I watched the second episode of FlashForward last night. On the plus side it’s nice to get a series at roughly the same time that it airs in the US. On the downside all the characters are idiots.

Basically it’s a twist on the old time-travel paradox problem. In this case everyone (as in the entire world) has seen an excerpt from their life in about six months time. Because they all saw the same time period there’s enough corroboration for everyone in the world to know exactly which point in time it is, down to the minute. The characters all seem to be concerned about whether they saw the “real” future which can’t be changed, or just a possible future.

Listen up idiot characters, what you saw was at best a possible future, and at worst a poorly thought out plot hole!

Think about it. If you knew that at a specific time in six months you could effectively send a message back in time to yourself, do you really think you’d spend that couple of minutes on the toilet or having an ultrasound? Of course not. You’d spend that couple of minutes intensively looking at a message to your former self – most people would send back the lottery numbers or share prices, but others would warn themselves to have a health check, or to look in on their mother more frequently. But nobody would just be carrying on their normal lives for that couple of minutes.

There is, of course, the argument that we’re watching them the “first time” through this time loop, so they’re seeing mundane futures because they haven’t lived through them to change them yet. But that doesn’t mesh with the fact that FBI guy has a wall full of clues about the flash forward – he must have gone through it at least once.

Which does raise the question as to why FBI guy isn’t keeping a nice summary sheet in the middle of his board. Why all the rubbish with the cupcake woman, when he could have just left himself a note to say “Go to Pigeon, Utah. Doll factory. Watch out it’s booby trapped.” I’m sure the dead policewoman would have appreciated that at least.

The underlying problem is simply that they all saw the same moment in time. If everyone had seen a different moment – some in six months, some in six years – then most people wouldn’t know exactly when their flash forward moment takes place, and therefore wouldn’t be able to send themselves a useful message.

Unless the writers are going to pull some amazing paradox-nullifying plot out of thin air, I fear that I won’t be able to watch the rest of this series without constantly wondering why they’re all complete idiots, rather than lottery winners having a grump about how many other people won that week. But I thought we’d get a badly thought out time paradox story as soon as I saw Brannon Braga’s name on the credits – it always used to be a red flag for such stories back in the days of Star Trek:The Next Generation as far as I was concerned.