Skip to content

TBTS Reviews: FlashForward

September 27, 2009

You have to give ABC credit. While the network consistently pelts us with terrible sitcoms (Modern Family may be this season’s lone exception), when it comes to scripted drama the network seems to actually be trying to be unique and interesting.

While other networks simply try to duplicate the successes of their programs by piling on more versions of hit shows — CSI and Law & Order come to mind — and cash in a quick buck, ABC has been inspired by the trippy smash Lost to fish in deeper waters. Case in point: the network premiered its well-hyped sci-fi outing FlashForward this past week, which begins with a mysterious event in which everyone in the world blacks out for two minutes and seventeen seconds, during which they are given mysterious glimpses six months into their own futures.

Okay, we’re not totally off-book here. Like Lost, FlashForward opens with a catastophe (Lost’s was the crash of Oceanic 815), wherein the blackout leaves cars destroyed, helicopters crashed, and folks injured as the world struggles to understand what has just happened. Presumably, the mystery to be solved will be why the blackout occurred, and who might have been behind it. And that mystery, we can assume, will lead to other mysteries along the way. Because FlashForward is, make no mistake about it, a natural descendent of Lost. Though that’s not such a terrible thing.

For starters, it has a lot going for it. The premise is certainly interesting, and the premiere episode didn’t work too hard to set up a thousand details at once, opting instead to let the narrative unfold naturally. Obviously, there will be more characters involved than the six or seven on which the premiere focused, but it didn’t force the cast down our throats outright, which shows some confidence that FlashForward is in no hurry and thinks it may be around a while.

The writing’s pretty pedigreed for TV too, with Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and Blade writer David S. Goyer steering the ship, the former both films which also featured clever, slowy unraveling plotlines. Joseph Fiennes (remember him?) plays federal agent Mark Benford, whose glimpse into the future yielded a view of his future self close to solving the blackout’s mystery, though his wife’s flashforward depicted a life without her husband involved. A female co-worker of Mark’s saw herself receiving a sonogram, though she’s not pregnant nor involved romantically with anyone. And even worse, Benford’s partner Demetri (John Cho, of Harold and Kumar) didn’t see anything at all during the mass look into the future. Does this prognosticate Demetri’s death in the next six months? Will Mark explain the blackout? What other questions will arise?

Like Lost, FlashForward seems to be of the “ask more questions than are answered” school of television, which has seemed to frustrate some fans of Lost in the past. But those deep into the time-traveling island drama know that the ride is frequently worth it. FlashForward may very well prove to be a fruitful show to follow as well; its plucky and intriguing premiere certainly bodes well and hooks instantly. It may just be ABC’s new “It” show and a breakout of the fall season if it catches on. Unfortunately for ABC, the network can’t see six months into the future, so it’s just going to have to take its chances with the intricate and inventive new show. Let’s hope it’s up to the task; FlashForward could be a lot of fun.

FlashForward airs on ABC, Thursday nights at 8:00 EST. A replay of the premiere episode can be viewed online at

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: