FlashForward: Season One, Part 1 Review

One thing FlashForward and Lost have in common is actor Dominic Monaghan. Yes, one of the four Hobbits does make a credited appearance in both shows. Maybe Monaghan is considering jumping on the bandwagon for a show that necessarily must fill the gap as Lost enters its sixth and final season. FlashForward does not necessarily strive for the mantle of what has been called the best show on television, but the pretense is there. As Lost winds down, creators Brannon Braga (veteran Star Trek TV writer) and David S. Goyer (best known for penning Batman Begins and The Dark Knight) hope you’ll jump right into FlashForward, embracing the mystery at the heart of the show.

To be fair, it’s a damn good one – FBI Agent Mark Bedford (Joseph Fiennes) wakes up in an overturned car in the middle of a highway. Screams and explosions fill the air. He extricates himself from his totaled vehicle and looks out over the Los Angeles skyline. It is burning. He is disoriented and dazed, but he remembers blacking out and seeing a vision. But what kind of vision was it? And did anyone else black out at the same time?

It would be difficult to summarize the concept of the show without offering minor spoilers so bear with me – Bedford and his partner Demetri Noh (John Cho, who despite his best efforts, never rings true as an FBI agent) soon find themselves heading a task force to uncover the reasons behind what turns out to be a global blackout. In the space of 137 seconds, the world lost consciousness. Those who survived the disaster that followed wrestle with what they consider to be visions of the future aligned around a single date – April 29th, 2010 – D-Day.

Why 137 seconds? What did everyone see? Can the future be changed? Just a few of the questions the show wrestles with early on. We spend the majority of our time with Bedford, whose vision handily involves him working on the flashforward case. Using the future memory as a guide, he pieces together evidence and struggles to assume responsibility over a timeline that may be unpreventable. His partner Noh is faced with an even grimmer prospect – he didn’t see anything during the blackout – does this mean he is dead six months from then?

In a nutshell, those are some of the questions we follow in the first ten episodes. The show is scheduled to return March 18, 2010 and play until the season finale on May 27, 2010. Its strengths are visible early on – the concept, based on the novel by Robert J. Sawyer, is engaging and offers a variety of effective questions. The investigation is relatively solid, although pieces of evidence do fall into Bedford’s lap at opportune times now and then.

It is easy to be compelled by the moral argument at the heart of the show – can you change the future once you’ve seen it? “We are all prophets now,” a character states, and although religion does not take a forefront in the series, it is definitely considered a force acting on people in the wake of a global disaster. The production design and cinematography are handsomely handled, professional if not particularly unique. As an investigative thriller, FlashForward is more than watchable.

Unfortunately, Brannon and Goyer structure the story around a cast of weakly developed characters, including Bedford’s wife Olivia (Sonya Walger, also of Lost fame), his friend Aaron (Brian F. O'Byrne), his daughter Charlie (Lennon Wynn) and a multitude of other thinly sketched personalities. The pacing of the show slogs to accompany repetitive conversation between side characters verging on essentially the same set of problems. There is little development afforded to the personalities surrounding Bedford and even Noh becomes grating in his unyielding obsession with the knowledge of his possible demise. A reasonable worry, yes, but difficult to stomach when that’s all you give a character to work with.

FlashForward thrives when it moves the story along. The audience does not take long to catch up with the plot and when we are faced with yet another conversation recounting facts we are more than familiar with, it saps the show of momentum and the concept calls for the kind of momentum that drives…well, Lost, for example. Still, for a half season worth of entertainment, FlashForward pays its dues and is sluggish at worst and addictive at best. Hopefully they learn from this first half when the show goes back on air.

DVD Bonus Features

The special features are sparse, with one behind-the-scenes look titled Creating Catastrophe: The Effects of a Global Blackout, a 7-minute long look at the special effects that render the destruction that follows the blackout. Also included is a preview of the first episode of the second half of the first season, titled “FlashForward: A Look Ahead,” about 5 minutes worth of preview material. Finally, a 90 second promo is included. That is all.

"FlashForward: Season One, Part 1" is on sale February 23, 2010 and is rated PG13. Drama, Sci-Fi, Television. Directed by Bobby Roth, David S Goyer, Michael Namkin, Michael Rymer, Nick Gomez. Written by Brannon Braga, David S. Goyer, Robert J. Sawyer. Starring Christine Woods, Courtney B Vance, Dominic Monaghan, Jack Davenport, John Cho, Joseph Fiennes, Peyton List, Sonya Walger, Zachary Knighton.

Mar
02
2010
Mark Zhuravsky • Staff Writer

I'm a prolific blogger, writer and editor who loves film.

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