In the end, we didn't need a flash-forward to see it coming, and I'm not talking about how the finale went down. ABC's FlashForward started off all filled with our hope and expectations—and to the tune of 12.5 million viewers watching. However, fewer than 5 million people tuned in for the final episode, "Future Shock." In many ways it was a very sad ending for the series.
The image of Mark Benford standing on top of a wrecked car, shocked at the sight of a city that's been rocked by SOMETHING, is one I'll always remember. It was powerful stuff. And then, like a slowly peeling onion, FlashForward spun out its characters and story and ... it just didn't work very well.
As ProudTVJunkie.com put it, "I looked forward to this show when it premiered last Fall. The pilot had a unique story with a quirky, scifi quality to it. ABC was hyping it as the next Lost. While that may have been a lot to live up to, FlashForward always had potential for greatness. Unfortunately we never saw it. By midway through the season the story seemed to lose its focus. The four month break was probably the nail in its coffin."
Even ABC admitted, "In the end, FlashForward didn't engage audiences like we hoped," said ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson. "A huge part of rebuilding the network is about taking chances. Some shows just don't work out."
No, some shows just don't work out. And here's five reasons I feel why FlashForward failed to engage audiences and deserved to be canceled.
1. The story didn't have enough focus.
"The show's main overarching plotline never quite congealed," wrote EW.com's Darren Franich, although he called it a weird and wonderful show.
"So that was FlashForward, huh? Oh, well. At least no one can accuse it of going out with a whimper. The last ten minutes of 'Future Shock' were a rockum sockum shoot 'em up that totally made me overlook most of the malarky that this series was trying to pass off as cleverness," wrote ign.com's Matt Fowler.
Commenters and reviewers across the net loved the show's potential and railed at its failure to bring its story together in a way that made us care about the characters. I spent 22 hours watching the 21 episodes of FlashForward. As a viewer it wasn't my job to care about the characters and their story. It was the writers' and producers' job to MAKE me care about the characters and their story.
2. There were too many characters who made stupid decisions or didn't have enough to do.
Think about it. How many characters will you actually miss? I'll miss Demetri, Simon and Janis. That's about it. Yes, it was touching to see Bryce and Keiko finally meet in the finale, but they were missing from the storyline completely for episodes and I barely noticed. Aaron was another character whose story seemed to be just tacked on.
One person I certainly won't miss is Mark Benford, and how sad is that, when you don't care about the lead character? If he had been set up initially as a character who had to change the future to keep his wife and/or child from dying, then yes ... he's the next Jack Bauer and he can make any mistake or bad decision and we're there with him. But Mark never seemed to care about his family enough to fight for it.
Did you ever buy Demetri's decision not to escape with Zoey long before his death date, or Olivia and Lloyd as a couple, or Demetri's decision to sleep with Janis so she could get pregnant, or Lloyd admitting to the public that he caused the blackout, or Janis' decision to become a double (triple) agent and still get pregnant?
"Being a FlashForward fan became the TV equivalent of being stuck in a bad marriage, like watching the person you love make bad decisions and not being able to do anything but stick with them until you ended up in divorce court," stated tv.com's Leonard Pierce.
3. There were too many captains on a ship with no leader.
Trouble behind the scenes can often cause problems with a show and sometimes blur the vision when it comes to what the story is actually about. FlashForward was created by David S. Goyer and Brannon Braga. If I'm counting right, the series had Goyer and four other show runners. Eventually Goyer went off to do other things.
No, we don't know what really went on behind the scenes or in the writers' room, but all the changes in leadership could not have helped.
4. ABC made the decision to take the show off the air for four months.
While ABC now is getting nailed for canceling the show, it really should be blamed for pulling the series off the air for months in the middle of its run.
"With a show that started off with so much promise, it really hit a few snags along the way. Most fans did not understand why there was such a long break between November and March and for a show that relied heavily on story-flow and intricate details, that four month break meant that most of us could not remember what had happened by the time the show came back on in 2010," wrote Amy Judd of nowpublic.com.
Any momentum the series had was gone, and even though the series returned with an excellent episode, the two-hour "Revelation Zero," the damage had been done.
5. FlashForward ended in a cliffhanger.
"Way too many questions left unanswered. FF is a great show & I thought the finale was brilliant but ABC poured salt into my wounds with all of these cliff hangers. The LEAST ABC could do is bring FF back for 12 more episodes to wrap up some of the major storylines. VERY DISAPPOINTED. ABC REALLY BLEW IT," commented chyna_blue on abc.com.
Sym0n tweeted, "The season finale of #FlashForward was truly epic! Still can't believe it's been canned. :( No answers, just questions. Thanks ABC!"
Yep, ABC deserves some of the blame when it comes to how it handled the series regarding the hiatus, but I do not expect the network to keep a series on the air with failing ratings. A network is in business to make money.
What I do expect, however, is for the producers and writers to take responsibility and give us a satisfying conclusion, especially when a show's ratings have started to slip before the unfortunate hiatus. It wasn't like cancellation was a shocking conclusion here.
Joss Whedon regularly gave us satisfying endings with Buffy the Vampire Slayer because he always felt like every year might be that show's last season. It didn't stop him from spinning in some story threads for a new season, if there was one. And if Buffy had ended early, we wouldn't have needed 12 more episodes to wind things up.
FlashForward had 22 hours to give us an ending, and yet was anyone shocked to see the final moments of the series end with another flash-forward and lead character Mark Benford exploding (or not)? Why couldn't this series have followed in the footsteps of 24 and given us a complete story? While I'm certainly not shocked that there was a cliffhanger, I blame the writers and producers for leaving us in an unsatisfying place.
So, long FlashForward...
"Feeling a bit meh about the finale of #flashforward. It all just happened to plan, no surprises. And knowing it's canceled kinda spoilt it," tweeted je4d.
"This show seemed to have a lot of potential but in the end fell flat. I'll miss it but I'm afraid I won't mourn its passing," commented Knightshade03 on tv.com.
In the end I have to admit, I just don't care that much. FlashForward didn't do its job, and it lost viewers. It deserved to be canceled.
Sure, maybe if the series had gotten a second season it could have made us care about Mark, pulled its storytelling together, and focused on the characters that counted. Maybe. Or maybe not. However, now we can put our energy into new shows and returning shows we already do care about.
How do you feel about the cancellation of FlashForward?