’s important that you know that. Because tonight may be the night. If you don’t give me a real reason to stick around tonight, it may be time to relegate you to online viewing only. Sometimes that works out for a show. Right, Grey’s? Sometimes? Well, poor Fringe has had two episodes languishing in my Hulu queue for weeks.

And now the Flash Forward fans hate me. Kidding, of course, but you may not want to read any further. I’m about to get into the two things about the show that bother me the most and there isn’t going to be a whole lot of positive to balance things out.

I don’t care about the characters. This is partly due to the casting of certain roles. Namely Joseph Fiennes as Mark. My having read the pilot script long before he was cast probably plays a huge role in my opinion here. He was not who I imagined in the role.

Joseph Fiennes plays Mark Benford on FLASH FORWARD on ABC.The Mark in my head was more of a presence. Fiennes plays him a little too close to the chest. It’s hard to get a read on what Mark is feeling unless he’s feeding his emotions to us with the dialogue. Take, for example, the scene(s) in the pilot when he’s reading Olivia’s notes. Because I had read the script, I knew the notes were a joke between this married couple. We don’t know the story behind them but we see from Mark’s reaction that it’s actually the way they show their love for each other. But I didn’t get that from Fiennes in the scene and, based on the confused reaction from the friend watching it with me, I wasn’t the only one.

I’ve tried to let go of my expectations and like Fiennes’ Mark. It’s not working. The only time I actually care what’s going on with him is when he’s interacting with his daughter. Not really a good thing considering he’s one of the central characters on the show.

As for the other characters, well, I don’t necessarily dislike the people playing them. I just don’t think the show has done much to give me a reason to care about any of them. With the exception of John Cho’s Demetri. He has quickly become one of my favorite characters. Possibly because he has a smaller story within the overall show that’s actually had some movement forward.

I know we all went into this show with the knowledge that it’s going to be serialized. That it’s not a week to week type of show. Except, there’s no reason there can’t be smaller week to week stories built into the show. A way for us to connect with these characters. A reason to care about them and what’s happening to them. Which leads me to the larger issue I think the show has…

The aftermath of the plane crashing in the LOST pilot on ABC.How many of us can relate to a global blackout? You know why the premise of Lost worked so well? Because almost every one of us has been on a plane and/or imagined what it’d be like if the plane crashed. And, if you hadn’t ever imagined that, I bet you have imagined what it’d be like to get stranded on a desert island. Right? One of the most popular memes, Internet or no Internet, is, “What’s the one _______ you’d want with you if you were stranded on a desert island?” So when you put a bunch of characters in a plane and have them crash land on a desert island, we instantly have a connection to them. While that aspect of the show may have fallen by the wayside many seasons ago, it still gave us a reason to care about these characters from the second we met them.

Flash Forward didn’t have the same advantage. A global blackout is intriguing and of course we want to know what, how, and why but, unfortunately, we don’t have an instant recognition of what these characters are going through. And the show has done very little to give us any more insight than what we initially saw in the pilot. The few times it has are when I can feel my original interest in the show returning.

An example of the desctruction that happened during the global blackout on FLASH FORWARD on ABC.There have to be lots of little stories that we can relate to, right? Like the bus going into the lake. There’s something I can grasp. The horror of waking up to find yourself in a bus under water? That freaks me the hell out and I guarantee I’ll instantly bond with any character in that situation. Hence why I loved the opening scene in last week’s episode. Or the scene on the empty plane with Demetri’s financĂ©e. That underscored how freaked out people are by the idea of flying again so soon after the blackout. We need a lot more of that.

I know it’d be too expensive to show us global destruction. But is it too much to see how it’s affecting the local community? I feel like everything went back to “normal” too quickly. Wouldn’t there be a larger sense of panic in the world? Everyone blacked out and no one knows why. Why isn’t the news media spinning ridiculous theories while they watch a balloon floating through the clouds? That’s how we react these days. Instead we’ve got people casually asking, “What did you see?” It just doesn’t feel real. And they haven’t done much to prove me wrong. You know why I was bored by last week’s episode? Because there was no sense of urgency, no panic, no emotion in those Washington scenes. Seriously? The entire world blacked out for two minutes and this is the type of meeting that happens in Washington? There’s no suspicion that it’s some kind of terrorist act? No worry that it’s some kind of omen? The whole atmosphere rang false and I quickly lost interest as a result.

Obviously we’re not going to get any significant answers about the blackout any time soon. Hints, perhaps, but actual answers? Surely they plan to drag those out for a decent amount of time so that the show has some life to it. I get that. But that means you have to give me something else to care about. I’m not going to spend two seasons obsessed about a mystery. I need another source of nutrition while you’re slowly doling out the clues.

I know I’m being harsh. And I know a good number of people are enjoying the show. I get it. I just don’t get it. Trust me, I wish I did. Guess we’ll see if tonight’s episode does anything to change my mind.

4 Responses to “Flash Forward 1×01-5: “What did you see?””

  1. 1
    Stephanie P. says:

    I agree with everything you said! All the problems you mentioned are the same things that have been bothering me. I did think tonight’s episode was an improvement over last week, but my decision to watch Flash Forward will continue to be a week to week thing unless there is some major improvement soon.

  2. 2
    Just Jody says:

    I’ve been enjoying it, but my enjoyment has also been decreasing with each episode. I don’t have any issues with not being able to relate to a global blackout. A decade ago I wouldn’t have been able to relate to the the type of tragedy we faced with 9/11. Because none of us could ever really imagine that happening and what the repercussions would be. So I think the global blackout is kind of the same type of thing.

    But, I do agree completely that they haven’t given us much to care about with the characters. And that Fiennes is really blah.

    I did enjoy last night’s ep quite a bit more than the past 2 though. What did you think?

  3. 3
    Harper47 says:

    I’ve already stopped watching and I thought this would be a show I would adore. But my problem is your first problem. I don’t care about any of the characters. There is simply no one I am invested in or care what happens to them. And since I missed the bus episode – which does sound really intriguing – I have to say the only reason I would have been interested in that episode is if it was someone other than the characters introduced in the first episode that were on the bus.

    This one is just not going to be for me. Maybe somewhere down the line if it gets better, I’ll rent the DVDs.

  4. 4
    Karen says:

    I so so agree with you. While Fiennes is cute; he is a sorry actor. Period. I tried watching this show for the first four episodes, and I started to find it boring. I checked the most recent episode — no change.