TV review: "FlashForward"

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

"FlashForward" is the worst show I can't stop watching.

I should explain that, during a recent move, I didn't have cable for about two weeks. And all my DVDs were trapped in a snowed-in storage locker. The only thing I had to watch was a "FlashForward" disc (the first half of season one) that ABC sent us.

The show is so bad I considered giving up after a few episodes. Watching nothing at all seemed like a better option. Unfortunately, I stuck with it.

Now I'm hooked.

You haven't missed much in the 10 episodes so far. Everyone on the planet blacked out for 137 seconds and witnessed their lives six months in the future. How did this happen? Will the visions of the future come true? Do you care?

The first season resumes tonight, crawling toward a conclusion that will inevitably be described as merciful. Lest you be tempted to check it out, here are five reasons why "FlashForward" is one of the lamest hours on TV.

I'll let you know how it ends.

1. The acting is bad. Really bad.

Sure, the writing was copied directly from Central Casting's Character Cliche Cheat Sheet & Astrological Chart. You can't blame the actors for that. But you can blame them for the overwrought, under-thought performances.

I guess I've been spoiled by the fine acting on all those glossy cable dramas ("Mad Men" et al). Has network TV really sunk this low?

2. This is the FBI?

The investigation into the blackout mystery is led by the growling Special Agent Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes) and a team of brooding misfits who could barely solve a crossword puzzle. I've seen grittier cops on "Law & Order: Parking Violations Bureau."

3. The plot is slow, boring, redundant and boring.

I'm not the first to point out that the sci-fi mystery setup seems cribbed from the "Lost" playbook: Hook viewers by teasing out a plot that's intricate and compelling.

The only problem is that "FlashForward" is neither intricate nor compelling. It's hard to care what happens next when nothing much has happened yet.

4. Dr. Benford, miracle worker.

One of the least believable of all the unbelievable characters is Dr. Olivia Benford (Sonya Walger), who's always on call when someone lands in the hospital. She works the ER and trauma ward! She's a brilliant surgeon! She's a pediatrician!

Ten million people live in L.A. County, but they only need the one doctor.

5. The time-travel maze is a dead end.

I'm a huge fan of mind-bending time warps ("12 Monkeys" is one of the all-time greats). What if you could travel to the past and change your future? It makes you think, right?

But there's no thinking in "FlashForward." The show already established that the future can be altered (uh, I guess that's a spoiler), yet the characters are still obsessing about the inevitable. It's not inevitable! Didn't you watch the last scene?!

Apparently, the cast isn't even paying attention to this crap.


8 p.m. Thursdays, ABC (Channel 6)

Grade: F+