Flash Forward… to your demise

ABC is relaunching FlashForward this Thursday night after a nearly four month hiatus. But does anyone care?

The sci-fi drama debuted last September 24 with the premise of the everyone in the world blacking out for two minutes and when everyone woke up, chaos ensued. The event gave the FBI a mystery to solve: What caused the blackout? Who’s behind it? Will it happen again? Viewers were intrigued as well, with 12 million viewers tuned in for the premiere.

But six months and three showrunners later, the program is fighting for its life. Viewers have steadily fled for the exits as the plots became more complicated and more difficult to follow, the characters (the key to any great TV show or movie) became more and more buffoonish, and the story structure is now more uneven than the pavement on the Eisenhower.

Instead of focusing on the mystery at hand, we’re faced with the personal problems of the characters. While that’s fine, the show has dabbled in it a little too much – dealing with whether someone’s gay or not, or whether a couple got married or not in their “FlashForward”, suicidal FBI agents, or alcoholic fathers battling with their long-lost daughters. Is this a science fiction drama or The Maury Show?

And there were some actions the producers took which were unexplainable. An episode of FlashForward opened in November with a six-minute recap montage of the entire series set to loud rock music which seemed way out of place. To yours truly, it was an excuse for lazy writing – a good guess is the writers probably came up with only 53 pages for the script, instead of the standard 60-70 pages used for an one-hour network drama.

The bottom line is this – FlashForward has shred audience every week since its premiere. On September 24, the program had those 12 million viewers and a 3.8 Nielsen rating among adults 18-49. When the program aired the mid-season finale on December, the program plunged 40% in total viewers and 42% in adults 18-49 as it sputtered to the finished line with only 7.2 million viewers and a 2.2 adults 18-49 rating. And the series – which was supposed to return in January – is just returning now, and the nearly four-months hiatus isn’t likely to bring the viewers back into the seats. You can argue Glee is going through a similar months-long hiatus – but the big difference here is Glee’s ratings have held up and still has plenty of water-cooler and Internet buzz – something FlashForward now lacks.

actually gets a break for the first two weeks of its return since CBS’ Survivor is displaced by the NCAA Basketball Tournament. But the show faces an uphill battle to stay alive. You know what? I’m having a FlashForward right now. In the future, I see… I see… a second season of this show… not taking place.