Few series had so much potential of filling the Lost-sized void that would soon fill ABC’s primetime lineup. It had an entirely intriguing premise. The science fiction was plausible enough. The characters were, well, good enough. It promised to give us that sci fi/drama fix so many of us seem to crave. And it was named after a plot device made famous by Lost. But, despite its season twin V (which, I would argue, is inferior) being renewed, Flashforward has been cancelled. Where did this promising show lose its way?

Most of the show’s fans would tell you that most of the trouble started after the winter break. It was as if an entirely new regime stepped in and screwed everything up. We’ve broken the show down into its 5 biggest mistakes, the moves that cost it its second season:

janis hawk, demetri noh, flashforward1. Janis’ Baby – Why on freaking earth did this kid even become a plot point on this show? Put that question aside and contemplate how idiotic it was for the producers to make the father Demetri, who was in a happy relationship with his fiancĂ©. One drunken night (not even a severely drunken night), Demetri casually offered to deliver a sperm payload so Janis could conceive on schedule and not via artificial insemination. In the course of one ill-scripted conversation, they turned one of our heroes into an unfaithful dog. He impregnates Janis and then it’s back to the investigation and getting married. I mean, how open-minded did the producers think their audience was? I think they found out the hard way.

olivia benford, lloyd simcoe, flashforward2. Olivia and Lloyd – Okay, so it had to happen because they saw it in the flashback and now that autistic kid was saying it, and this had us wondering how it would happen. Surely, a level-headed woman like Olivia wouldn’t really betray Mark. But she did. In the course of one episode, she kicked Mark out of the house, ran into Lloyd by chance, sat down alone in an apartment with him, knew she should leave but didn’t, and finally ended up making out with him. All in one episode. Our smart, loyal female lead was reduced, in one episode, to a woman governed by passion. With her faithfulness went our sympathy for her.

zoey andata, demetri noh, flashforward3. Lesbians, multiracial couples, and woman doctors, oh my! – Diversity is a good thing. Cramming a show with every politically correct pairing you can possibly think of just comes across as, well, politically correct. Fake. Heavy-handed. Trying too hard. In one office you have an Asian man who is engaged to an African-American public defender, a Lesbian who is trying to conceive, and a white man who is married to a female ER doctor. Then there’s the white doctor who is destined to hook up with a Japanese musician.

4. Too Much Talk – For a show that started with a worldwide catastrophe involving crashing helicopters, massive car wrecks, and millions of people dead, Flashforward has been surprisingly heavy on talk. Most episodes are one dialogue scene after another with one action scene near the end to keep you watching the last ten minutes. You can literally just listen to this show and get 98 percent of what is happening.

mark benford, flashforward5. Grumpy Mark – We sympathized with Mark at the beginning because he was a rehabilitated alcoholic. But even after seeing that he was going to lose his wife and sink back into his addiction, he still just kept being a jerk. He insisted on staying in LA even when he knew it would lead to this. Totally rejecting the usefulness of having a flashforward, he has done everything to make his flashforward come true.You could argue this says something philosophical about determinism versus free will. Whatever. The bottom line is we don’t see Mark Benford as some kind of modern-day Hamlet. We see him as a big idiot, hardly the protagonist we needed to carry the weight of a show this large.

I’m not sorry to see Flashforward go. I am sorry they squandered its promise. They can lay it right next to Heroes in the cemetery for shows that could’ve been but never were.

About the Author: Marcus Varner writes articles and blogs for Classes and Careers and numerous other sites. He earned a BA in English and a MBA in Marketing from Brigham Young University. He loves trivia, especially regarding comics, movies, books, science, and history.

7 comments on “5 Things that Went Wrong with Flashforward

  • It’s not: “5 Things that Went Wrong with Flashforward”

    It’s more likely: “5 Things you didn’t like in Flashforward”

    A show is not made only of things that you like, it also may include bad or not so good things, like in real live we don’t get only the good things neither only all what we like. And people must live with that.

    Just because a show features something a person doesn’t like that’s no reason to talk bad about it.

  • I’m not quite sure what that meant, but I think it is safe to say that we can judge whether a show is worthy of our attention or not. We can judge based on certain criteria. Clearly, based on rating numbers, tv-watchers judged Flashforward to be unworthy of their attention. That is why it has been cancelled. This should be common sense to anyone who remotely understands network television.

    So, honestly, let’s drop this kindergarten approach (i.e. “everyone is a winner,” “as long as you try that’s what matters”) to our entertainment. Some stuff is very good, some stuff starts off good and goes bad, and some stuff is just crappy from start to finish. If stuff is sucky or turns sucky mid-season (ala Flashforward), we have no obligation to keep watching just because “they’re trying.”

    So thanks for your comment, but let’s get real here.

  • I was really waiting for this Serie, when it came out in Mexico, but after the first episode I realize that I could be just like “LOST” too much suspense, and now answers, and I really hate that. So I just saw the 1st episode, and that’s all.

    If they cancell it, it is because of Something.

  • I’m not sure that all of your five “mistakes” cost the show it’s second season as ratings had dropped even prior to the break. And I have to agree with the previous poster, it sounds more like stuff that you didn’t like rather than mistakes.

    I’m not sure of the significance of Janis’ baby but Demetri’s part in it was pretty clear. He was convinced that he was going to die. He saw an opportunity to continue his existence through a child. He saw his long-time friend desperately wanting not just a child, but a specific child that she had seen in her flashforward and she was convinced that she had to conceive it that weekend. Even if those are convincing enough arguments, Demetri and Janis were drunk, a state-of-mind that causes lots of people to do stupid things without even half of the good intentions they had.

    Lloyd and Olivia apparently had that x-factor attraction that some couples just have even in real life (ie. soul mates) but through coincidence, they met after Mark and Olivia were married. Olivia and Mark already had relationship trouble from Mark’s alcoholism and with him falling off the wagon, she had even more motivation to get out of their marriage. When Mark refused to leave with her to avoid fate, she had reason to question their marriage that much more. But clearly, Olivia was not just aware of her fate with Lloyd; she had felt the passion that she and Lloyd shared in her flashforward as if it had already happened to her. She had precognitive feelings for Lloyd whether she wanted to stay with Mark or not.

    I don’t know if you’re right about the politically correct casting or not. I wasn’t bothered by seeing interracial couples. I know some in real life and they are fine folks; I don’t even think about it unless it gets brought up by someone like yourself. I really don’t get your comment about a “white guy married to an ER doctor”, what’s politically correct about that? Anyways, I don’t think this cost FlashForward ratings but if it did it wouldn’t have only been after the break if/when the show was retooled.

    Too much talk? Yeah, that happens to a lot of the newer sci-fi shows because of budget constraints. But also, this show has a philosophical content that most other shows don’t have so there is bound to be more expostion than a show that doesn’t. I agree, more action would have attracted more viewers and I would have liked that, too. But since there was more action in the second half of the season than the first, I don’t think I can agree with your conclusion.

    Finally, “Grumpy Mark” doesn’t get enough credit. Not only is the guy a recovering alcoholic, he learns that he will be drinking again, his wife will be with another man, his partner is fated to die by his own gun (and possibly by his own hand), and that he is probably the only person with the precognitive insight into preventing the catastrophy of a second global blackout. He doesn’t escape to Denver with Olivia because he knows that there will be another blackout and he may be able to stop it, preventing millions more people from dying. Oh yeah, and there is the fact that he knows he will be attacked by a bunch of armed men while he’s drunk and alone, though I think in his mind, he’s probably eager for something to fight back against. So yeah, he is grumpy, but I think most people under that kind of pressure would be far worse or just have a breakdown.

    Personally, I think this show was really interesting but was doomed by the low attention span of a lot of viewers. I think a lot of people didn’t not want to follow another show like Lost, which FlashForward was unfairly compared against anyways. Flashforward was not a show that you could watch once in a while, it took a dedicated viewer. And maybe a lot more people watched than we know since this is the kind of show that is easier to keep track of by DVR or online.

  • I think Marcus Varner has a lot of it correct. “Jorge” from MX said it best: too much like Lost; rambles too much. We ‘true sci-fi” fans really get turned-off by this lame “continual cliffhanger” approach to a series. They’re written simply to be “addictive” based on cliffhangers. We don’t like to start watching, because of the “Coronet Blue” syndrome; that was the CBS summer-replacement series aired in ’67, but filmed in ’65 & left to rot! Because is was canceled before it aired (hence, the summer-filler spot), it never had a plot resolution! So many of us avoid this type of series, because it COULD’VE been resolved in one season, like a “24” series, much more reasonable! “24” has proven they can “hook” viewers, and much more honestly. NO ONE wants to waste maybe 4-5 years of their lives hoping for an anti-climatic ending. The epitome of these “worthless cliffhanger” series (that’s the best description of these cliffhangers) is, of course, “Lost in Space”, 60’s series; Mad Magazine make the best fun of each weeks cliffhanger: A big fire in the Robinson’s space ship; then, a week later, the boy says, “hey, just open the windows and vacuum will put out the fire!”…. and Mad made a lark of how the cast discusses “hey, won’t Viewers realize the vacuum of space would also kill all the crew? Oh, yeah, if they’re watching THIS show, the Viewers are waaaay too stupid anyway!”
    Again, the Viewers rejected a poorly-concocted cliff-hanger series, as we should. You younger viewers: when you are on your deathbeds, you’ll really regret those 6 years or so, that you wasted watching lost, when you could’ve been out sailing, or living. Get away from that TV while you still have a life! The Networks are selling addiction!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *