Friday, October 23, 2009

FlashForward “Gimme Some Truth”: Truth Is, It’s Awful

Photo from ABC

They asked for some truth, and they will certainly get it from me. ABC’s FlashForward is s good story being told very badly. “Gimme Some Truth” was probably the worst episode so far, filled with stereotypical characters and scenery-chewing actors, not to mention a lifeless storyline. Joseph Fiennes is horribly miscast as Agent Mark Benford, who most times looks like he is suffering from a bad case of indigestion. It also seems that he is going for the world record to best David Caruso for the longest amount of time he could keep his hands on his hips for one scene. The biggest failing of the show is that despite a story that could be filled with drama and suspense, I find that the dialog, the scenarios, the one dimensional and stereotypical characters, and the acting literally suck the life out of the story.

The episode opened with Agent Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes), Agent Stanford Wedeck (Courtney B. Vance), Agent Demetri Noh (John Cho) and Agent Vreede (Barry Shabaka Henley) in Washington DC. They quickly find their car being hit by a black SUV, and their car explodes. This was the episodes own flash forward, as we are immediately taken back 39 hours before all this took place.

It seems that the agents are in DC going through polygraph tests to verify their real flash forward experiences. After Benford goes through his test, he calls Mark and when Benford tells him he is feeling the pressure, Mark suggests he check a local AA meeting. Benford’s wife Dr. Olivia Benford (Sonya Walger) overhears the conversation and later confronts Mark about the matter, Mark blowing it off as nothing to worry about.

Wedeck, meanwhile, is feeling the heat as he tries to get more funding for Mosaic. He has a friendly one-on-one basketball game with an old friend Dave Segovia (Peter Coyote) and asks for his support. Dave tells him to tread carefully, and Wedeck finds out that the person in charge of the Senate committee on funding is none other than an old nemesis, Senator Clemente. We later find that Dave is the President of the United States. No shock there.

Overlaying all this activity is Agent Janis Hawk (Christine Woods) and her relationship with female restaurateur Maya (Navi Rawat). (I laugh, as I wonder what Charlie Epps (from CBS’s Numb3rs would think of this!) They discuss their flash forwards over dinner and Janis is evasive. After the gratuitous lesbian kissing scene the next morning in Janis’ place – you know if there are lesbians on the show they just have to kiss, it is a TV rule – Janis leaves Maya there when she has to head off to work, telling Maya she can go through her stuff. Later, on another date, Maya tells Janis that she checked into her flash forward on the Mosaic site, and knows Janis’ vision was that she was pregnant. Janis seems to feel violated – yes violated! – that Maya did this. Keep in mind she told Maya to go through her stuff earlier in the day, but I guess she didn’t mean public information that she herself put on the Internet for the whole world except Maya to see. I found Janis’ upset over the matter laughable.

Janis is also working on checking into the 1990 die off of crows in Somalia as it seems to relate to the present time flash forward, and is shown a satellite image of what looks like tall towers or pylons being constructed in the area before the 1990 incident.

Meanwhile, President Dave has a press conference and tells the media that they are coordinating their efforts to properly fund the correct agencies that have the best shot at providing leads to the cause of the blackout. He adds that like other world leaders, he will not reveal his own flash forward, although we later see it involves a Secret Service agent waking him to tell him something has happened. I am underwhelmed.

After the press conference, Wedeck meets with President Dave in the Oval Office and Dave reminds Wedeck that he alienated the wrong people years ago which forced the President to banish him out west. But Dave wants to bring Wedeck back into his fold, and offers him a cabinet position as Director of Homeland Security. Wedeck looks underwhelmed.

Cut to the hearing, where Senator Clemente (Barbara Williams) is the stereotypical bitchy female senator who puts the screws to Wedeck. Later, outside the hearing, she gets in his face, accusing him of ruining her shot for the presidency. She tells him she saw herself as president in her flash forward, so she’s feeling powerful. It’s a foregone conclusion that she wants to make him pay but grilling him on his work with Mosaic and likely has no intention of giving him any funding at all. Later, Clemente orders Benford to take the stand and testify about his work and his own flash forward. Benford takes the classic Horatio Caine “hands on the hips” stance, thinking that this will likely scare Clemente; of course, it does not work. Benford’s account of his experiences – including the crow die off, the attack on his FBI office, his board filled with pictures and details – makes him come across sounding like a crazy to Clemente. The way this scene was written, he sounded nutty to me too. Since we all know he had been drinking in his flash forward, he can’t explain to Clemente why he can’t recall every single detail clearly like other people. When Clemente implies Benford’s office is trying to pull a fast one, Wedeck gets disgusted at Clemente and storms out, leaving Benford to flap in the wind. After the hearing, even Demetri says Benford sounded nuts. They need more evidence, and the towers and the crow incident seems to be the thing that may help them.

But Wedeck has other ideas, and decides to play hardball with the President. He brings out an old photo of a woman named Renee (Mieko Hillman) with whom the President had an affair and also a son. It seems that Wedeck made the payoff to the woman in the past for Dave before he was president, and now uses that as leverage to get his funding. When he plays his trump card with the President, the President says, “You know why I liked having you around so much, Stan? You weren't just comfortable in the mud. You enjoyed being there.” Of course, Wedeck gets his funding.

Later. with the agents in s bar doing some awful Karaoke, Benford hasn’t been drinking, but I am considering it, seeing that the singing – and the acting – is so bad. Wedeck comes in to talk to Benford. Benford is angry that Wedeck abandoned him, but Wedeck has a cow when Benford admits he can’t recall all the details because he was hammered at the time. Wedeck is angry that he put his career on the line for Benford’s flash forward that was compromised by intoxication. While they keep this a secret between themselves, someone else knows, because they anonymously texted the information to Benford’s wife, Olivia.

As they go to the parking garage, they find that Dave selected Senator Clemente for the VP slot to replace Vice-President Pratt, who was killed in the blackout. This is of some concern to Wedeck, who knows that Clemente saw herself in the flash forward as president. Benford is on the phone with Janis who is walking home with the stereotypical paper bag brimming with groceries, and while they talk, the black SVU rams into their car, cutting off the car. The agents exit the car before it explodes, and a gunfight erupts, with the most ridiculous background music of “Like A Rolling Stone". I have no idea why they chose this song or what it was supposed to mean, but it seemed silly considering this was a shoot out. While this is going on, Janis is also facing two attackers with guns, one of which shoots her. As she drops to the ground, she remembers in her flash forward that she will have a girl. This was the only question of any interest in the episode – does she die, therefore showing the future can be changed? Or does she live and the scene means nothing? I suspect that I will be watching FlashForward not for the mystery, but to see just how bad this show can get. And that’s the truth.

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