Flash Forward

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CastleTV Series

Eh, what's that picture of "Castle" doing there?  Well, I really, really wanted to review "Castle," my favorite TV show at the moment.  Alas, a friend of a friend captured what I like perfectly in her review, and I can't say anything without it being overly, um, derivative.  So, I'll just point you there and add that the show keeps getting better as the characters settle into their roles.  It's definitely worth setting aside an hour on Monday nights or otherwise allocating DVR memory for later...

Which leaves me with "Flash Forward," a new series that is a thoughtful counterpoint to the tongue-in-cheek cleverness of "Castle."  In other words, this is not as pointed a review.  I think; therefore I ramble. Sorry.


The premise of "Flash Forward" is that everyone on earth blacks out for two minutes and seventeen seconds, each with a vision of their future in exactly 6 months (if they were asleep or dead at that specific point in the future then they didn't see anything).  If asked, most people would probably like to have a vision six months ahead, but as the show indicates, it's not necessarily comforting knowledge. The show has a number of characters who approach personal and professional challenges represented by these visions, each confronted with two questions.  Is the vision trustworthy?  Can it be altered?

Detour --> My son recently contributed to a classroom debate between free will and fate, defending the position of fate for 8-9 minutes, for which I applaud him.  For anyone who knows my son, it is understood that this shocked his teacher, his classmates, and himself as he might be regarded a learner by osmosis.  That would be by outward appearance, but he's listening.  Anyway...

Most of the class took the modern or American or Western or logical view that we do, in fact, have free will.  A simple definition might be that we decide to do the thing that we most want to do at the moment of choosing.  Granted, we may not do what we would really like to do, but outside considerations such as obligations, laws, others' perceptions, etc. are all inputs that inform the decisions we make.  Still, given the net influence of the weight of all that we bring to mind, we do make a choice that best resolves these.  Admittedly, some might lean to the oppose pole terming it as the least objectionable, but that describes our contentment with the choice, not the process of getting there.  (For those looking for an "out," as the rock band Rush put it, "if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.")

Rather than focus on the crux at the time of choosing, my son observed that the choices that existed are irrelevant and only the result remains. 

For example, the fact that you could have chosen a Pepsi is irrelevant because you drank a Coke, and that is unalterable.  Regardless of how you arrived at that decision in your mind, the evidence of your life is that you drank what you drank, and there is no avoiding it or changing it.  It happened, so from the day you were born, you were destined to drink it, and drink it you did.  And if it was a Diet Coke, you probably still have that unpleasant after taste.

His point is not necessarily a persuasive point, but it's a thoughtful one that even creeps into the minds of people who would consider themselves immune to being fatalists.  There are always those soul searching times in which people raise their fist at the cosmos and question karma, God's plan for their life, randomness theory or root cause, among others.  Why did (fill in the blank) happen to me?

Return from Detour -->  As with any ensemble cast, there's a danger that there will be too many plots, subplots, and unworthy plodding to make any discernible progress towards the promised vision.  We know what the end looks like.  Or should look like.  Or might look like.  Let's get there.

So far, the writers have done a very good job of keeping the characters in close tangents to the central story of an FBI Agent's investigation into the event, enabled by his own recollection of of seeing his related clue board in 6 months time.  Questions abound.  Are the pictures truly clues?  Or are they self-fulfilling nonsense as they exist only because he saw them in the future?  Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

The show is loaded with logic conundrums, which are fun, even if they're unlikely to all be untangled.

Currently, the show is tackling two questions of major plot interest.  Who or what is responsible?  And, are the decisions made in the unfolding of events already accounted for in that fateful vision or can it be altered?   These questions are sufficient for now (and quite entertaining), but science fiction leanings aside, after identifying a responsible group and means of causing the global blackout, the show may be challenged to explain how people "flash forward" six months ahead.

Not a detour --> As my son speculated in his defense of fate, it's a matter of perspective on time itself.  If one were to view time as a timeline, then it's difficult to see ahead from any point on that line. But from places outside of that line, the entirety can be viewed as a whole.  Whichever tact is taken, how well they answer that question will ultimately define whether the show holds under its inviting but heavy premise.  Will the show remain "in the moment" for its free will answers?  Or will it depart into the metaphysical for a solution to its own riddle? 

And please, let's not get as lost as "Lost."

1 comment :

  1. I gave up on "Flash Forward" after a couple of weeks. It's well-made, but I've got "Lost" returning soon , as well as "24" (with new cast member Kara Starbuck Thrace), so I'm at my limit of deep continuing dramas. Plus, it looks like the main characters are all going to be miserable throughout the show (alcoholic cop, dead cop, pregnant cop, cheating wife,....). That doesn't seem like a fun group to hang around with every Thursday night!