FlashForward

flash-forwardSo 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.

Bingo.

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.

35_starsFlashForward is coming to Seven later this month.

16 Comments:

  1. The series is based on SF author Robert J. Sawyer’s book of the same name. So if you want to know what happens and why… of course it’s always possible the TV guys changed it, just a little bit 🙂

  2. The Desperate Housewives 5 year leap forward can not be seen akin to the concept being used in FlashForward – they are two entirely different storytelling devices. It’s not like DH jumps between present time and 5-yrs-in-the-future time, and the ladies of Wisteria Lane have 5 years to work out how to change their futures. Or I imagine Edie would have seen *nothing* at the end of Season 4 had there been a “flash forward”. 😉

  3. This and Glee are my most anticipated new shows this year.

    As for those questioning about how it could go past one season if they arrive at the future date – the story could continue with them trying to discover what caused the flashforward or ultimatly another flashforward could occur – it will be very interesting to see how this show unfolds. so much potential.

    Considering this comes from ABC in america, is it too much to think the execs went – gee that desperate housewives 5 year flashforward worked so well, how can we make a whole show based on that concept? lol

  4. So looking forward to this show. Looks great. I also wonder how long a series like this can go on for though, if it’s all meant to happen April 2010. Will there be like 10 finale episodes where we see all the characters day on April 29. I’ll definitely be watchign though.

  5. Craig, I’ve read that the show has the ability to go beyond one season, and that by season one’s end, the characters will have arrived at the April 29th date so will know how much of their vision of the future has come true. Because I’m not so sure everything that they foresee will necessarily happen because they’ve had a sneak preview, and with it, possibly a chance to change that future.

    See here’s the thing, if you knew what would happen in your future, would you do what you had to to change it (if it was a bad future), go along with the flow (if it was a good future), or is the question redundant because what will be will be, and there’s nothing you can do to change your destiny anyway?

  6. Sounds like my concern about the “Disney” connection is valid as they usually have more “moralising” than necessary. Definitely smacks of Lost to me but hopefully a bit more focussed than that. Joseph Finnes is the big attraction at this stage … let’s hope the writing is sharper and more powerful than expected!
    Jack!

  7. Seeing this debuts 24th Sept in the US, and it is “coming to Seven later this month”, it would have to premiere on a day between Friday 25th September and Wednesday 30th September. I doubt this would go to Friday or Saturday, Monday has City Homicide and Tuesday has Rafters, which leaves Sunday and Wednesday.

    My tip is Sunday, giving it a quick turn around from the US.

  8. “…directed by The Dark Knight’s David S. Goyer”?

    Christopher Nolan directed The Dark Knight. Goyer co-wrote the story for that film with Nolan, and wasn’t invited to do the screenplay.

    Goyer’s directing resume is short and unimpressive.

  9. On thing I don’t get is the date they ‘flash forward’ to in in May 2010, so will this show be limited to one season or will it run a compressed time line like Lost or Prison Break?

    And are we still hoping Seven airs it within a week of the US?

  10. Actually looking forward to this new series, Joseph Fiennes is yet another fine British actor with top billing in a US series.
    Thanks for yet another helpful review David.

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