Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I'm not convinced.

They were trailing this show almost incessantly while I was in America. It's clearly a big deal for the network. Presumably it didn't impress the British so much, since it's ended up on Five. And I can see why. Sure, it's got a fun high concept - whole human race blacks out, has flash forward to next April, wakes up again. And it's got a decent cast. But it feels like a show which is too in love with its puzzle-box premise to actually work as a drama.

By which I mean: first, it's the sort of show where people spend a lot of time explaining the plot to one another - usually in such time-honoured contexts as "It sounds crazy, but..." or "Wait a minute, are you saying...?" Which is a bit cringeworthy.

And it doesn't seem to think it can leave anything unsaid. So one character is asked how he feels about the news of his daughter's apparent survival, and responds with a detailed shopping list of emotions which he is currently experiencing - all of which might have been somewhat interesting, if we'd been left to work it out for ourselves, but the show evidently doesn't credit us with that much intelligence.

Which means we're left with the puzzle - but that hinges on us having faith that the show is clever enough to pull it off, and I didn't think it was. The characters take forever to get around to fairly obvious observations. A conveniently large number of people seem to have implausibly spent their flashforward memorising the date, because the plot demands that this should be verifiable afterwards. An FBI agent brings in a captured terrorist and, more or less, tells her wait nicely in reception because somebody will be along shortly. It's not a well-written show.

And if it was a smart show - even on the level of its own premise - surely somebody in the course of the first episode would have made the obvious point: given that everyone now knows when the flashforward takes place, if it's the actual future, it surely won't be full of people calmly going about their regular business. Did nobody find themselves at a flashforward party, or see themselves surrounded by big hand-painted signs telling them next week's lottery numbers? If not, then either it's not the actual future because the flashforward event has altered it, or it is the actual future and the show isn't very well written. And since the structure of the show seems to hinge on "how do we get there from here", something tells me I'm not going to be overly impressed by the answer...