Written by Hombre Divertido
Its 11:00 a.m. Pacific Standard time, and everyone in the world passes out for exactly two minutes and seventeen seconds, during which, they all have a vision of their lives six months into the future. Once everyone awakens, there are disasters everywhere. Planes, helicopters, cars, and buses, have crashed, patients in surgery have died, swimmers have drowned, chaos reigns. A team of FBI agents in LA are assigned to figure out what happened, how it happened, will it happen again, and can it be prevented. John Q. Public tries to deal with their individual Flash Forwards (Visions). Are they real, and can the future be changed?
During the FBI investigation, videotapes are reviewed. People are seen passing out at banks, grocery stores, malls, and sporting events. One tape reveals a person walking around at a baseball game while everyone else in the world is passed out. Intrigued? Welcome to ABC’s newest science fiction anthology series Flash Forward.
The series premiered on September 24th 2009, and after ten episodes, went on hiatus. With episode eleven scheduled for broadcast on March 18th, ABC released the first ten episodes in a two-disc set on February 23rd. This would appear to be a marketing ploy to allow people who have possibly missed some of the shows to get caught up, but more importantly to draw attention to a series that has been off the air since November. One can certainly wonder how effective this will be since the episodes are available online, and people who are interested in owning the series would wait for a full season release.
Nonetheless, Flash Forward opens with two strong episodes that are sure to draw in the most skeptical and even those who don’t consider themselves science fiction fans. The characters are generally easy to relate to, and the individual stories are told effectively considering the limited time available. The introduction of the mysterious figure at the end of episode one, the discovery of a second person who apparently also was immune to that which caused mankind to blackout, and the delivery of the line “D. Gibbons is a bad man” (Which needs to be on t-shirts) by the young daughter (Lennon Wynn as Charlie Benford) of the lead F.B.I. agent (Joseph Fiennes as Mark Benford) on the case, make for some of the most enthralling writing for television in years.
Unfortunately, when you start that strong, it is hard to sustain the momentum, and the writing does begin to falter, as due some of the performances. Though it has only been ten episodes, there are still too many storylines that have gone nowhere, and though they still may, from a purely investigative perspective it seems illogical that they have not thus far. The introduction of a possible explanation to the unusual event could easily be seen as a huge error in judgment by the writers, as it clearly seemed to suck the energy out of the episode in which it occurred. Certain characters have made choices and taken action that seem obviously inconsistent with that which has been established, and other actors are simply not up to the task of playing the roles in which they have been cast. Sadly, one of the most obvious is Dominic Monaghan, who was so wonderful to watch as Charlie on Lost, but is now miscast as Simon Campos, the arrogant quantum physics genius who claims to have been responsible for the blackouts.
Whether Flash Forward can regain the excitement and mystery established in the first two episodes remains to be seen. That and the answers to many other questions are forthcoming in the next six weeks. Regardless, it would seem that a release of the first ten episodes on DVD with bonus features that include a look ahead as well as an interesting and entertaining, though all too brief, feature on how the series opening scene was created, is going to be somewhat of a hard sell.
Recommendation: Flash Forward has the potential to follow in the successful footsteps of the phenomenon that is Lost. The writing needs to get back on track, allow the characters to be more consistent in their behavior, and some of the performances need to get better. There is certainly enough pure energy and mystery in the first few episodes of the series to make them worth owning, but waiting for the entire first season to be available would seem to be a better choice in these tough economic times.