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YouTube Hall of Fame: FlashForward

Yesterday, NBC released its mid-season schedule on which the charming, abysmally rated Community is nowhere to be found. The network says the show will return, but it’s unclear when or for how long (presumably none of this bodes well for a fourth season). While we await official word, this week’s YouTube Hall of Fame remembers the TV shows that were cancelled before their time.

This category is a tough one for me, because I’m always so far behind the TV show curve. Part of this is because I’m just, in general, so culturally behind the times — I’m only midway through Season 3 of The Wire (jealous?), I’ve not yet begun Breaking Bad (JEALOUS?) and until I dragged myself to the theater for a solo Saturday night viewing of Drive I hadn’t seen a movie in a theater since Wall Street 2: The City That Never Sleeps. (Okay, you’re probably not jealous.) But it’s also partly because I’m always afraid to devote myself to a TV show early on for fear that it will a) suck or b) get cancelled early and turn me into one of those raving loons that send their ears to NBC in mass but misguided attempts to get it to reinstate their favorite too-good-for-this-world show.

Unfortunately FlashForward was a little bit from column A, a little bit from column B. The commercials for the show made it seem like the heir to Lost, for once I was there to eagerly tune in to the pilot, and I got instantly hooked on the premise: one day, everyone in the world blacks out for a few minutes — bike riders fall over, buses with sleeping drivers plunge into lakes, napping people (that would be me) keep on napping — and when they wake up, they realize they’ve all dreamt about the same moment from an unspecified point in the future. The dreams range from the jarring (a married woman sees herself with another dude, a single lesbian sees that she’s pregnant) to the mundane (one guy is in a stall on a toilet) to the terrifying (one guy sees nothing at all) and raise the intriguing question: what if you could see your future, even for an instant? What would it do to your life, and what would it meeeeannnnn?

Alas, the show neglected to explore the cool sci-fi possibilities of the setup, instead becoming constrained within them. And what’s worse, it got tangled in boring, love triangle-y tripe. (Plus it featured a lesser Fiennes sibling; put Ralph in there and everything would have been fine.) So it wasn’t really a surprise that it got cancelled, though it still might have been “too soon.” The whole thing ended on a cliffhanger finale that, when the show wasn’t renewed for a second season, would never be resolved. I rue that FlashForward couldn’t get its shit together enough to be as good as I thought it might be. I may never again watch a TV show while it’s actually airing. It’s just so much easier to watch, say, DVRed episodes of Party Down when you know exactly when the party is ending. (RIP, and also, marry me, Martin Starr!)