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TV: FlashForward (S01E01)

Wikipedia Fact: "FlashForward is a science-fiction television series currently airing on ABC. It is based on the 1999 novel Flashforward by Canadian science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer."

Wikipedia Fact: "FlashForward is a science-fiction television series currently airing on ABC. It is based on the 1999 novel Flashforward by Canadian science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer."

Year of Broadcast: 2009

Starring: Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Jack Davenport, Zachary Knighton, Peyton List, Brían F. O’Byrne, Courtney B. Vance, Sonya Walger, Christine Woods

Summary: All around the world, people black out for exactly two minutes and seventeen seconds and seem to experience visions of a specific date in the future, then try to piece together what happened.

Thoughts: FlashForward doesn’t seem like it minds the association with Lost, the programme ABC are setting it up to be a companion for (and then presumably its replacement when Lost finishes next year).  As well as sharing its title with a key element of one of Lost‘s  seasons (though this series is based on a book that pre-dates Lost by several years) and sharing one cast member (Sony Walger), it opens with one of the main characters, Mark Benford, emerging from an accident (just like Jack in the opening of Lost) and then immediately plunges into a flashback, one of Lost‘s signature storytelling devices (though it could be argued that the ‘flashback’ is more in line with another J. J. Abrams series, Alias, which regularly opened with a dramatic event but would then jump back in time to explain how they got to that point).  There’s even an early scene with a kangaroo hopping along the street that brings to mind the initially unexplained polar bear seen in Lost.

So, Lost parallels aside, does FlashForward hold up on its own?  Based on just this initial opening episode, I’d have to say yes, so far it does.  There are only a few cast members properly fleshed out so far because the blackout event and its aftermath took up a lot of the running time, but hopefully things will properly expand in the coming weeks.  We were shown or told about quite a few of the flashforwards among the main cast, most of which seemed to show unwanted outcomes, and it will be interesting to see just rigid the future turns out to be on the show.

The central concept is an interesting one, raising questions of fate, time travel and our interpretation of time, and how the world would respond to an unexplained worldwide phenomenon that killed many people and had no obvious person or group behind it all.  With several of the main characters working for the FBI it seems likely that the official investigation is going to get a lot of focus, but hopefully it won’t lean too heavily in the same direction as something like Fringe and focus more on the people rather than the case.

The other potential hurdle for the series to overcome is the same as that experienced by Heroes, which also gave itself a specific date to work towards in the first season and an event to try to puzzle out and stop.  Once it had dealt with that Heroes struggled to regain the same feel as the first season and has never been as good since.  I can’t tell for sure yet if FlashForward is heading in a similar direction with the plot and it could easily set itself up for its second season in a much better way that Heroes managed, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

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