And so we reach the end of the road for ‘FlashForward’, with an episode set on the flashforward day itself. Last week, as you’ll recall, Penny was heading in the opposite direction to Miles. This week, however, he manages to persuade her that the future of the planet depends on them recreating their flashforward, so come on back and get your kit off, Penny, there’s a good girl. She doesn’t go quite that far. Last week, the man with the beard’s daughter died. This week, she comes back to life. I’m choosing my words with care when I say that I have never, never seen a more pointless character in a drama series than the man with the beard.
Last week, Janis is busting Charlie out so he can do something with the faux-Hadron Collider, and Bryce and Keiko are looking for each other. This week, Janis finds out she’s carrying a little Dem, and Bryce and Keiko find each other. Nicole is left to her own devices and, presumably, her savant mother who we haven’t seen much of since she pitched up a few weeks ago. (Ditto him out of ‘Ally McBeal’.)
Last week, Shakespeare’s drunk and in a holding cell. This week, Wedeck gets him out so that he can be in the FBI building when the men with guns arrive to kill him. They shoot the set to pieces – won’t be needing that any more, I suppose – but even half-cut Shakey’s the man you want in a shootout, as it happens. He’s also worked out that the next flashforward is imminent, and Wedeck phones the White House with the bad news, which gets transmitted around the world. We are at least spared hearing “What? Another season of this?” in several languages. Then flashforward II happens, and just about all of it will remain unexplained. Fin.
As an episode this was OK: the build-up to flashforward time was genuinely suspenseful. As a series-ender, not so much: for anyone who cared about the season’s mysteries most remain unsolved, although the writers could presumably claim that they’d been banking on renewal. And as a series: overall, hardly a success. Nazis, dead crows, beards, poker games and a blizzard of new characters came and went with no sense that the showrunners had a grip on what was happening.
On top of that, they were unlucky with their big casting decision. Sometimes you get lucky – little-known British comedian Hugh Laurie turns out to be fantastic at playing American Vicodin-addicted genius diagnostician House. Sometimes you play safe: TV royalty Julianna Margulies enhances her reputation in the increasingly-awesome ‘The Good Wife’. And sometimes your underwhelming lead actor (Josh Radnor) is rescued by a supporting cast firing on all cylinders (everyone else in ‘HIMYM’). In this show the casting of Joseph Fiennes in the main role could have been a stroke of genius: instead, he looked uncomfortable from the get-go, and even his unforgettable delivery of the line “Because I was LOADED, OKAY?!” couldn’t save him.
Or the show. When I reviewed episode 1 I said I would stick around; I did, and it might be argued that in doing so I tacitly accepted that the show was better than I sometimes gave it credit for. Perhaps. And perhaps it would have been better had the writers known from the start that they would only have one season to work with. And not bothered with the man with the beard, or Joseph Fiennes. Ultimately that, I suspect, will be the epitaph for ‘FlashForward’: given the intriguing premise, it could have been so much better.