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Friday, September 25, 2009

Attack of the Talking Picture Box -- FlashForward

      Halloween has deterred me from watching much TV in the past 18 years.  I'll explain why in a future post, but for now my thoughts have turned to one of modern society's most dangerous "drugs"--the video beast. In my pre-college school years I was addicted.  My off-school time was determined by TV Guide as I scheduled the hours of my days according to what I needed to watch on television--and that was before "must-see TV". Oh, I had some time set aside for other activities like reading, listening to music, or even associating with friends, but this time was frequently built around what I "needed" to watch. No TIVO or VHS back then.  And for most of those years it was something like a 19" black and white television set.  God only knows what would have happened if I had had the giant screen  color television sets that we have now, not to mention the various media players and video games.  I guess I would have grown roots and become firmly planted on my parents couch until my father would have kicked me out the door.
        Then, once I started college in 1969, a more socially involved lifestyle took over thank goodness. Also the necessity to work gave me additional things to do with my time. For the next nearly four decades TV became somewhat incidental for the most part.  There were the occasional lapses.  I felt compelled to watch "The Midnight Special" every Friday night, I watched "Roots", I usually watched "Saturday Night Live", I became transfixed by MTV for awhile when it used to just show music videos.  But for the most part I only dropped in sporadically for news or small doses of whatever was on when I didn't have anything else to do. I didn't have the schedule set aside like I did back in my younger days--excepting "Quantum Leap" which was worthy.  But if I didn't see regularly scheduled TV, no big deal.  I watched movies on video, but I could do this on my schedule.  I didn't feel addicted.
        However, in the fast few years I feel the draw of TV once again.  I guess it started with "American Idol".  I resisted for the first few seasons.  But after awhile, since for many of those with whom I conversed on a regular basis the topic was the popular singing competition, I looked at the show.  Then I started watching it. Then I got hooked.  Oh, horror of horrors! Oh, despicable mediocre life!  Next it was "America's Got Talent", which appealed to the circus/vaudeville side of me.  Granted the judges seem to have a aversion toward jugglers, but no  matter.  This was like a super high tech version of "Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour" and "The Gong Show" rolled into one (how about that for some dated references?).
        Still I have mostly avoided the weekly series.  Okay, in addition to "Quantum Leap", I also faithfully followed "Twin Peaks", "Millenium", and the first season of  "3rd Rock From The Sun", but the other shows like "Friends" or "Seinfeld" or anything else just didn't attract my time.  Then last night I watched "Flash Forward" on ABC.  They have been promoting this for months now and it looked like my cup of tea.  It hinted at some of my favorite topics--apocalyptic disaster, possible God connections, time travel, dreamscape, and the ever mysterious scenario of what the heck is going on.  So the show was on my calendar.
       And so last night, after "Wheel of Fortune",  I watched "Flash Forward".  I may get hooked.  It's a quality production with good special effects, nice balance of action and drama, fine acting, and an intriguing story line.  The basic premise is this:  On one typical day in the present everyone in the world "blacks out" for something like 2 minutes and 17 seconds causing chaos everywhere--plane and car crashes and massive death, injury and destruction.  After they revive, everyone begins to realize that while they were absent from the conciousness of the present time, they were actually seeing a simultaneous time a few months into the future.  Future episodes will be apparently unravelling the meaning of what happened as well as the point in the future they have witnessed.  There is also the promise of other mysteries as the series follows some key characters and the dramas of their interpersonal relationships. I will probably end up following this show if it maintains the quality of the opening episode.
      Although here's a worrisome aspect of this.  After "Flash Forward", I watched "Fringe" (a show that I have watched before and somewhat enjoyed) and then "Jay Leno" (I have watched several of the shows since it began, I usually was never able to stay up to watch his late night show).  I mean, that was 3 1/2 hours of straight TV viewing.  I'm going to have to be careful.  Maybe this is partially a function of my current "unemployment" and partially due to getting older with all the kids having left the nest.  No matter what, should I be a little bit concerned?

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