What Did You Think of the Series Premiere of FlashForward?

So, what did you think of the Series Premiere of FlashForward?

Overall, I liked it and will watch more. I have not read the Robert J. Sawyer book on which it was based, so I’m coming into this cold. (Perhaps for the better of my viewing enjoyment.)

Here are my thoughts after a scant one episode…


THE GOOD

  • The show’s biggest hook was the mystery surrounding the Flash Forward event. What caused them? What’s so special about April 20th 2010? Who was the mystery man in the video?
  • Like the Robert J. Sawyer books I have read, the show posed some interesting “what if?” questions: What if people could see their future? (The impact so far seems emotional.) What if humanity shared the same experience? (It would bring them closer together.) What if you knew your (possible?) fate?
  • The characters seem interesting so far.
  • Some nice special effects and stunts. Very post-apocalyptic. Aw yeah.

THE QUESTIONABLE

  • Admittedly it’s only been one episode, but I have yet to see anybody ask an obvious question: Is the future predetermined? Seems easy to test, but I suspect it isn’t written in stone, otherwise everyone who saw themselves alive would be unable to die. In which case people could stop worrying about the future and start proactively taking steps to avoid any unwanted fate.
  • The show is currently focused on the U.S.-based FBI characters as the major authority. Wouldn’t there be a more global response team? And maybe, oh I dunno, some scientist types? I’m sure — I hope! — this is an artifact of it just being the first episode; there’s only so much you can stuff into the first hour.

THE UNKNOWN

  • The clues being flashed on the screen are numerous, which means much of the show is already mapped out, or predetermined, if you will. This is a good thing. However, this reduces the storytelling to piecemeal delivery toward the final goal that lies six months down the road. The pacing had better be right. If interest isn’t held up every single week, that’s gonna feel like too long a wait. It’ll be interesting to see how long the show can maintain the same immersion level as the premiere.
  • Though the characters seem interesting at first blush, they were under-drawn. This is completely understandable given the number introduced in the first 60 minutes. The trick will be to keep them interesting while the mystery culminates over the next 6 months. We’ll see.

That’s my 2 pennies jumping-the-gun. So what did you think?

14 thoughts on “What Did You Think of the Series Premiere of FlashForward?”

  1. I like the premise but the first episode just didn’t grab me.  Before it was over I’d begun reading a book and turned it off.

    The commercial for V looked promising though.  I have high hopes for it.

  2. I really enjoyed it. I even watched it again last night with my wife knowing she would get addicted to it also. I have to read the book now to see how close to the original story the show stays.

  3. Actually, iirc, the kitchen scene between the main character and his aa sponsor started to touch on the predetermined future question. The main character saw himself drinking, the sponsor responded along the lines “so don’t drink. just because you saw it, doesn’t mean it has to happen.”

  4. I’ve read the book and had a somewhat meh reaction.  I didn’t watch the show.  If it survives with good buzz, I’ll be willing to pick up the DVD of the first season next time I deploy to watch then (that’s the only time I have for DVD watching).  I don’t think it’ll make it though.

    I don’t think this kind of thing is for American TV.  Maybe British TV with short season and a complete willingness to alter the show/characters when needed, and to end the show when the story ends despite good rating (unlike the X Files).  OTOH Lost has surprised me with its survival.  I have since concluded that it is a fantasy and I’m not interested but I never expected to get a seson season much less eventually go out on top.

  5.  

    My two thoughts were:

    1) I don’t see how they sustain suspense without dragging it out far too long. As SF Fangirl sort of says above, this is the sort of thing that needs one or two 13-episode seasons and then it’s done. The pacing may do me in.

    2) The pilot had a fair amount of soap opera in it and there’s lots of room to add more. I have no interest in the soap opera elements. The soap opera is even more likely than the pacing to do me in.

  6. “The show is currently focused on the U.S.-based FBI characters as the major authority. Wouldn’t there be a more global response team? And maybe, oh I dunno, some scientist types? I’m sure — I hope! — this is an artifact of it just being the first episode; there’s only so much you can stuff into the first hour.”

    I wasn’t paying rapt attention — though enough that I’ll try to remember to catch the next episode — but didn’t the first episode take place only over a single day or two?  Hardly time to organize a global response team from scratch.  It would surely take weeks, at the least, to ad hoc anything more than the usual intelligence alliances, and I don’t think the nations of the world would suddenly cease to have nationalistic interests in just weeks.  If at all, given a one-time event, no matter how bizarre.

  7. Agreed.  Hence the disclaimers about being only the first epsiode.  But if I didn’t jump the gun on judgment, I wouldn’t be a blogger.  Hiyo! :)

  8. I wanted to like it, but didn’t much. The premise is intriguing, the cast capable and appealing, but the writing seemed sluggish, somber, over-familiar. I’m not sure why the FBI became the default investigators of everything, but putting them at the center of this story made it sort of a cop show… and there are already enough of those on the air. The promo for next week intoned portentously that “more SECRETS will be revealed…”, which made me roll my eyes a bit. It seemed like they’re too obviously trying to set up the feverish interest that surrounds (or surrounded) serials like “Lost” or “Heroes”.

  9. I hope the show does well. I met FlashForward’s creator in person on more then several occasions. I’d rather have seen FlashForward turned into a feature film instead of a TV series though.

  10. Robert Sawyer is one of the absolute worst so-called “science fiction” authors out there. His writing is abysmal–it even makes many pulp hacks of the so-called “Golden Age” of sci-fi look good–and every subject dealt with in his books has been handled in much better fashion by somebody (anybody) else.

    However, that said, Flashforward–the novel–at least had a rather interesting premise (which was handled a million times better in Robert Charles Wilson’s The Chronoliths, but I digress). I just watched the television show and was quite surprised by how well the concept was adapted for the basis of a television serial. This show has some potential…but it will need writers with much better skill than Sawyer himself to keep it going–and, as a serial of indeterminate length, it really needs to be careful to avoid the endless mystery-upon-mystery decimal expansion of Lost, which literally became unwatchable after the second season.

    I thought The 4400 did an excellent job of handling its episodic nature: each season satisfactorily unfolded one layer of the mystery, while reserving others for subsequent seasons. Unfortunately, the series got axed before it could really get in-depth, but I thought it a good model in general for sci-fi/suspense programs that do not have a pre-determined, set-in-stone story arc of x numbers of seasons or episodes. Flashforward needs to handle its mysteries in such a fashion not only to hold viewers’ interest but to keep itself from getting all tangled up in itself–which could happen all too easily, considering that most television screenwriters have about as good a grasp of this material (“time travel,” causality and retrocausality, etc.) as your average eight-year-old.

  11. I think Derek has an axe to grind, so that really reduced the weight I’ve given his comment. Actually, come to think of some of his comments on boingboing, he really hates a lot of writers. Really hates. And most of them seem to be award-winning, so I think I value the vast majority over angry Derek’s comments.

    Anyway . . .

    I think the TV show played to the strengths and abilities of the medium, while the same can be said of the novel. I think they were both wonderful and are both well worth experiencing in their respective forms. I, for one, can’t wait until next week. :D

  12. I liked it. More importantly, my wife liked it. She is much harder to please. :)

    I am an RJS fan and read the book. I was impressed with how much of the book they crammed into just the first episode.

    (***Possible book spoilers follow.***)

    There were deviations. Having the FBI as the focus, (with the accompanying and implicit “whodunnit?”) was a small letdown as it introduces the “suspicion-of-authority” (SOA) element. (Kudos to David Brin for that term.) The “Authorities,” in general, had a very small role in the book. In fact, in the book, the “whodunnit” question is really answered plainly from page 1. It’s the “whys” and “hows” that are dealt with more in the book. And, of course, the plot-driving question of whether the future is fixed was primary in the book and looks to be headed that way in the TV show.

    The other deviation was the man in black at the end. I had a harder time with this one since the introduction of video recordings themselves was a deviation from the book. (I really liked the way RJS handled the video recording question in the book. It was one of my favorite details.) And the very presence of the man in black (as well as the previews for upcoming episodes) tells me that the SOA angle is going to be a main focus.

    Both of these deviations are completely understandable in the contexts of making the story appealing to a wider TV audience. All in all, I think they are adapting the general concepts very well so far. I’m excited to see where the series is headed. My hope is for equal parts “whodunnit” and “can we change the future”! :)

  13. Haven’t read the book, but thought the first episode was surprisingly good. It seemed like actual science fiction written by someone who knew science fiction, unlike a lot of TV/movie sf that seems like it was created by ignorant Hollywood types cynically cashing in on a trend they don’t really understand.

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