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Future is now

October 15, 2009

Flash Forward is TV land’s newest series that’s got me hooked. The show is based on a 1999 book ‘Flashforward’, written by Robert J Sawyer.

7 billion people around the planet black out at the same exact time for 2 minutes and 17 seconds.

Mayhem ensues (obviously). But that’s just the beginning.

In that 137 seconds all 7 billion people view a glimpse of their future (or non-future)… exactly 6 months from now.

And the story ensues…

It’s a fascinating premise and concept that holds a lot of promise for Flash Forward to be the latest sensation on TV screens… in the US at least.

What it becomes will ultimately be at the hand of the writers and how they choose to explore the themes brought on by knowing the future, the characters in the show and of course, what the overarching plot line will be. It’d be interesting for those who’ve read the book to see how closely, or not, the series will stay to the book’s storyline but I for one am staying away from the printed version right now.

3 episodes in and it’s looking pretty good. I’ve got a few gripes though, but they’re minor and won’t take away much from the show (for now).

I’m not going to elaborate on the potential plot lines just yet because it may spoil the first few episodes for those of you who haven’t watched it.

Suffice to say that thematically, the show deals with personal conflict, confusion (what to do now that you know the future?), controversy, human relationships, hope and of course, the good old conspiracy theories serving as the hidden baseline to drive the show from episode to episode.

There is a concept, or a tool rather, that’s been imbued as part of the show which I’ll be looking to write about in my next blog post.

In the show it’s called the ‘Mosaic Collective’ –  a website developed by the FBI for people around the world to post their ‘flash forwards’ on so that they can collect, disseminate and investigate, the cause and potential consequences of the blackout.

The ‘Mosaic Collective’ is in fact the show’s manifestation of crowdsourcing, a relatively new phenomenon originating from the digital media space (in saying that, the word ‘crowdsourcing’ was coined in 2006 by Jeff Howe of Wired, whereas the book Flashforward was written in 1999. I don’t know if the ‘Mosaic Collective’ was part of the book’s story, but the principle behind crowdsourcing certainly predates that of its use or discovery within the digital media space).

Crowdsourcing is something that I’m interested in myself from both a personal and work perspective. It reeks of possibilities and opportunities… but I’ll leave that to the next post.

I don’t know what plans the writers have for Mosaic’s role in the story but I do hope it ends up playing a big part. The lead character/investigator  (Joseph Fiennes) in the show pitched the project to his superiors as an opportunity to paint a cohesive picture of the future drawn from what millions (or billions) of people around the world saw in their blackout. I’m just trying to imagine how the writers will attempt to reflect that bit of prophetic visualisation to us viewers.

If I sound overly excited about the show it’s probably because I am. However, I do want to be cautious about my expectations less I end up being disappointed, as with other series in the past.

Heroes comes to mind as one of those which had a really strong and promising start, but eventually started to go downhill for me. I think it was somewhere between the latter parts of Season 2 that I began disconnecting from the show… and Season 3 was just horrible from my perspective (I only watched it after I had watched everything else that was available).

And apparently, according to Wikipedia (with data sourced from ABC Medianet), I wasn’t the only one who thought so.

Thank goodness I had Fringe, BG, Entourage and Californication to fill in the gaps.

Anyway, it’s good to have something accompany my Fringe binge this season. And talking about Fringe, anyone notice the disconnect between the Season 1 finale and the starting of Season 2… especially the story behind Olivia’s meeting with William Bell and how that came to be?

I’ll end with a memorable quote from the show’s perspective by Aaron Stark (Brian O’Byrne):

“We’re all prophets now.”

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