Monday, October 5, 2009

FlashForward - "White to Play"

Hello folks.  So, like Lost, I'm going to offer some thoughts on ABC's new show FlashForward.  Like our favorite island adventure, FF seems like it will offer a dramatic sci-fi vibe with nuggets of mystery that fans can really dig into.  Only two episodes in, I think the show still has to find its groove (the production was given to a new producer/show-runner after its pilot was picked up), but it contains the basics of what could be a really great serial.

  *This week's episode of FlashForward began with a very odd and very creepy start.  The zoom in on the Earth with children singing Ring Around the Rosy (Rosey? Rosie?) reminded me of the "1, 2, Freddy's coming for you" song from A Nightmare on Elm Street.  Very unsettling.  I guess they're trying to remind us that the entire world experienced the blackout (the term I will be using for the event) but it just seemed odd to me.  And seeing a bunch of children laying "dead" on the playground was disturbing.  I mean, I guess it was supposed to be disturbing; it was just unexpected.

*There are some really great actors on this show.  Brian F. O'Byrne (Brian's AA sponsor, Aaron), Sonya Walger (Olivia) Jack Davenport (Lloyd Simcoe, Olivia's supposed future lover) and John Cho (Demetri) are doing some really great work.  Kind of odd that three of these actors are British, although that must be just a coincidence.  The show is worth watching just for these four actors.  Then, on the other hand, we have Joseph Fiennes (another Brit).  Now, normally, I love him as an actor.  He was great in Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth, and other movies.  For some reason though, in this show, he seems off his game.  His understated delivery is fine, there's just something off.  As I mentioned in my fall TV review post, it could be that he is uncomfortable working in an American accent.  If so, I can only hope that he'll become more comfortable as the episodes progress.

*Fellow FBI agent, Janis Hawk(!), seems to be FF's answer to 24's Chloe O'Brien, insofar as she is the tech geek of the office.  But here, she serves another purpose: Super Exposition Girl!  I mean, my God, the amount of story-forwarding information she spits out in one breath is rather impressive.  Obviously, this is only episode two, so there is bound to be a lot of exposition, but I hope they slow it down.  Show us what happened/is happening; don't tell us.  Showing us, as opposed to being dictated to us, allows for a deeper connection with the characters and their situations.  A couple other things on Janis: what's the deal with Janis' tattoo of three circles on her right forearm?  Any deeper meaning to them (other than the show trying to make her seem "hard" so she can have a transformation when she has her child), or just because the actress, Christine Woods, has them?  How will she become pregnant?  I mean, I know how she'll become pregnant, but under what circumstances.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the child will be Demetri's.  Probably totally off here, but I have an inkling.

*I loved Olivia laughing, despite herself, to Lloyd's "Good luck with the procedure," line regarding Charlie's stuffed animal.  She clearly found Lloyd charming, but is obviously scared about her flash coming true.  More great acting by Sonya Walger.

*The great guys over at Jay and Jack, who produce the best Lost podcast on the net (named, oddly enough, The Lost Podcast with Jay and Jack, check iTunes), are producing a weekly podcast about FF called the FlashForwardcast with Jay and Jack (check iTunes).  Anyway, on their first episode, Jack mentioned that he was concerned about a lack of comedy during the pilot.  I couldn't concur more.  Lost expertly uses the character of Hurley to lighten the drama and provide an audience's perspective to the show.  I was concerned that FF wouldn't follow suit and just beat us over the head with the drama.  Fortunately, in episode two, the humor was brought, namely in the person of the head of the Los Angeles FBI office, Stanford Wedeck, played by Courtney B. Vance.  We got riffs on cupcakes ("I'm going to log these into evidence.") and Wedeck waking up from his flash on the toilet and having to give mouth-to-mouth to a fwllow agent drowning in a urinal.  We also had Demetri's joke about his last name, Noh, "It's Korean."  Funny stuff, but a whole lot of it.  In fact, they may have gone from 0 to 60 in two seconds, so I hope they find a happy medium.  I know, I know -- there is no satisfying me.

*I hope the show stops calling the flashes "flash forwards" in their entirety.  Just call them "flashes," which is what I'll be doing here.  I mean, I understand the idea of getting the title of the show stuck in the viewers' heads, but you never heard Ross and Rachel saying how they were all friends, or Norm and Cliff yelling, "Cheers!" with every pint of beer.

*Another script thing: there seems to be a lot of (for lack of a better term) "A-Ha!'ing" going on. This phenomenon occurs when one character is verbally reasoning out a problem, and then another character completes the end of the sequence with a tone that says, "A-ha! I now understand the entire problem!" even when the issue at hand is not of the greatest importance.  Case in point in this episode was the discussion about pigeons and Pigeon, UT.  Janis, Demetri and Wedeck are bandying about the significance of Dee Dee Gibbons' flash discussing pigeons and Utah.  Then, Mark says, looking intense with thought, "Pigeon's not a's a place!"  A-Ha!  I hate stuff like this; it's kind of lazy writing (shout-out to Jay and Jack!), but it's mostly the acting.  Joey Fiennes, shape it up!

*The Pigeon, UT scene: Thought this whole scene was pretty great.  As soon as the sherrif said she had a blank flash, I knew she was dead.  Specifically so we could have Demetri worry about whether he will die or not.  If Demetri dies on this show, I will be absolutely shocked.  I know Lost has killed off main characters, but the biggest mainstream star FF has is John Cho.  He's the key to the 18-25 year old bracket.  He's not going anywhere.  Anyway, I thought the technical aspects of the scene (and the show, in general) were pretty great.  Although, would they really take a helicopter to Pigeon, UT from L.A.?  Pigeon is approximately 750 miles from L.A., and even a military helicopter can only fly between 200 and 300 miles per hour.  You're telling me a local FBI office would fly about three hours via helicopter into the heart of the Rocky Mountains?  I don't think so.  As far as D. Gibbons is concerned, well, he remained shrouded, literally, in mystery.  His quote, "He who foresees calamity suffers them twice over," sounded deep, but really wasn't.  Yes, if you see your future, you can be traumatized by knowing the situation is coming, and then traumatized again when you actually live it.  FF obviously wants us to find him mysterious, so mission accomplished.  The idea that he is just looking for an explanation for the blackout (I forget which character suggested this. Janis?) seems way off.  Why would he destroy everything then?  Doesn't make sense.  I think he must be in cahoots with Suspect Zero in bringing about the blackout. 

*Speaking of Suspect Zero, is this really the name they are going to give him?  I assume, from Janis' calculations that Zero is 5'8" and 150 lbs, that this has to be Simon, the character played by Dominic Monaghan.  Dominic played Merry the Hobbit in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so he is clearly short enough to fit the description of Zero.  Plus, in at least one of the commercials promoting FF before the season started, we saw Simon ask if whomever he was speaking ot wanted to know why the blackout happened.  Sounds Zero-ish to me!  I just hope it is Simon so we don't have to keep calling the man in Tigers Stadium, Suspect Zero.  I know it's now Comerica Park, but the show didn't use that name either for the stadium.

Quick Hits:

*Mark and Olivia's daughter is named Charlie, which is funny because Sonya Walger's son on Lost, is named Charlie, named after Dominic Monaghan's character.

*In the title sequence for the show, there was a quick flash of the chess piece Demetri later found at the doll factory.  I have to check the next episode to see if a similar flash occurs.  Whether or not they are easter eggs that lead to solving the mystery (above and beyond their importance to the characters),we will have to wait and see.

*When Charlie first gave it to him, I figured that wasn't the bracelet Mark later puts up on his office cork board.  It will be interesting to see how he gets the new one.

*My wife is a ballerina, so I know all about bunions, and Sonya Walger has some bad ones.  Was she a dancer?

*Beware the ides of March, Demetri!  A bit too on the nose, don't you think?  Glad to see Shohreh Aghdashloo has corrected her respiratory problems though.

And now for a new feature.  Like Jack (from Jay and Jack) has a Crackpot Theory of the Week for his Lost and FF podcasts, I will be offering up a prediction of sorts each week.  Something just to see if my deductive reasoning about the show's mythology and my understanding of television in general can lead me to the answers we are seeking on the show.  So, here is the one for this week:

Prediction: D. Gibbons will kidnap Charlie and Llyod Simcoe's son.  That's how the kids know each other in the future.

That's all I have for "White to Play" (BTW, I still have no idea what that means).  On Wednesday I will offer up some questions and thoughts leading into the next episode on Thursday night.  If you have any quesitons or comments, please leave them in the Comments section.  Until Wednesday...

I'm off to log in some cupcakes.

1 comment:

  1. Appreciate your blog, as I am interested in this show as well. I hope it holds my attention unlike Lost. Some comments:

    * I too think that Joe Fiennes looks a little lost and out of synch. Maybe it is the adjustment to an American accent. Something else that really bothers me is how ill-fitting his white shirts are. They are too loose around the neck, and contribute to him looking like a little boy in an adult role.

    * I live not too far away from Pigeon, UT and I still had to look it up on the map. The real Pigeon UT has no city organization, no population, and no roads. In fact, I can't figure out how it was established since its just a point on the map. Easy to get to, though, it is in the middle of the Bonneville Salt Flats. You can drive forever on those flat salt beds.

    -Katy Lied


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