FlashForward Official Site

The Time:
Thursdays, 9:00 PM, ABC

The Show:

When the entire human race is simultaneously rendered unconscious and subjected to some sort of psychic vision of approximately six months into the future, chaos erupts the world over.  The Los Angeles branch of the FBI is tasked with discovering the cause of the blackout and whether or not there is a chance of a reoccurrence.  Spurred on by the vision of Agent Mark Benford, who saw that he was key in the very investigation with which he now finds himself embroiled, the FBI is quickly discovering that the only thing more than the occurrence itself is the possible conspiracy behind it.  What’s more, it’s becoming apparent that the steps leading to the self-fulfilling prophecy are indeed happening, and the question emerges of whether or not a future that is predicted can be avoided.

The Stars:

– Joseph Fiennes as Agent Mark Benford
– John Cho as Agent Demetri Noh
– Sonya Walger Olivia Benford
– Lennon Wynn as Charlie Benford
– Courtney B. Vance as Stanford Wedeck
– Jack Davenport as Lloyd Simcoe
– Zachary Knighton as Bryce Varley
– Peyton List as Nicole Kirby
– Brian F. O’Byrne as Aaron Stark
– Christine Woods as Janis Hawk
– Lynn Whitfield as Anastasia Markham

The Episodes: “No More Good Days” & “White To Play”

The series opens up with “No More Good Days” and the global blackout and the aftermath, including speculation on who or what caused it.  We find out what various people saw, and one of the characters has dire thoughts because he didn’t see anything.  It’s discovered via video footage at a ball park that there was someone awake during the blackout.  Benford and his wife, Olivia, must deal with personal fallout from their own visions, and thoat of their daughter, Charlie.  “White To Play” continues the nascent investigation by Benford, Noh and the FBI, including establishing the clue board from which Benford draws his leads.  One of those leads takes him and Noh to Utah and a shocking confrontation with a suspect, resulting in a death.  And the character that feared he saw nothing because he’s dead in the future gets a startling confirmation of that theory. 

The Lowdown:

Finally got the chance to catch the first two episodes of this show off the DVR.  The first thing that anyone compares it to is Lost.  I can see the parallels to that show, especially in the last season of Lost with the question of choice vs. fate in regards to time.  That’s the main predication of this show: is a future that’s been revealed inevitable?  Jury’s going to be out on that a while I suppose, but there are more than a few indications both ways.  Self-fulfilling prophecy is prevalent as clues start to pan out exactly as they’ve been revealed on the show so far. 

The premise in intriguing: a global blackout of the entire human population incites chaos and fear.   What’s worse, every person has had vivid, dreamlike glimpses of their futures approximately six months from now.  In some cases, such as FBI boss, Stanford Wedeck, the visions are innocuous (he was on the can); in others, such as Benford, they’re shocking (he’s off the wagon just as guys in masks with guns were coming to kill him at FBI HQ).  And in the case of Noh, they’re nonexistent because he saw nothing, which is leading him to the grim supposition that he’s dead in six months.  For Benford’s wife, Olivia, they’re disturbing, because she sees herself with another man post coitus in the Benford house. 

As pertaining to their daughter, Charlie, the vision is a mystery, because she won’t initially talk about it.  People also confirm their visions by checking with loved ones, friends and colleagues that they saw.  Some people, such as Benford, are afraid of the implications of their visions coming true.  Other people, such as his sponsor and friend, who saw his daughter alive when she had been confirmed dead by the military, are hopeful that that future turns out to be real. 

Benford’s vision contained the most information to date on the event, because he saw that he was working on the investigation into the cause.  Therefore, he and the LA branch of the Bureau take point on the investigation.  Of course, they only take point because he had created a board of leads, which give him the heads up to begin the investigation in the first place.  Hence the self-fulfilling part of the equation.  Said investigation leads them in many directions, tracking down thousands of leads, and at the early stages, it’s difficult to know which details, if any, are major and which ones aren’t.  Obviously they haven’t gotten things quite as squared away that they had in Minority Report yet.  The major hiccup in the whole thing comes when they discover that there were people who weren’t susceptible to the effects of the blackout.  One in particular, the man at the ball park, dubbed Suspect Zero, seemed as if he was expecting the phenomenon and is thus involved.

Getting back to the Lost comparisons, FlashForward doesn’t seem to be looking to repeat some of the mistakes that Lost made in its subsequent seasons by dragging out storylines peripheral to the main mythology.  Within the first half of the show, Benford and the FBI are on the case.  The clue board starts taking shape, and leads are generated and pursued immediately.  Characters are established posthaste and their various situations laid out in quick fashion.  There are still mysteries with various characters – notably Charlie Benford – hinted at only, but generally, FlashForward hits the ground running, which is nice.   In the case of Noh, his theory about his fate is supported by the death of another character who said she also didn’t see anything during the blackout.  Then at the end of the second episode, it runs him over like a Peterbilt when someone (Shohreh Agdashloo) tells him that she saw a briefing noting that he’d be murdered, including the exact date. 

Also, should FlashForward make it past this season (at this point that seems to be a safe bet), the question of timeline comes into consideration.  Will the entirety of the show’s run take place within the six month time span, or will it reach the fateful date of April 2010 and turn some sort of corner?  The whole “Aliens? / God? / Natural phenomena? / Conspiracy? possibilities are also put out there quickly.  The characters address the likelihood of the blackout occurring right at the top of an hour; and when one of the leads points to another suspect, characterized by the pseudonym D. Gibbons, the conspiracy angle starts to take shape.  But what kind of conspiracy of course remains to be seen.

FlashForward is the product of David S. Goyer and Brannon Braga, with Goyer writing and directing the pilot episode.  Blade: Trinity aside, Goyer frames this show up quite nicely and some of the process shots of the carnage and aftermath in LA are quite impressive, likely due to the generous budget of the show.  None of the characters initially grab like those in Lost, and I’m really hoping that Charlie doesn’t become the Waaaaaaalt of this series.  However, I like what I’ve seen so far and am intrigued to keep on going, provided the show keeps the mythology rolling out at a good pace. 

7.7 out of 10