2 out of 5
Directed by: Donnie Chun-Yu Lai
covers season 1
A randomly appearing website that allows its visitors to shop for items from the future, seemingly geared exactly for their needs; it’s a promising premise. The series gets its name from that fictional site – Futmalls.com – and is structured into three smaller arcs focusing on particular items and their effects, giving the show an anthology type vibe which, given some of the darker outcomes, could be said to be Black Mirror-ish.
And if Futmalls.com (originally Future Malls in Chinese, a bit clearer of a name) stayed truly focused on those arcs, while the scripts are often very lacking in solid character and setup work to keep the cause / effect relationships contextually logical or believable, the concepts are fun enough to keep it worth its 30-minuteish episode runtime. But from the outset, the show tries to overlay everything with a sense of mystery, both within each storyline and also from the top down – what is Futmalls? – and gives us a couple of related police / killer plotlines to follow throughout the arcs, crimes which are enabled by the future stuff. Okay, sure: then if we’re using the series as a puzzle box to unwrap the mysteries, while the smaller arcs are kind of supplemental, that could work. Again, short episodes are a benefit, and enough red herrings are thrown our way to make it workable as distraction, even if they’re rather silly and unconvincing – the police business is written as though based solely on having seen police procedurals, i.e. all cliche.
Instead, Futmalls.com does both of these approaches, and then also never chooses between either. We walk down one path for a few minutes, switch to another – there’s hardly a sense of them being connected, often, with the amount of time passing between scenes and the “geography” of character flicking from one setting to another completely missing – and then switch back, and in both cases, music stings indicating Mystery! or Drama! will appear, but it’s unclear what the relevance is. There’s this sense that we’re building to something, and then we’re not; there’s a sense that we’re working toward resolving questions, and then you realize the show already considers things resolved because of some offhand statement a while back. By the time the eighth episode rolls around, you’ll likely have accepted that no actual sense of conclusion is forthcoming.
Even setting aside the second season baiting, your sense is absolutely correct.