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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

because ABC, the bastards, cancelled ‘FlashForward’

I officially give up on the major networks. I officially refuse to get involved with any new series they might want to offer us until at least the second season. It happened last year, with Kings: the only decent new show worth watching, one with a strikingly original concept, one that was about more than just who’s fucking whom this week, and it was cancelled after only a handful of episodes.

And now FlashForward is finished. E! Online warns us that we won’t be happy with how it wraps up:

And fans might want to cover their ears right about now because according to Sonya Walger (Olivia, Lost’s Penny), a lady we absolutely adore, there’s some worse news:

The final two episodes of the series are great, but leave things way open-ended. Will fans appreciate the FlashForward payoff? Probably not…

“There’s some closure to it, but there’s an awful lot left unexplained,” the soft-spoken Brit tells us. One positive is that things really do come full circle from the pilot, but the resolution just isn’t there in the series’ final hour.

*grrrr*
E! Online takes an annoyingly chirpy attitude about this outrage:

And there you have it. The end of FlashForward is just around the corner, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy its final hours, right? Our advice? Take it for what it is and don’t expect many answers.

No. I am not going to take it for what it is. I’m going to watch those last few episodes, and I’m going to pissed off that such a smart, intriguing show couldn’t find enough of an audience, and that ABC wasn’t willing to give it time to develop that audience.

Imagine if, in the middle of the The Old Curiosity Shop — which was originally published in a serial format — Charles Dickens said, “Oh, I thought I’d have more readers by now. Guess I’ll just stop writing. Little Nell? Alive or dead? How the hell should I know?”

If the networks are trying to guarantee that new shows don’t draw enough viewers in their debut years, this is an excellent way to do so.

This has been your WTF Thought for the Day.



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  • JoshDM

    Go watch AMC : Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and Walking Dead when it comes out.

  • Keith

    I pretty much gave up on the networks a year (or is it two now) ago. So good at getting us invested in a show and then yanking the rug out from under us if it doesn’t immediately turn into the next best thing on television. The rest of the shows I couldn’t care less about.

    Plus there is so much programming offered. Few have the time or energy to try and watch it all, nor would you have much of a life if you did.

  • In ABC’s defense, the show was usually pretty awful. I really enjoyed watching it and I’m upset that it’s been canceled, but I saw this coming from a mile away. Its two strengths were that it had an interesting premise and that, when it was bad, it was so bad that it was kinda good. Its weaknesses were that it never really exploited its strong premise effectively enough and it tended to rely too heavily on soap opera-like plot lines. Am I glad it’s been canceled? No. Should it have been canceled? Kind of, yeah.

    I was certainly more engaged with FlashForward than I am with V, though V is certainly the more technically competent series. Either way, it’s a pity.

  • JoshDM

    Also, I was one of those who gave FlashForward a chance; watched many of the early episodes, but when I started dozing off, I gave the show a new nickname: FastForward because that’s what I started doing during the plots involving the AA buddy and his daughter, and several other items that didn’t appeal to me.

  • RyanT

    I really wanted to like the show as as you said the concept is top-notch. Unfortunately it took great effort for me to actually want to invest in any of the characters and thus I more or less stopped watching the past two episodes.

    It just didn’t do what Lost did so well in its first season which was hook the audience not only with a high-concept but also with the characters.

  • And when they stick with shows like “Heroes” that show promise, never deliver on it, but somehow manage to produce ratings it does nothing to restore your faith in the “network process”.

    I am, however, getting frustrated with “V”. While V is “technically competent” the writing is laughably bad at times. I find the actors enjoyable to watch and the plots and characters compelling but their tendency to indulge in exposition rather than trusting us to see what is happening with our eyes is getting very tiresome.

    I watch very few network shows these days. I have been enjoying FlashForward (once it started moving forward, that is), but I’ve learned to let the networks do what they want and not get upset over it. You can’t fight them or else they take their toys and go home. Talking to them is even less helpful because they won’t listen. It is almost as if they are daring us to watch something else.

  • Janet

    And this is why I don’t watch a lot of TV, those I love (Like Firefly) get canceled, while others just drop the ball (Like Heroes). I waited till Battlestar Galactica was over before I’d even watch the first episode. Well…. my impatience about waiting a week before the next episode is also why but still.

  • amanohyo

    As long as Crayon Shin Chan doesn’t get yanked from Hulu like the Daily Show did, I’m all set for highbrow entertainment for the next few weeks. Best localization job ever.

  • MaryAnn

    In ABC’s defense, the show was usually pretty awful.

    See, but I didn’t think it was awful. Obviously. Or I wouldn’t have cared it it got cancelled.

    *V,* on the other hand, is a nightmare of awfulness. It’s laughably bad. But then, so is much of what airs on network TV.

  • JasonT

    FlashForward had a good concept, I just hated every character in the show.

    Happy Town on the other hand … cancelled after 2 episodes? When will they learn? At least hold off making the announcement and see if it picks up any.

  • misterb

    Of course, Dickens did stop the Mystery of Edwin Drood in the middle (by dying). Perhaps TV should return to the old days where each episode was a self-contained little world. I believe the Simpsons have satirized this. Or the networks should move to the pay cable model of buying a story complete whether it’s 6, 10 or 13 shows. In a world where people will watch online, on disk or DVR-delayed, that really makes the most sense.

  • Considering that genre tv shows with ongoing plots – I call them Puzzle Shows – rarely succeed, I’m not at all surprised a show with potential gets cut so quickly. The rare exceptions – X-Files, Buffy – were definitely rare back in the 1990s, and even moreso today.

    I’m starting to think that t.v. makers need to start thinking away from the network models. Don’t sell to tv networks who’ll insist on meddling in production and casting changes and stuff like that. Make the t.v. shows and sell them direct to people at home. Aren’t more and more home delivery systems in play now (just look at Netflix, you can download DVD content directly: no disk to receive or return!).

    Of course start-up money will be an issue, but at some point someone’s going to figure out an economic model – lending? grants? – to help t.v. producers make the shows and not worry about selling them to the networks that can’t understand the shows and are unwilling to adequately promote them.

  • auds

    I learned my lesson last year when ABC simultaneously canceled Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone & Dirty Sexy Money. Pushing Daisies and Eli Stone were two amazing shows with unbelievable potential. Daisies’ Kristin Chenoweth even won an Emmy for her performance POST-cancellation! I refuse to watch anything on ABC any longer and am extremely tired of shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, which are solely about who’s screwing who. I’ve turned to NBC to watch The Office, Community, Parks & Rec and 30 Rock…

    BTW I’ve also given up on The CW, which canceled comedic and thoughtful shows, like Reaper and The Game in order to spawn more seasons of America’s Next Top Model, 90210, and introduce duds like Beautiful Life and Melrose Place rebooted.

  • auds

    Oh, I forgot to mention that while I gave up on ABC, my parents have been addicted to FlashForward, which is why I commented. They are now feeling the sting and depression of having your favorite show cut off before it can be resolved like what happened to many Pushing Daisies fans last year.

  • Pollas

    I empathize. I gave up on the major networks last season. Now I just catch up on old shows on DVD and will do the same with future shows.

  • Leslie Carr

    After the first few episodes hit the UK, I bought the book. I thought I would save it until the end of the season, but when MAJ had her own flashforward and saw that none of the characters had a future, I realised I had backup for when the story petered out. Now it’s time to sit down for a good read.

  • I guess I can just delete all those FlashForward eps I had saved up in my queue. Sometimes it’s best to wait for the inevitable cancellation so you don’t have to get your heart broken (again).

  • Knightgee

    To be fair, FlashForward was already hemorrhaging ratings before the break. It’s not as if they didn’t give it an opportunity or put it on hiatus after four episodes, like V. They certainly advertised it and let it air a good chunk of the episodes before the break, it just wasn’t well-received even then.

  • Isobel

    I started watching FF and thought the idea was brilliant, but I really didn’t give a crap about any of the characters. So much so that I never bothered picking it up after the hiatus.

    There seems to be a real dearth of good TV around (I can’t wait ’til Caprica is back on to liven things up – they better not do a Firefly on that one, is all I can say!). Even shows that I usually love, like Supernatural, didn’t have a great fifth series, or they’re cancelled. About the only thing I watch regularly now is Doctor Who and True Blood (whenever the third series will land in the UK, that is).

  • MaSch

    The prospect of Dickens not finishing “The Old Curiousity Shop” sounds dreadful – we wouldn’t have Oscar’s great quip about the appropriate reaction to Little Nell’s death scene, then.

  • Lisa

    why do you like this show? just because it’s original, doesn’t mean it’s not boring

  • Jim Mann

    I’ve enjoyed FlashForward and will be sorry to see it go. It was inventive and interesting, and I did like (or at least was interested in) many of the characters. (I’ve been a Jack Davenport fan since Coupling.)

    But it did have an issue that many shows and books that have multiple plot lines have: in most cases, there are plot lines we care about a lot more than others, and thus are impatient when one of the plot lines we care less about is taking up time. We want to get back to the plot lines and characters we really care about. As someone mentioned earlier, the subplot about the AA dad and his daughter was far less interesting that the plot lines around the FBI agents.

    But this is not unique to FlashForward, and something can still be quite good and have this issue. I really like George R.R. Martin’s Clash of Kings fantasy series (and am looking forward to the HBO series), but everytime he switches to the sea kings subplot (those who have read the series know what I’m talking about here) I groan and hope that it’s not too long until I get back to the characters I really want to follow.

  • Scott

    I’m with you 100%… (but want to add Better Off Ted to the list of dumb-assed moves by ABC) Kings was genius and just getting up a head of steam… who knows where it would have taken us over time, the paradigm seems to be if it isn’t yet ANOTHER cop show it’s doomed, forget intelligent, smart or clever – those are death for a show anymore. How the hell Lost got to finish it’s story is a mystery, most shows don’t even get more than 2-3 episodes before the morons in programming rush in to kill it… and heaven forbid we ever run out of the lowest common denominator – reality programming… the crap that they run when they have nothing else to say. I’m done with Network, high-concept shows are a thing of the past, everything is a cheap copy of last years retread of some stale idea, there’s no more room for interesting shows, they prove this to us every time they kill another great idea in favor of garbage.
    No wonder Hollywood is dying, they’ve been brain dead for years, time to give the public airwaves back to someone who gives a crap.

  • JoshDM

    Firefly and Jericho are the most memorable to me as great shows that died early.

    Kings felt too much like Jericho; I didn’t watch it so I wouldn’t get attached.

    Clerks Animated Series was unfairly judged.

  • Drave

    I’m sad about FlashForward, but not too surprised. Any word on Fringe? I thought the first season was pretty bad, but it really hit its stride this season, except for that one terrible Holodeck episode a couple weeks ago.

  • Nod

    Jericho, Invasion, Firefly, Threshold and on and on…

    Network television will be a thing of the past in the near future and it serves them right. Their demise will be of their own making. They’ll need those suits for job hunting.

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