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The Most Boring Episode in TV History: A FlashForward Review

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ABC must have been playing a joke on FlashForward viewers this week. Follow along...

The show has often been compared to Lost. That drama aired an infamous episode ("Stranger in a Strange Land," season three) in which Jack traveled abroad, met an Asian woman and got a tattoo.

Many critics consider it the worst episode in Lost history; and producers have cited it as a reason why they demanded a series end date from ABC: so they would no longer be forced to write filler episodes in which nothing happens.

Enter "Believe," last night's horribly uneventual hour of FlashForward. It also involved a man traveling, an Asian woman, and a tattoo. It was also an incredibly boring hour of television.

Demetri Pic

Similarities to Lost aside, we'll review the episode and ask questions that depict our frustration in a series of bullet points below:

  • Why should we care about Bryce and Keiko? The show has barely featured Bryce at all. Then, he and his flash forward are suddenly the main focus of an installment that centers around two people's visions of love, one of whom we've never met before. It's worth repeating: 20 million people died in the blackout. We're expected to muster any interest in the imagined love lives of two strangers after that?
  • For the record, FlashForward has now aired nine episode. SEVEN of those concluded with scenes involving characters viewers had never met before that week, and five of those new characters have never returned. (The exceptions are Simon and Suspect Zero.) It's one thing to surprise viewers with a suspenseful ending, but it's another to have those endings continually pile up with no pay-off in the weeks that follow.
  • Did Al really kill himself?
  • Did Mark really shoot that guy with the tattoo last week?
  • We ask these questions because nothing has changed at the FBI, despite the supposed impact of those events when they took place. Mark cried into Olivia's arms last week because they now have a "second chance." So why are they still following leads from his future board? Why does Demetri think he's still gonna die? Al must be chilling in heaven, looking down at his former co-workers and muttering: I died for this?!?!

Nothing harms a show more than inconsistent character behavior and storytelling. But that's the problem FlashForward encounters each week. It can't make up its mind about the future.

Should we be rooting for it to happen? Is the FBI trying to prevent it from happening? Are they trying to determine the cause of the blackouts? Most importantly: why does everyone act as though the future is set in stone?

The series has never done an adequate job of proving these visions will come true. It's simply made the characters talk and act as though it will. That's frustrating enough. But we could forgive FlashForward if these actions were at least interesting and/or tied to major world events.

Last night, however, was nothing but the personal tales of two characters we hardly know. Did anyone out there feel invested in the fortunes of Bryce and Keiko?

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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This show is as awful as Heroes....save for the fact that Heroes ACTUALLY HAD A GOOD SEASON. Boring, poorly written, dreadful acting. This show is headed for the tv land dumpster.

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You have to undrstand that the first eight or nine episodes were already written and many were filmed by the time the show first aired. The producers can't take the viewers thoughts and the ratings into consideration until the first eight to nine episodes,and from next weeks preview it seems things might start to change. They also let one of the Showrunners go, and David Goyer is now the only Showrunner.

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Wow. Comparisons to Stranger In A Strange Land are completely null because that was a truly abysmal hour of television. I thought this was a great departure from the bombast and (often times illogical leaps in piecing together) the mosaic of Mark's board for those of us starving for some real character development. It was across the boards - we learned that Aaron was in the army, Olivia finally admitting that a flashforward may need to come true and I was totally invested in Bryce & Keiko's storyline. Character focus is what made Lost great and then the mythology kicked into high gear. We need to care for these characters and I feel FlashForward is finally making headway in that area.
To answer the questions posed...
Of course Al killed himself. Unless we do a rewind of time at the end of the season, I don't see him coming back from the splat.
Yeah, Mark shot the tattoo guy... his tunnel vision is preventing him from admitting to himself that there would be more than one guy with the same tattoo. Or he's truly the dimmest FBI guy on tv.
The questions of fate and free will have gone on since the beginning of man's self-awareness...it will continue to go on. It makes sense that these characters will still be going around and around as to whether or not these visions are set in stone. Those questions are all being worked out on screen. I dunno, I thought the episode was fantastic, if a little uneven.

FlashForward Quotes

I didn't just lose consciousness; my consciousness went somewhere else.

Mark Benford

We've been saying people have been blacking out, but that wasn't my experience. More like a dream.

Mark Benford
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