Why FlashForward Deserved Another Season More than V
Last night was the series finale of FlashForward, though many people, myself included, hoped the series would be renewed for another season. Meanwhile, ABC’s other sci-fi series with Lost-fan appeal, V, has been signed on to come back. At first glance, this struck me as very much the wrong move, but the Internet is full of evidence defending ABC’s decision, or at least explaining it. Some of it seems founded, some not, and some of it really seems like it should be irrelevant altogether.
The way I see it, this boils down to four categories:
The people at UGO had a theory, which turned out to be a prime example of coming to the right conclusion for the wrong reasons. Their basic premise: Nobody wants to buy FlashForward merchandise, while the aliens of V are inherently marketable. Well, let’s look at each show’s section of the ABC online store. FlashForward‘s is not terrible, though they’ve skewed a little indie, and the shirts aren’t immediately identifiable with the show. V‘s doesn’t exist. The only show starting with V in the ABC store is The View.
But I realize that all this proves is that FlashForward has been better marketed so far. One can still argue that the potential to market V is still greater, though I don’t think it is. UGO’s argument centers around action figures, and they have a valid point that aliens, cops, and priests would make better figures than FBI agents, FBI agents, and more FBI agents. But action figures aren’t everything, and FlashForward has enough crazy lore potential for some great I’m-in-the-loop-and-you’re-not shirts with images and slogans from the show.
Some might also argue that it’s proof of FlashForward‘s inevitable failure that it lost to V even when it was being more heavily marketed. But honestly, this goes back to the earlier stated problem that there’s a real disconnect between the show and the shirts. If I saw someone with a shirt with dead crows on it, I wouldn’t think “Oh right, I should watch FlashForward.” They probably could have helped the show out with better merch.
This round is a draw. One half-point to V, one half-point to FlashForward.
V had the better ratings. It’s just a fact, and I’m guessing it’s the fact that most mattered. But pure numbers don’t tell the whole story here. FlashForward, which played from 8pm-9pm on Thursdays, was battling with NBC’s always-stellar comedy lineup and what has been touted the best season of Survivor ever. V, on the other hand, was on the air from 10pm-11pm on Tuesdays, and was up against The Good Wife (personally, meh, but I hear it’s good and somewhat popular) and Parenthood (universal meh). So I’m just saying, V had it a little easier. And this doesn’t even take into account V‘s airing directly after the ultimate network TV phenomenon, LOST, featuring one of its most beloved actresses. Still, numbers are numbers, and it was probably not worth the investment to sign on another whole season just to try a new time slot.
V wins this round, but barely: V 1.5, FlashForward 0.5.
Let me make a quick distinction here before I delve into this: The next and final section is called staying power, and so the general plot arc will not be discussed in this section.
So let’s talk about acting. FlashForward started off poorly in this category, but when they got Joseph Fiennes to stop grimacing, things took a turn for the better. In general FlashForward has had some pretty good performances. The plot demands a lot from the actors and they have to show a great versatility. For the most part, they succeed. My general rating would be “Slightly Above Average.” V has a great cast of actors, but here’s the thing: They are each asked to show one emotion throughout the course of the series, save a few characters, mainly Lisa and Joshua. Erica Evans is angry, Kyle Hobbes is aloof, Ryan is, well, just awful, and Father Jack Landry is worried. Meanwhile the Vs are by definition emotionless. That’s all the actors do, and they don’t even do it all that well, though it’s passable. Their rating is “Average.”
For writing, by which I principally mean dialogue, let’s make the discussion quick. Both shows have pretty hackneyed dialogue with overly obvious plot-explanation and recycled jokes and phrases. They both get a “Below Average” on my entirely arbitrary scale.
I’m gonna call the last subcategory here “epicness,” and it includes some elements of plot along with score, visuals, and the general feel of the show. I’m also going to throw in believability. I felt, once again, that V started stronger, but quickly lost its focus. Both series are about global events that would have everyone on Earth talking. FlashForward, after a few episodes, really made this into a global event with epic panoramas of foreign continents, a swooping score, and a sense conveyed that what was happening really mattered. What started as an overly Los Angeles-centric show became a real global phenomenon.
V did the opposite, starting the show off well with a global announcement that the Vs come in peace. But now, the series is basically about four people trying to fend off an army of aliens. Four people. Are you serious? There is a fleet of space ships now surrounding the Earth. The Vs are seemingly infinitely superior in physical prowess and technological innovation, and yet, whatever their goal is, they still haven’t achieved it. They’re so worried about this terrorist group, but seriously — if they just focused on what they were supposed to be doing, they’d be done by now. In terms of the epic, the visuals of the spaceship and holo-screens have been stale since the third episode, and now it just feels like the show is going through the motions.
This round goes to FlashForward: V 1.5, FlashForward 1.5.
When FlashForward first started, the producers announced there would be another blackout later in the series to keep things going, along with some other promises. This seemed contrived at the time, but the show built up to it pretty well, and then, in the end, it happened in one of the least-planned-for final scenes in recent memory (still a better ending than LOST? You decide!). By setting this blackout much farther in the future, the show was set up to go on for a long, long time. And there was an intricate web of mysteries still to be answered regarding those responsible for the blackouts and their reasons.
Then, there’s V. Considering how powerful these aliens are, it seems that at some point they’re just going to wipe us out. Or, at the very least, make their evil intentions very clear to the world. I really don’t think the show can pull off another season of covert war between four people and a horde of aliens. And the Vs’ real agenda is starting to suffer from Defying Gravity Syndrome. If they don’t reveal its true nature soon, people will stop caring, if they haven’t already. V is a show where one side has to win, then it’s over. And since one side should’ve won already, it’s hard to imagine it going on longer than one additional season. FlashFoward was more than just about investigating the global blackout. It was about what happens to the world when we all see our future. It’s about people and human nature, and those never go away. Unless, of course, the Vs get their way.
This final round goes to FlashFoward.
The final score is: V 1.5, FlashForward 2.5. Winner: FlashForward.
I’m not trying to say V is a bad show. It’s last few episodes of the season contained some remarkably strong character depth, at least for the few interesting characters the show offers. Both shows were entertaining offerings in this past TV season, but FlashForward has more potential to actually keep people entertained in the future.
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