Tag: Flash Forward

Concerning Happy Town

As the fall television season progresses there are shows that have been flourishing (huzzah Modern Family!) and some that are floundering (yikes, who green-lit Hank?). We’re quickly approaching the ever-important November sweeps which is a time when networks will begin to unveil promos for their mid-season replacements poised in the wings to take over for these latter-categorized series which won’t see new episodes past the holidays. One such show ABC has on deck puts me at odds on where to place a yay or nay vote of support – Happy Town.

Happy Town soon to be on ABC

Now, being an avid proponent of shows in the mystery genre I whole-heartedly endorse bringing stories of intrigue to the television viewing audience – I’ve been fully engrossed in the on-going trials of Lost since its inaugural year and the new Flash Forward has also hooked my interest. So it seems Happy Town should be right up my alley if what is presented in the synopsis suggests is true. However after viewing the trailer/promo I found myself turned off, and frankly appalled, by the tactics and slant used to entice a potential audience.

Where to begin with this critique? First, “From the network that brought you Twin Peaks.” Wow. If you’re going to lead with that you better have the huevos to back up those convictions. Just because a show is set in a small, seemingly idyllic northern town that gets rocked by a murder it does not mean you can evoke the name of a series as complex, riveting, quirky and twisted as Twin Peaks in order to sell it. And sell the hell out of it you could, if the rest of the promo delivered on such promises. This one fails spectacularly in several areas.

The editing and music choices are equal parts mediocre, unimaginative and misguided in setting the tone. The odd choice to use a charming tune at the top with close-ups of a wide-eyed ingenue basking in the feeling of new beginnings makes me think of scenes from the defunct, dramatic series October Road – which makes sense as that short-lived show features  prominently on the resumes of Happy Town creators Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg. I’m confused, did they purposefully choose to mimic their last endeavor or did some leftover material accidentally get pulled into the cut?

On the topic of show runners, with the less-than-stellar October in their past I’m not feeling a huge sense of security that this team will be able to successfully head up a series in the vein of top-notch mystery man J.J. Abrams. While this group is counted amongst the players of Team Abrams their credits with him include the fourth and fifth seasons of Alias, widely considered the weakest of the ABC spy drama.

I will hold my final opinion for Happy Town the series until after a viewing of at least an episode or two, but I was not impressed by dialogue nor the uninteresting (creepy?) scenes contained within the promo. The one aspect that carries any clout is the cast (hello Frances Conroy and Amy Acker), I just hope that these talents won’t be completely wasted with what appears to be lackluster writing.

My opinion on this promo, however, is most assuredly concrete and nothing but disappointed. This is the initial venue to highlight the best of your series and set the appropriate tone. Don’t just give me a by-the-numbers intro if the very first image you use involves the words Twin Peaks, which are sacred ones. Thou shalt not take the Lynch name in vain. Deliver the goods, or find another angle to hawk your wares. Granted promos can only be as compelling as the material they have to work with, so perhaps this is by all accounts a good indication of what we should expect for this series: bland masking as bold.

I remain,

Highly Chagrined.

David Lynch

Review: Flash Forward Series Premiere – An Open Letter to ABC

To The Powers That Be:

After 5 months of building the suspense, teasing us with glimpses during Lost commercial breaks during Spring Sweeps weeks, you finally unveiled the first full Flash Forward hour on Thursday night with resounding success as seen in the ratings: handily winning the timeslot shared with a new Survivor. A rarity for scripted TV going up against the reality powerhouse – to that, well played. Intrigued by the show’s premise from those ads and extended promo, now having an hour of story to go on I feel it necessary to craft this slight critical commentary of the premiere episode with the only pretense that this should be taken as both applause for success out of the gate and as an appeal to nurture FF toward forging its own creative road and not forcing on it a Lost series template all in the hopes of creating a new cash cow.

Mass Chaos Around the World: Film at 11

During the opening minutes of FF I found myself unintentionally (okay, maybe somewhat intentionally) counting the similarities to the Lost pilot. So many beats of the confusing post-plane crash chaos seemed to be there: open on hero waking up and groggily assessing the situation (thank you for keeping it a full-face first shot rather than a tight close-up on the eye); said hero, naturally one to take control, jumping in immediately to start saving the day; hero reassuring all surrounding victims that there’s no need to panic help is on the way! At least he didn’t drop a phrase (“live together, die alone”) to be used ad nauseum in later eps. While this didn’t completely take me out of the well-paced action scene it was a slight distraction in getting me invested in the gravity of the situation right away.

Easter Egg! Geeks love that stuff.As the episode progressed other bits of the story held touches of Lost-like “hey remember this later it’ll be important” moments: oddly-placed kangaroo bouncing around a downtown street (polar bear charging through the jungle on a tropical island); a group formed to study the mysteries (Dharma Initiative); the significance of numbers – why were people unconscious for 2 minutes and 17 seconds (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42). Perhaps the above are all minor aspects that were never meant to be modeled directly from Lost (I’ll forget the totally unnecessary, blatant placement of an Oceanic Airlines billboard) and as a scrutinizing television viewer I’m looking at it too closely.

I did see some glaringly obvious attempts at grooming a show to be the refuge for fans upon your tentpole series’ finale in May, and having a couple of Lost actors on board almost pushes it too far (but thank you for bringing Dominic Monaghan back into my living room). However a lot of what was there showed massive amounts of creativity and potential – excellent cast, strong characters, well-paced story – and the one thing you took, and should keep taking, from the Lost playbook is slipping in a good amount of intrigue. The bit with a lone(?) conscious man walking around during the blackout was an excellent seed for massive water-cooler talk Friday morning. If there’s one thing Lost does well it’s light up the post-show speculation chatter.

To sum up I, and many others out there, love the twisty tales of island mystery, but please don’t be so deluded to think that we’re all in search of cookie-cutter versions to comfort us upon our favorite show’s departure next year. Keeping this in mind, I look forward to what’s in store for our Flashers in episodes to come, remain hopeful that it will find an individual voice, and will keep it on the Must Watch list until such time I find it following too closely in Lost‘s firmly-placed footsteps rather than exploring new roads of storytelling.


Avid TV Viewer Trish the Dish

Flash Forward, Thursdays on ABC 8/7c