Flashforward

A long time since my last post in English… and now I have to write something, or I’ll end up forgetting English completely.

I’ve seen… maybe the third episode of Flashforward. I’ts a TV series about a worldwide faint, that every person in the world suffers exactly at the same time, and lasts exactly the same: 2′ 17″. During that time, every person has a vision about the future, exactly six months later; those visions are apparently coherent. So it seems that they have really seen the future. That’s the flashforward, as opposed to flashback. The main character (Mark Benford) is an FBI investigator who, in his flashforward, saw himself in front of his noticeboard with the collected evidences.

The investigators begin to collect information, visit people and so on. And everything seems to fit, so it looks like they have really seen the future. Of course, in many cases people don’t like what they see; they hide some details to their close friends or lovers (as the truth may be unpleasant). Even worse: during the event some of them did not have any flashforward at all… does that mean that they’ll be dead six months later?

This approach is a great idea in the sense that you can write tons of stories and raise lots of questions upon it. But there’s a big risk you’ll end up ruining such a great idea. After all, the idea is not so original; it’s great only if you manage to overcome the difficulties where others have failed. Namely, time travel.

Writing about time travel in any form is not a simple thing. It has been done millions of times in the past, and just raising the issue as a great idea and leaving it open to reflection won’t work anymore; you must assemble a credible story, and you must be really good at that, since you must cope with (and solve) many possible paradoxes. For instance, I’ve recently read some stories by Greg Egan, that faced this subject, and he’s brilliant in some ways, but I didn’t like his way of solving these problems (neither his narrative style, quite confusing). And, in my opinion, something’s going wrong with Flashforward. Maybe the book it’s based on is better built, or maybe everything will make sense later, but at this moment I’m quite disappointed with some details.

For instance: Benford recalls some pictures of his noticeboard, as he guides the investigation. And he goes on finding evidences that take their place in the noticeboard, as he had seen in his flashforward. That sort of jigsaw-solving is great as a dramatic resource. But…

Woulnd’t it be obvious that anybody in his situation would try to change the future? He would use a different noticeboard, or put the pictures and notes in a completely different layout on purpose. Let’s see if we have really seen the future, right? There are things which we don’t know, and they are happening right now and taking us to that moment we’ve all seen in the future. But what about the things that we already know? Let’s turn them upside down! Let’s challenge this phenomenon!

Of course, that would be a paradox. And it would be difficult for the authors to solve that. Maybe something will end up mending everything at the last minute so as the prophecy will come true, but in that case the writer will have to be really thorough with the details, and it won’t be credible anyway. Or maybe that won’t happen, since the things people alter are not significant for the future; but then, it would be quite difficult to tell which details are relevant or not, once some flashforwards are invalidated by human actions (what would, then, prevent us from altering the whole future?).

The point is, I can’t imagine why on Earth the characters don’t try to do this and challenge their own flashforwards.

So the series is not bad, but I hope they have a great plot behind these naïve decisions. If that’s not the case, any Terminator film would have been better written than this…

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2 comentarios to “Flashforward”

  1. darioa Says:

    –The point is, I can't imagine why on Earth the characters don't try to do this and challenge their own flashforwards.—Sí que lo hacen. En el final de un episodio (el segundo), el protagonista quema a propósito una pulsera que salía en su visión.Es una serie y la gracia supongo que está en que no se sabe aún si el destino está cerrado, o si por el contrario se puede influir en él, etc. A ver cuántos capítulos lo consiguen estirar con interés.Una temporada está asegurada, pero cuando lleguen al día D y se sepa que pasa no sé como harán para seguir otro año. Pero bueno, visto los retorcimientos de Prison Break y Perdidos para alargar lo inalargable, cualquier cosa es posible…

  2. Guti Says:

    Vale, pero eso de la pulsera es amagar y no dar. Seguro que hay más pulseras por el mundo y puede acabar cayéndote otra encima… Pero pon todas las cosas en el tablón en otro orden, o en un tablón distinto, o cámbiate de oficina, o píntante el pelo de verde. Rebélate en serio 🙂 A ver si es que el último día llega la de la limpieza y así, sin querer, lo deja todo como en la visión, y también sin querer te tiñe el pelo…Respecto al estirajamiento de series, creo que es un enorme error de nuestros días, que convierte una obra potencialmente respetable en una papilla asquerosa, y de hecho yo no veo las series así (y Flashforward la veo sin demasiada fe). Me niego a que me enganchen con monsergas durante seis o siete años. Sobre ese tema ha escrito mucho mejor que yo el gran Antonio Rico, y además refiriéndose concretamente a Flashforward. O mucho me equivoco, o pongámonos en lo peor…

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