So what would would you do if you got a glimpse of your own future?
How would it change you? Would would you address? And is there any way of stopping it?
Such is the enticing premise of the new US drama FlashForward coming to Seven later this month.
The new drama, from the ABC network, is being touted as the next Lost. Coming from the same network, it similarly opens with a bang as FBI agent Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes) crawls from a car accident on a city highway to discover a catastrophic scene. There are cars piled up, bleeding survivors, shellshocked passengers and explosions going off. Like him, we have no idea how he got here.
From its opening impact, we travel back to the moments that led up to the event. An ensemble of characters dotted across Los Angeles are going about their day: as medical staff, a couple making out, even a man about to commit suicide. Benford is after some bad-ass crims. With it disparate characters in an ominous day in suburbia, it has all the feel of an Irwin Allen disaster movie.
Without warning everyone is stopped in their tracks, literally, dropping like flies wherever they are. Narratively this is triggered and conveyed by a bright flash in the sky, a device that we universally accept thanks to so many sci-fi flicks before. It’s so familiar it doesn’t even need any real explanation -at least not yet.
In FlashForward we get a peek at our hero’s future, though to say too much more would spoil the fun.
Back at his highway pile-up Benford tries to assist the screaming masses, while still reeling from its inexplicable shock. As he staggers through a chaotic city there are choppers crashing into skyskrapers, looters robbing stores -heck there’s even a wayward kangaroo hopping down the street (Lost‘s mysterious polar bear, anyone?).
Elsewhere, one child who awakens from a bad dream says, “I dreamt there were no more good days.” Freaky stuff.
Benford later realises, his FBI team all got a glimpse of their future on the same date (April 29 2010). As they all share their visions his procedural crime instincts kick in. But it’s a clunky scene in which everyone readily accepts irrational explanations, with dialogue that is universal rather than individual.
“It’s like I was seeing a memory, but not from the past,” says Benford.
“You mean like a flash forward?” asks a co-worker.
It doesn’t take long before Benford is in charge of a task force to look into the mysterious phenomenon, working out how visions interact, what they mean, and how it impacts on him personally.
FlashForward is directed by The Dark Knight’s co-writer David S. Goyer, but despite its CGI punch, doesn’t yet match it in menace or detail. This is offered as broadly appealing episodic television, with action and melodrama tossed in for good measure. Under the Disney banner there is broad brushstroke storytelling with one too many earnest scenes holding up what remains an alluring idea.
If the characters remain too segregated it could also be at risk of becoming another Heroes. Thankfully, it looks like Benford has plenty to resolve and drive the stories forward.
One of the show’s biggest challenges will be marketing over-hype. But the premiere sets up some nice ideas that should bring you back for more. And the final scene is a kicker.
FlashForward is coming to Seven later this month.