Not wanting to sound perverse, but I’ve sort of missed this show the week it was off. Maybe it’s the curious pleasure I get deriding its wafer thin characters and laughable attempts at storytelling. But it’s actually more than those; it’s the anticipation of what utter rubbish they can summon up next. For pure and unsullied by common sense WTF moments, FlashForward has been in a league of its own this season, and the madness continues unrefined this week.
This episode starts somewhat oddly, with a sideways seasonal nod to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Demetri’s helpful spy lady, the one who told him the day he’ll die, is watching A Christmas Carol on TV, supposedly in Hong Kong. If I’d been given that detail in a production script I’d have hunted down the 1951 film version with Alastair Sim, because, invariably, that’s the one most people recall. It’s also, unlike this show, brilliant.
Did the FlashForward production people do that? Nah. They found themselves a really piss-poor 1977 BBC TV version with Michael Hordern playing Scrooge, and to add insult to injury, it appears that for US audiences the unique voice of John Le Mesurier (Marley’s ghost) has been hideously overdubbed by crap English Voiceovers Inc.
What went on here I’ve no idea, but it entirely distracted me from drawing the obvious parallels I was supposed to make between the flash event and The Ghost of Christmas Future. It then moves onto Mark and Demetri’s arrival in Hong Kong, before we move to Lloyd Simcoe announcing to the world in LA that he caused the flash forward. That scene could have been really good, except, in a typical way for this production, nobody took any time to think about it.
When he starts the conference, not one person in the room is the slightest bit excited, because they’ve no idea what he’s about to say. So why is everyone tuned in? The entire staff of the hospital have happily left their patients to their own devices to watch en masse a press conference on high energy physics. Amazingly, it’s also broadcast live on a Jumbotron in HK, so Mark and Demetri can witness the big news story that nobody knew was one beforehand. Does anyone sense-check this stuff? Silly question, I guess.
Then one member of the audience reacts even more badly than the rest of humanity and tries to shoot Lloyd. But as humanity’s only enraged citizen within range, she’s a lousy shot, sadly.
But oddly, from here the show, for the first time in a very long time, flirted with getting interesting, when Mark tracks down the husky voiced female agent by overtly threatening a nice Persian restaurant owner in Hong Kong. With Americans’ ability to flaunt international law when it suites them exercised, they find her, and with her, the revelation of exactly who it is that will kill Agent Noh. Or Nooooooooh!, as he was always called in Yu-Gi-Oh. I won’t spoil it, although I didn’t find it especially credible or even that surprising.
Like, I didn’t really buy the ‘karma’ deal that Lloyd Simcoe tries to sell Olivia later, about them meeting previously in another alternate universe. I bet he uses that line often with the ladies, and has a good percentage of takers, no doubt.
The HK trip was a deal breaker for Mark, and he’s reduced to watching the same version of The Christmas Carol that started the show in the airport lounge a day later, except now they’ve also dubbed the late Michael Hordern (Paddington Bear will be very upset, indeed, and give them the hardest stare his Aunt Lucy taught him in Darkest Peru) and then added insult to multiple injuries by playing Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, over the top. WTF?
If this wasn’t daft enough, we then switch back to Lloyd and Olivia, where one gets a pistol whipping and the other abducted. You can guess which for yourself, like it matters.
After it all ends in melodrama, we’re then given the very depressing news that FlashForward will be returning in 2010, and we’re given some unexciting clips that didn’t make me want that moment to come along any sooner than was necessary.
But to end on a high, here is my episodic list of unintentionally funny FlashForward moments. At number three: Stanford Wedeck has a childish fit and throws a Filofax (please don’t ask why he has one) at one of his TFT screens, which then falls apart in a completely unrealistic way.
Up in second place is Lloyd Simcoe walking into the hospital wearing exactly the same outfit he wore at his press conference, and using the cunning disguise of lowering his head. He’s supposed to be an intelligent person?
Just edging that into the top spot is Lloyd telling his son in a very patronising way that “You’ll love the ambulance” while wheeling him to it. That last one was so funny that I paused my PVR and reviewed it at least five times! Comedy gold. Jack Davenport should make the most of panto season.
If my review seems a bit disjointed, I’ve tried to make it reflect the staccato nature of this show, which can’t seem to find a single path worth following or a character it really likes. But those are minor issues compared to the larger one of caring about these people, which I’m finding it just about impossible to do.
Maybe there is a good show in here somewhere, but it’s exceptionally difficult to find under the mountain of ‘histrionic action movie clichés’, as Mark described them so eloquently in this very story.
Check out our review of episode 9 here.