The Brief: The whole world blacks out and sees two minutes of April 29th 2010. Now they’ve got to deal with the chaos caused by the mass black out, work out what caused it and find out whether they can change their futures and decide whether they want to.
Finally, after a series of mediocre shows, I get to review one that I’m not only pretty excited about, but one that UK audiences get to see just a few days after America. FlashForward is on five tonight at 9pm and it’s definitely worth tuning in for.
There’s a lot of influence from Lost here and it’s being heavily marketed to Lost fans. The problem is that while I started out a big Lost fan, it eventually annoyed me so much I gave up on it, so where does that leave me with FlashForward?
The concept is superb, and the writing of the plot and story elements really good. The show has an excellent pedigree, based on a novel of the same name by Robert Sawyer (who is apparently going to write at least one episode of the first season) and developed by David S. Goyer (co-writer Batman Begins, Dark Knight) and Brannon Braga (exec producer Star Trek: TNG etc). FlashForward has a lot of elegance to the writing and there were several moments in the pilot that had a very impressive polish and subtlety to them.
The only thing that didn’t really work for me were the characters. The pilot is pretty busy with plot, but at the same time there’s sufficient time given to characters and relationships that I would have hoped to have more of a connection with the characters. It’s got a great cast behind it, but I think maybe the writers’ attention was on the plot so much that they forgot to add the same spark to the dialogue. I’m not overly concerned because I think things will settle in, also Dominic Monaghan joins the cast soon and he can usually be relied on to bring spark!
I was also a bit disappointed that there was no real visual style to the pilot, there was nothing like Heroes’ signature comic book feel, CSI’s use of colour, or even the way Fringe does nice effects with the onscreen text. Maybe I ask too much, but I do feel that these days to make yourself a Big show, you really need to make an effort and bring something to the table in all areas. FlashForward has something special in the concept and the writing, but making hammy choices like having slow motion running sequences just isn’t classy enough.
There’s going to be a lot of comparison between this and Lost, I got a very similar feeling watching the pilot, the sensation that this might be something special. It’s got moments in it that make you sit up and pay attention, and if you do that you’ll spot more details and you’ll feel satisfied and rewarded. The problem is that comparing to Lost inevitably raises the question of sustainability. I gave up on Lost when I realised the writers were just making it up as they went along. I’m hopeful though that the ticking clock counting down to April 29th next year means that FlashForward can maintain focus and be worth watching. While the pilot wasn’t flawless by any means, it did its job well enough that I’ll be tuning in for the next few weeks to see where things go.