Sunday, May 30, 2010

History Channel: "America: Story of Us": Boom, Bust, WWII

On Sunday May 30 the History Channel aired three critical segments of “America: The Story of Us”: Boom, Bust, and WWII. The link is (web url) here. 

The “Bust” segment presented an interesting segment how a sell and cash order from an average private citizen in 1931 helped precipitate a secondary crash. The show explained how credit had expanded and how there was no safety net, no deposit insurance, certainly no bailouts.

The show also covered the dust bowl, and showed impressive pictures of huge dust storms reaching New York City, as well as the story of a girl who moved to Colorado for the “clear air” only to get dust pneumonia.

The WWII film covered the sudden ability of women to earn their own money in factory work on the home front, and then the preparation of men for DDay, which included shaving their heads.

It also covered the lack of radar in Hawaii before Pearl Harbor, and talked about the development of computers for the war effort.

It's interesting but coincidental that History's film about the dust bowl airs the same weekend that "Sands of Time" opens in the movies.

Wikipedia attribution link for NOAA dust storm picture, 1935

Friday, May 28, 2010

"Flash Forward" finale: There indeed was another blackout on 4/29/2009, pointing to March 2011

So, there was another blackout after all, at 10:14 PM, PDT, in the finale (“Future Shock”) of ABC's "FlashForward". The second flash forward date is in March 2011. 


In an improbable finish, Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes) escapes masked thugs trying to guarantee that the “mainframe computer” will start the blackout.

Then we see it, we go beyond the event horizon.

I suppose we could wind up in another universe, maybe a weakless one with no elements heavier than iron. Such a universe could still support life.

There are all kinds of urban legends of how particle accelerators could produce strangelets that could infect and destroy the Earth.

Curiously, the ABC website link for the final episode doesn’t work.

Since the season was cancelled, but the conclusion is so intriguing, I think a sequel theatrical movie (probably from Touchstone pictures, belonging to Disney) is in order. It needs to come out by March 2011. I suppose that the thrid FlashForward date would become Dec. 21, 2012.

Wikipedia attribution link for illustration of CMS particle detector inside Hadron collider in Europe

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Oprah guest challenges a family to do without electronics and bond with one another

Household organizer Peter Walsh appeared on Oprah Thursday May 27, and challenged a family to a whole week of doing without electronics, cell phones, and even regular phones. The family divided up into chores to declutter and organize the house and “bond”. His “fifth suggestion” was the hardest to take, that of forced intimacy: Each family member had to give the other a hug and say “I love you.”

The episode was called "A family stripped down: Peter Walsh moves in", link here.  And he did move in. Unbelievable,


I wondered how this show was supposed to affect adults that did not form their own families. But I recall that even at MCC one time (back in Dallas) we had created “family groups”.

Oprah, being single, kept a slight distance from the whole experience as she interviewed the family.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

History Channel: Ancient Aliens: The Return

The History channel aired Episode 5 of “Ancient Aliens” on May 25, called “The Return”. Lest this sound like the last movement of Beethoven’s “Les Adieux” Sonata, be warned: this program examined, toward the end, how the world would react if there were incontrovertible evidence of alien visitation.


It also supposes that man got his great break from earlier alien visitations, as supposedly evidence by similarities of achievements and pyramids of ancient civilizations around the world.

There have been many movies that present an alien visitation (I like Shyamalan’s “Signs”) but none (not even “V” with Anna) have really shown how the world and media would deal with it. The foundations of our religious faiths would be shattered, or would they: in 2008, the Vatican admitted that alien life could exist, and the current Pope is open to the idea intellectually. The Vatican even has its own SETI.

In fact, the episode started with a history of SETI, and an account of a brief signal received by an Ohio astronomer in August 1977, which never recurred.

The show gave an account of UFO lights over Los Angeles in February 1942, for which fighters scrambled, and goes on to speculate about Hitler’s interest in UFO’s. It covers Roswell in 1947, but more briefly than other films; however it suggests that the military was already prepped for an encounter, and that some of the bodies found in the field have never been identified as human or non-human.

Both FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt, according to the program, promoted the idea of a United Nations because we would need a “united front” to answer an alien encounter.

The show disagrees with Stephen Hawking’s assertion that if aliens contact us they might treat us the way the English colonists treated native Americans in the New World. They may have a sense of altruism, and may actually have seeded our human culture in ancient times, and intend for us to join them some day.

The narration had some gaffes, referring to finding a signal in a "consetllation" and then referring to the "Sirius constellation".  A constellation is a view of stars at varying distances from Earth. Sirius is the brightest star from Earth, about 8 light years away (actually a double star), and much younger than the Sun.

UFOReport extract from History Channel series on YouTube:



Wikipedia attribution link for image of Gen. Ramey balloon associated with Roswell incident,

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Discovery: "Alien Moons" and "Alien Solar Systems" in "How the Universe Works"

The Discovery channel aired two films in the series “How the Universe Works” on May 24 that are particularly interesting.


“Alien Solar Systems” really focused on how our own solar system gradually became stable over billions of years. At one time, it had more than a hundred bodies in orbits like those of planets, but they coalesced into the current eight. Uranus and Neptune may at one time have been in reversed positions, and Uranus may have flipped over on its side because of a collision.

There is a slight risk that in some hundreds of millions of years, one planet could perturb the orbit of another, throwing it out of the solar system or toward the Sun. It’s even conceivable that this could happen with the Earth and Venus.

Mercury was hit by another body and lost its crust, resulting in the iron body it is today.

The film described the solar system of M star red dwarf Giese 581, which may have one or two “super earth” planets within the habitable zone (planet d has the best chance; here is the Wikipedia reference ). Planets near M stars orbit close and may often keep one side toward its sun, resulting in a “ringworld” effect around the edge of the sunny side where temperatures are moderate enough for life.

“Alien Moons”, the second hour, showed how the Moon was formed from a collision of a Mars-sized body with Earth.

The film also presented the case for the fact that several moons in our solar system could harbor life in under-crust oceans melted by gravitational tug. The best known is Europa (Jupiter), but so could Ganymede and Enceladus (Saturn). Titan (Saturn) has a hydrocarbon atmosphere, methane lakes and rains, and possibly an undercrust ocean, as does Triton (Neptune), which was actually a dwarf planet captured by Neptune and which may eventually fall into Neptune.

Several moons (most notably Titan) have organic compounds called “thiolins” on the surface or in subsurface oceans.

Here's an article (from "Age of the Sage") on Gliese 581 c (closer to the star) and a system diagram, link.  Conceivably both c and d could have life, setting up a system like in the movie "Dune".

Wikipedia attribution link for image of super-earth Gliese 581 d.

Monday, May 24, 2010

CNBC: :American Greed: two bad grannies

CNBC has a series called “American Greed” that presents one hour documentary reports on crimes of greed in somewhat the style of Dateline.


On Saturday May 22, CNBC presented Episode 26, “Case FileThe Black Widows”, “two grannies in jail”, and these women were Helen Golay and Olga Rutterschmidt, in their 70s, who would befriend homeless men in the Los Angeles area, provide them apartments, and take out fraudulent life insurance policies on them with multiple companies, and then arrange hits on them to collect the money.

LA police discovered the pattern by coincidence of two detectives sitting near either other, and soon insurance investigators joined in and visited them to refund premiums. (You have to have an insurable interest in someone.) They would be arrested by the FBI for mail fraud and prosecuted; then local police set up a wire investigation to set up a murder prosecution. Police considered this one of the most diabolical female crimes in history.

I guess Bette Davis and Joan Crawford should have played them fifty years go. "What ever happened to Baby Jane?"

The link for the show is here.

Wikipedia attribution link for NASA picture of Los Angeles Basin.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

ABC: "What would you do?" with health insurance copays; 20-20 on taking law into one's own hands

ABC’s “What Would You Do” with John Quinones presented several interesting situations.


For example, an actress pretending to a child home just a few blocks tested bystanders to see if they would help her bypass automobile breathalyzer controls.



Later, guests in a restaurant were tested by a manager who abused a female waitress.

But the most interesting segment occurred at a pharmacy where several situations were setup with patients hit by copays for pharmaceuticals that they couldn’t afford. They acted out, pretending that they could be seriously harmed because they couldn’t afford the medicine. In several cases, other customers gave them cash, although bystanders were more generous with elderly “victims” than a younger (female) victim of the copay act.

Then 20-20 covered the case of Aaron Vargas in Fort Bragg, CA, in Mendecino County, who plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter for killing a man who has abused him for thirty years. The prosecutor feared that it would be very difficult to empanel an impartial jury. A forensic psychiatrist characterized the older man as wanting to possess another manly man (a straight man) by manipulating him from youth. Chris Cuomo, himself an attorney, conducted the interview. Shana Druckerman and Lauren Sher wrote the “exclusive” news story here. Vargas told Cuomo, “people can take control of you in ways you can never imagine.”

Of course, the case is primarily about "taking the law into your own hands."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

ABC will cancel "FlashForward" -- it held my interest!

Recently multiple media outlets announced that ABC had cancelled “Flash Forward” for the 2010-2011 season. The season finale (“Future Shock”) will occur May 27, and apparently has been rewritten to bring the series to a close.

The May 20 episode tonight was called “Countdown” and showed us some of Simon’s formula. There was the bizarre concept of a “tachyon wipe”, which seems to refer to a theorem from the 1970s that information (but not matter and energy) can transcend the speed of light and emerge from a black hole into a new universe. The idea had been promoted in a 1978 book by Jeffrey Mishlove, “The Roots of Consciousness”.

In the closing scene of the episode, Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes) is walking through a “FlashForward Day” celebration in LA, which looks like New Years Eve for 2000 in Kathryn Bigelow’s movie “Strange Days,” a similarly styled film where brother Ralph Fiennes plays a cop who watches specially coded disks of people’s memories of crimes – a similar concept. Mark takes a drink from a stranger, a mistake, and gets into a brawl in a bar. He has been told that in all visions he will die soon.

The media reports that ratings for the show had dropped with the Spring return. Critics didn’t like Joseph’s acting.

I think about other series. “Smallville” was very strong the first three seasons but then got silly. (They should have had Clark go to college and stay.) “Everwood” held my interest until Ephram blew off the Julliard audition.

FlashForward is a great concept.  (I think there should be another blackout.) My life began to drift after 2000 (especially after 9/11) because I had no “flash forward” as to what my life should be like in my 60s. I wound up having to pay my dues.

NBC will cancel the original "Law and Order" but apparently SVU will continue.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

NBC News "Making a Difference": Ben Affleck in the Congo

NBC Nightly News has a series called “Making a Difference”, and Wednesday, May 19 the report was particularly interesting, as Ann Curry reported on how actor Ben Affleck helps a children’s school in the Eastern Congo. Apparently in the “Democratic Republic of the Congo” (is that “People’s Republic”), or Zaire, children, through civil wars, have endured more atrocities than in any other country.

Affleck said that he regrets not having found a cause like this sooner, rather than merely bouncing from movie to movie. In 2001, shortly before 9/11, Affleck had entered alcohol rehabilitation, according to a People story (link )

This reminds me of other celebrity projects, such as Matt Damon’s support for bringing safe drinking water to developing areas (the H2O Africa project here http://www.h2oafrica.org/). Another comparable project was Oprah Winfrey’s girls’ school in South Africa, which unfortunately led to some litigation.




Wikipedia attribution link, raster graphics map of the Congo

Monday, May 17, 2010

PBS Nature: "Crash: A Tale of Two Species": the horseshoe crab and the red knot shorebird

On Sunday May 16 PBS Nature showed the documentary film “Crash: A Tale of Two Species: The Story of an Ancient Invertebrate and a Little Shorebird” (one hour) by Allison Argo, with link (web url) here

The invertebrate is the horseshoe crab, which is actually Chelicerata rather than crustaceans (true crabs or lobsters), and which has survived hundreds of millions of years and mass extinctions. The little eggs become food for the red knot, a little shorebird with one of the longest migration patterns in the world, and which biologists study in Patagonia. The documentary said that the horseshoe crabs are biologically more like spiders (arachnids) than true crabs or lobsters.  I guess the horseshoe crab would make subject fodder for a question on a high school biology test (maybe even the SOL's).

The horseshoe crab is native to the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic shore, and crabs are taken for their “blue blood” which is used to test many pharmaceuticals for impurities and bacteria (because of its copper content – and copper transports oxygen (in hemocyanin) in some invertebrates, although not as effectively as iron does in mammals; here’s a link on the blue blood in medicine. ). The crabs are returned to the Bay (Freudian slip from my Army days – “back to the bay” or BTTB) but some are lot, and the horseshoe population also drops because of beachfront development.

It’s odd to call a nature film “crash” when that word was used to title two famous (and unrelated) independent films.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

CBS 60 Minutes makes expose on Deepwater Horizon from survivor Mike Williams

BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster survivor Mke Williams told his story to Scott Pelley (link)  tonight, May 16, on CBS “60 Minutes”.

Williams gave an account how a simple oversight or accident (committed by one unnamed but identifiable engineering employee) with the drill tube led to a progressive failure that should have been stopped.

The publicity surrounding the 60 Minutes report will surely have an impact on the Congressional hearings this week.


Watch CBS News Videos Online

The story claims that BP has another well that is even more dangerous than was Horizon.

The latest is a BBC story saying that the Obama administration called the BP plan "no solution". And we've heard the stories about the finger-pointing and conflict of interest with regulatory agencies.

Wikipedia attribution link for NOAA map of spill.

Friday, May 14, 2010

"One Life to Live" on ABC does a "musical" on a senior prom for 3 days

ABC’s soap opera “One Life to Live” has a three-day musical event based on a senior prom (where "romance takes hold"). There are plenty of 80s disco songs, like”Cecile: It doesn’t matter what you say” and “Our lips are sealed”.  Somehow these episodes remind me of the muscial "Senioritis" (Cappies, dir. Glen Hockkeppel).

The soap has sometimes traded actors with “Days of our Lives”, especially the actress who played Mimi in Days, seems to be the same character here.

A few years ago, the soap was based on the idea that a mystery novelist’s story was coming to life. That’s the old “fiction in blogs” problem I’ve talked about on my main blog.

The most popular actor is probably Michael Easton as John McBain.

A few years ago “Passions”, when it was on NBC, featured a “Bollywood” musical episode.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Oprah hosts the starts of "Twilight"

On Thursday May 13, Oprah Winfrey presented the cast of Twilight: that’s Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner, who go door-to-door looking for fans. The link for the show, with a video, is (web url) here.

The cast was asked about healthy lifestyles and smoking, and Pattinson would not deny smoking (a fashion magazine had shown him with a cigarette). But Lautner said that his great family upbringing had kept him completely away from alcohol, drugs and tobacco.

Lautner (partly of Native American ancestry) described how he (at 16) beefed up for the movie, scaling back from training three hours a day, and consuming milk shakes.

Lautner hosted a Saturday Night Live episode before his 18th birthday.

"The Twilight Saga: Eclipse", from Summit Entertainment (the most upstart of all the indie studios right now), on June 30.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

PBS airs documentary of little known attack by Churchill on the French fleet in 1940

PBS has a series called “Secrets of the Dead” which has the tone of a History Channel program. On May 12, PBS aired “Churchill’s Deadly Decision”, about a relatively little known (now) episode in 1940 (called Operation Catapult) where Winston Churchill, after several warnings, destroyed part of the French fleet to keep it from falling into the hands of the Nazis. Even FDR was afraid that Nazi control of the continent leading to control of Britain and its Navy could eventually mean the end of US democracy. The link for the film is here.


Wikipedia has an article on the Attack on Mers-el-Kebir, which resulted in more French Naval deaths than did any action by the Nazis, here.

The documentary is written and directed by Richard Bond.

Wikipedia attribution link for Toulon Memorial plaque

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"The View" presents financial the cost of motherhood; host Barbara Walters to have heart surgery at 80

On “The View” on Tuesday May 11, Barbara Walters discussed her upcoming heart valve surgery. She is now 80, but healthy enough that her prospects are considered excellent.


Later in the show, the “gals” interviewed “Carmen” about the cost of raising a child. From birth to age 18 the average cost is $180000, and childcare alone costs $40000. Costs for someone born now to attend a state college would be about $201000 and for a private college about $404000.

Carmen said that the “motherhood penalty” sounds like an oxymoron. However, working women typically are penalized financially for having children. Nevertheless, the later in life a woman has her first child, the less the financial impact (particularly after 26), but the greater the likelihood of infertility or of congenital problems.

The law in the United States requires most employers to offer three months of unpaid maternity leave, and to offer the same job when they come back to work. But most countries in Europe offer parents by requiring paid maternity (and paternity) leave from employers.

All of this fits into Phillip Longman’s (“The Empty Cradle”) argument that western society has made it too expensive and risky for adults who want to be self-sufficient to have children. The argument is often called “demographic winter”.



Also, today, after noon on ABC's "Who wants to be a millioniare?" there was a question to see if the contestant knew that "don't ask don't tell" refers to the military.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

CNN: Soledad O"Brien's "Rescued": an orphange in Haiti

On Saturday and Sunday May 8 and 9 Soledad O’Brien of CNN presented “Rescued: A Story that Called to Me” about children in Haiti, particularly focusing on an orphanage called the Lighthouse. The show told of individual families, and of older brothers who had been supporting younger siblings and mothers even before the quake, an experience that does not sit very well with individualism in more affluent countries.




The legal impediments for Americans to adopt Haitian children are considerable, on both sides. But the number of adoptions is expected to increase slowly over time eventually.

So are volunteer trips from churches to go down and work. But in time, that’s expected to start happening more.

On May 11, The Associated Press ran a story by Rukmini Callimachi about parents abandoning children at orphanges, the Washington Times link (p A10) here.  "Haitian law requires that orphanage authorities do everything possible to reunite children with their birth families."

Saturday, May 08, 2010

History Channel: Ancient Aliens: The Mission

The History Channel now offers the series “Ancient Aliens” of 2 hour programs. On May 8, “The Mission”, which surveys all the historical legends for the visits of aliens, starting with the ancient Sumarians, whose writings present human beings as hybrid slaves. Later, the film shows the Nazca lines in Peru on a plain said to have been created by “mountaintop removal” very much like strip mining.

After covering Stonehenge, the film presents the crop circle evidence from England, including the hoax and the theory of plasma bodies.

Later the film presents the idea that the Moon was moved into position by aliens to make conditions on Earth perfect for life, and then proposes the idea that the Moon is hollow, and that the bottoms of some craters have never been found, and that the whole moon vibrates easily.

The link for the series is here.

Bethany Cobb from UC Berkeley discusses how to find earthlike planets for ForaTV.



Wikipedia attribution link for NASA picture of Mars sunset

Friday, May 07, 2010

PBS starts "Need to Know"

On Friday May 7, PBS premiered its news magazine to follow the Bill Moyers Journal, “Need to Know”. The descriptive website is here. The hosts are Jon Meacham and Allison Stewart.

The name of the show is not the “Need to Know” associated with handling classified information.

The hosts explained that the point of the show is to provide context on the news, to “turn up the light”, or, as I say, “connect the dots.”

One of the most interesting segments was about the loosening of firearms laws in many states, especially Virginia, where Ed Levine and his family were interviewed. The ability to carry both public and concealed weapons, and the ability to buy the weapons from private sellers without background checks in some cases, was discussed. New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, himself a Republican, argued that federal gun laws should be enforced. The Virginia Citizens Defense League (link) was presented.

One NRA spokesperson argued that 9/11 might not have happened had passengers been allowed to be armed.

Another segment featured an interview with former president Bill Clinton at his office in Harlem; he talked about the efforts to provide rebuilding of commerce in Haiti. He also mentioned that the Internet had only 50 sites the day he was inaugurated, and he discussed the “amotization” of information today compared to a half century ago, when there were three major networks who could take their time with detailed stories from correspondents, resulting in a stable “fact base”.

The last segment discussed the evolution of the use of contraceptives back in the 1960s (Griswold v. Connecticut), and in the beginning they were used mostly by married women.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Flash Forward: "Course Correction" re-echos "Final Destination"

Tonight (May 6, 2010), the episode “Course Correction”, directed by Leslie Libman, of the hit series “FlashForward” on ABC brought back memories of the New Line movie franchise “Final Destination”. It seems that the people who did not have 4/29/2010 flash forwards but survived and “changed the future” are getting tracked down and, well, eliminated. Demetri Noh (John Cho) will have to spend his life “watching his back”.


There was another interesting concept, about the ability to identify and recognize people with absolute accuracy visually from facial measurements, in this case the physics professor Simon (Dominic Monaghan) seems to have been in both Toronto and in Commercia Park, Detroit at the same time, and seems to have evaded the blackout.

There are discussions of the universe being in balance – sounding like the law of karma. Maybe everyone is getting transported to another universe without knowing it. We have seven unused dimensions according to string theory.

"FlashForward" has a real hook. I really wonder where the writers will ttake this. Will there be another blackout?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

PBS Frontline: "College, Inc": an examination of for-profit universities

On Tuesday May 4, many PBS stations aired the new Frontline documentary “College, Inc.” This is no equivalent to MGM’s comedy “College”. No, it’s about for-profit universities, which caught on with Wall Street in the 1990s. It is narrated by correspondent Martin Smith.


The University of Phoenix may be the best known of these schools, but there are many (including “Grand Canyon” university). Some do have an origin in the Christian schools movement.

The courses start all the time and offer online classes with great flexibility, but tuition is high, and the schools tend to load adult students with debt.

The schools actually employ telemarketers to call and enroll students, and it is a high-pressure telephone sales job.

The link for the show is here.

A big player in the market is Michael Clifford, who himself never went to college and claims to be a born-again Christian.

Some students in some programs like nursing say they have wound up with huge debts, which cannot be forgiven even in bankruptcy, and education that did not prepare them for jobs. For example nursing training was limited to day care centers. There are proposals to hold universities for making students job-ready before the tuition debts become collectible.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

White House Correspondents Dinner lets Obama, Leno trade some crude jokes over the air

Jay Leno did his comedy routine, about rich people eating dinner, about color, about citizen papers, and even about “don’t ask don’t tell” as like an “ethics rule” in government that nobody can enforce, in his remarks at the White House Correspondents Dinner Saturday night at the Washington Hilton. It was carried on both C-SPAN and CNN (which had some technical difficulties). 


Obama has done more than any other president for the American car industry, except Toyota.

Leno showed a clip of Biden talking about “avatar” as a new gimmick.

He talked about Republicans having happy hour and liking to watch opposite sex couples “tie the knot”.

He played a clip of Nancy Pelosi demanding that everyone “be mandated”.

Obama had spoken earlier, saying “this is no ordinary dinner, this is a Big __ meal”. Obama said “my approval ratings are very high in the country of my birth.” "All of our jokes are brought to you by our good friends at Goldman Sachs. They make money whether you laught or not."  Scott Brown was characterized as a pop star. "John McCain couldn't make it because he couldn't identify himself as a maverick. (Dallas?)  You know what happens in Arizona when you don't have ID".  He also talked about his first pitch at the Nationals Game. "President pitches no-hitter".

Earlier in the day, CNN showed all the celebrities arriving, including Helen Thomas, the first woman to be invited to the event as far back as 1962.  The Jonas Brothers were present. The event was held at the Washington Hilton.

The C-span link to cover the dinner, which was broadcast, is here. Both Obama’s and Leno’s videos can be watched.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Reality-TV writing: not an inviting opportunity for "creative" screenwriters (AOL)

Bill Burman has an odd topic for AOL’s “find a job” column, writing for reality television. The link is here. The title is "Trade Secrets: Behind The Scenes of Reality Television".  I suppose it applies to all shows like “The Apprentice, all the way to “Sami’s” “Biggest Loser” (a lot of them seem to be on NBC, where I worked in the 1970s).


Is this “real” screenwriting? No, it sounds more like a magician’s bag of tricks to entertain. There is a kind of “prestige” I guess. One of the tricks is pulling in voice-overs from various other times to simulate a real event.

“Reality television” is not journalism, the article says. But it looks like it can hardly be “creative writing” either. Maybe it’s time for another Project Greenlight contest, this one based on the idea of submitting a television series (but probably drama and/or comedy; reality would just be inconceivable as a contest). It strikes me that something as rich as ABC’s “FlashForward” takes a lot of inspiration, almost too much to come from one person (or contestant, if there ever is such a contest). Television writing, unlike movie screenplays, requires very exact cuts and time lengths for segments and has its own rules. Final Draft used to have separate templates for "half-hour sitcom" and "one-hour TV drama".