In my Flashforward, there's a different series playing in this timeslot.

One of the only new network shows to make a bit of a splash last fall was ABC's Flashforward, a mixed bag of sci-fi, mystery and drama meant to fill the void left by Lost when it come to a conclusion at the end of the current season. The series went on a little sabbatical after airing 10 episodes (apparently to avoid the Olympics) and the final 10 episodes are now airing. The first half of the season 1 was released on DVD without much fanfare in early March in what looks like a shameless attempt by the network to cash in on the shows budding popularity.

First off, a word about the DVD production values. I'm pretty sure this is the worst-produced DVD I've ever seen with a handful of crappy promos and a series of graphics and menus seemingly designed for the Atari Game System, circa 1986. Where the hell did they find the people that think this is a worthy presentation of what is surely an important show to ABC's ongoing bottom line? It must be seen to be believed. The worst. Fortunately, the actual episodes are nicely presented, which I suppose is the important part anyways. The rest of it need to be redone by professionals. Sadly, you can see why ABC and the other networks are becoming less and less relevant. They just don't seem to understand how to package and market their product.

But enough bitching. Flashforward is a loose adaptation of an obscure sci-fi novel written by Hugo and Nebula award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer, incidentally a Canadian. The original novel was set in the U.K. (I think), but the series producers have moved it to the Land of the Free because, quite frankly, they paid for it. The premise is relatively straight forward – the entire population of the world blacks out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds during which they see (or don't, but we'll come to that) 2 minutes and 17 seconds of their lives from 6 months into the future. The main plot thread has Joseph Fiennes playing an FBI agent who sees himself in front of a huge bulletin board full of clues and on the verge of discovering why the big blackout occurred. Bad guys with guns are looming in darkened hallways obviously intent on doing him future harm ….and then he wakes back up in the present, in a car accident.

From this brief premonition, Agent Fiennes starts to piece together little bits of the his future clue board with fragments discovered in the present and it offers up a strange little mindfuck of circular causality. Clues he wouldn't have recognized as important are included because of his flash forward recollection, giving one pause to consider how accurate this 2+ minute future glimpse might be. His partner, Sulu from the new Star Trek, doesn't have any memory of his own flash forward and starts to believe he must be dead before the 6 months is up. Fiennes' doctor wife recalls being with a different man in her version and so on. It's a story with great potential as the viewer is unaware in the early proceedings whether the flashforwards are accurate and whether or not alternate actions can change or prevent them from occurring.

All this sounds rather engaging but after about 4 episodes, the central premise started to wear a bit thin. The plot oscillates between genuinely interesting moments of weird paradox....es and pretentious soap-opera filler used to glue it all together. There's far too many children (2) in it for my liking, both uttering cryptic stock “bad people are coming” lines, from their own little glimpses into the future. As geek-TV goes, Flashforward is just too mainstream to satisfy either the BSG or Lost fanboys. As mainstream fare, it's too far-fetched for the average Spokane-Oprah-watcher. As the first season wraps up, I wonder if it can find its legs because the concept is a pretty cool one. Grafting a family drama, complete with whining little children onto it's sci-fi undercarriage has badly cobbled the early episodes in my estimation, but maybe they'll recover in the final half of the first season. So far, it's about a 6 outta 10, give or take.



Dropkick said...
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Dropkick said...

the premise sounds incredibly intriguing, but i've heard it's pretty mediocre from many. which is too bad, waste of an idea.

Seems the last few years there have been some good tv show ideas but no one has been able to make them work. I remember one, the names escapes me, that was an action version of Groundhog Day. A man loses his wife in some violent standoff and when he wakes up the next morning it's the same day and his wife is now alive. so basically the show is this guy trying to make his wife not die. Probably canceled after the fourth episode when the suits realized people weren't getting off on seeing this guy's wife burn up at the end of every episode.
Still i found the idea intriguing.
And that one with Christian Slater sounded cool but i heard wasn't... from you and others