FlashForward (Part One, Season One) – DVD Review

FlashForward should be the show poised to take over the bizzaro/sci-fi/mystery throne of Lost once that great show disappears. In fact, there is more than one allusion to Lost throughout the first ten episodes of FlashForward, which seems to suggest some sort of connection. But it’s clear the connection isn’t one of quality – at least not yet.

The premise goes like this: everyone in the world passes out one day and they stay passed out for two minutes and seventeen seconds. During that time, they all have premonitions of a day six months in the future, though these are just unclear snippets, like dreams. Some, though, see nothing.

It’s up to FBI agent Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes) and his partner Demetri Noh (John Cho) to get to the bottom of this mess and figure out what’s going on. Fiennes had a vision about the case itself – he actually saw himself working on it and saw snippets of evidence. But he also saw himself drinking and guys with guns approaching his office and of course he has no idea what it all means. Demteri’s vision was even more disturbing – he saw nothing. What does that mean – that he’s not going to be around?

The show does a lot of good work with this dynamic. Some folks desperately want their visions to come true, while others will stop at nothing to keep them from coming true. Between any two characters, the visions coming true could mean happiness for one and death for the other. Relationships begin to fray. There’s great tension. And it is clearly a global crisis that must be dealt with.

But for some reason, Mark and Demetri continually meet resistance from their superiors, usually citing the fact that the entire case is predicated on a ‘vision’. And sure, it makes sense that at least one person would bring that up. But people – everyone in the WORLD just passed out at the same time and had visions of the future. I think maybe the FBI could spare at least two agents to pursue the whole prediction thing, especially since Fiennes’ vision was of a bulletin board covered in evidence ABOUT THIS CASE.

This is one of two fatal flaws in FlashForward. It seems like obstacle enough that our heroes are dealing with a phenomenon they have zero precedence for and must feel their way blindly with no hard evidence. Why must they also have the close-minded authority characters who block their way? It always feels contrived – sort of like on 24 when someone doubts Jack Bauer on anything after he’s saved the world seven times. Even if this conflict is true-to-life, it is no longer entertaining. It’s hacky.

The other big flaw is how little the show seems to trust its audience. Plot points are re-hashed and re-hashed, over and over, as if the plot might blow your mind if you don’t have some exposition every couple of scenes. Well, the plot isn’t that mind-blowing and it’s actually pretty easy to keep up with – especially in this post-Lost world where we’re used to seeing polar bears attacking our heroes on a Pacific island and that’s all we get to run with. We can handle mystery. Still, FlashForward characters keep explaining what happened – everybody passed out and had visions – and how important and strange it is. This kind of makes it feel like maybe – just maybe – the creators are vamping because haven’t yet come up with exactly where they want to take this story. And that, more than anything, makes me not want to watch.

If the series can straighten itself out after these first ten, stay a step or two ahead of the audience, then this could shape up to be a very engrossing show. It would be shame if it couldn’t, considering how promising the premise is and how rich these characters are. As it is, though, it feels like Lost lite and that can’t be a good thing.

“No More Good Days”, “White to Play”, “137 Sekunden”, “Black Swan”, “Gimme Some Truth”, “Scary Monsters and Super Creeps”, “The Gift”, “Playing Cards with Coyote”, “Believe”, and “A561984”

The show is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and as you might expect, it looks beautiful. ABC has put a ton of money into this sucker. The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround with French and Spanish subtitles. The sound work is also top notch.

Creating a Castrophe: The Effects of a Global Blackout – A short about pulling off the big opening of the series, what with the world falling apart and all. Somewhat interesting, though if you guessed that it was mostly digital effects, you’re right. (7:05)

FlashForward: A Look Ahead – A peek at the last half of the season, or possibly just the next episode. Either way, when things are condensed like this, they sure play better. Kind of makes me want to see it. (4:48)

Could – A commercial for the next half of the season. (1:30)

FlashForward is a show with a great concept that is ruined by poor execution. If the makers would trust the audience to follow along, this could be a strong contender for the ‘Lost’ throne.

ABC Studios presents FlashForward. Created by: Brannon Braga, David S. Goyer. Starring: Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Sonya Walger, Brian F. O’Byrne. Running time: 430min. Released on DVD: February 23, 2010. Available at Amazon.com.

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