Flash Forward Review (aka 'the next Lost'?)

This really should've been hot off the press a couple of weeks ago, but work's gotten in the way (and I'm a bit lazy). So apologies to you all but better late than never, eh?

Flash Forward comes from the same US network studio that brought us Lost, and given that we have but one more series (a mere 18 hours *sniff*) of our favourite mind-bending, time-travelling, theory-spinning drama left, ABC have quite shrewdly surmised that now would be a good time to launch a brand new high concept, time-warping, theory-inducing drama to soak up all those Lost devotees soon to be bereft of their sci-fi fix. A canny move you say, as long as they make sure that new show is shit-hot.

It's far too early to guarantee the longer term quality and ingenuity of Flash Forward (and let's remember that even our beloved Abrams/Lindelof/Cuse creation has had its weak spots) but based on the 45 minute pilot, there's good reason to believe this will at least be the big Fall drama of 2009.
The concept is this: the entire population of the world simultaneously and inexplicably loses consciousness for precisely two minutes and seventeen seconds. During that time, everyone glimpses their own future at exactly six months from that point. They awake to chaos and begin the process of trying to figure out what happened, based on everyone's 'flash forwards'.

While clearly shaping up to be an ensemble drama following multiple character stories, the pilot's ostensible main figure is Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes, with a decent American accent), an FBI agent and recovering alcoholic. The disorientating, unsettling opening scene sees Benford come to in an upturned, crushed car, surrounded by shattered glass and twisted metal. Crawling out, he sees a street full of wounded, wailing people before a card flashes up with 'Four hours earlier'.

In contrast to the cold, eerie bluey-grey shades of the first scene, the flashback opens out onto a golden-hued vista of a Californian suburb in the warm morning sunshine. Mark awakes, kisses wife Olivia (Sonya Walger - Lost's Penny Widmore) good morning and feeds his daughter breakfast before heading out to an early morning AA meeting, at which friend and sponsor Aaron Stark (Brian O'Byrne) speaks of his pain at dealing with the death of his Marine daughter in Afghanistan.

Olivia, a surgeon, calls her colleague Bryce, leaving a voicemail asking where the hell he is and demanding he come in to the work and explain himself. Having muted the call, Bryce stands on a pier overlooking the sea, gun in hand, preparing to take his own life.

Mark and colleague Dominic (John Cho) stake out an attractive blonde, a suspected terrorist, while bantering about wedding dance songs. As a high speed chase ensues, Cho reacting with a convincing combination of fear and exhilaration, we intercut with Bryce readying the gun, Olivia scrubbing in for surgery and their daughter's babysitter making out with her boyfriend on the sofa. Suddenly, the screen cuts to a very fast, telescopic montage of images, before manifesting into a grainy, disjointed scene of Mark in his office, working on the case with a mosaic of images on the wall, before fleeing armed intruders.

We're then snap back to the opening scene, with Mark crawling out of his upside down car, briefly moving to snapshots of Bryce coming to lying on the pier, Olivia and her colleagues in theatre with the sound of a flatlining monitor, the babysitter waking up in her underwear...before returning to the street and seeing for the first time, the extent of the chaos – fires, wrecked vehicles, crushed bodies – pure pandemonium.

Having located Dominic and handcuffed the blonde possible-terrorist, Mark heads off to the hospital, past looters, the injured and in one surreal moment, a kangaroo. News footage demonstrates that this hasn’t just occurred in California, or even the USA, but across the entire planet. Back at the FBI office, the pieces are put together, with people comparing their visions and gradually realising that everyone flashed forward to the same time. Some flashes have been hopeful, some comic, some unexpected and some alarming. Aaron has seen his daughter, alive somewhere in Afghanistan, Olivia has seen the end of her marriage, Mark has seen himself drinking again and Dominic has seen nothing at all. And amongst all the footage captured on cameras across the world of those two minutes, 17 seconds, there is one particularly captivating image...

Raising questions about fate, destiny and what we may or may not have control over, Flash Forward looks set to explore some of the themes which Lost has so inventively delved into, while at the same time hopefully taking flight with its own brand of mind-bending science fiction and creating a group of characters we invest in and root for all the while. Plus it looks like there's going to be a fair bit of online activity, and quite possibly some kind of ARG - check this out
The Mosaic Collective

Unusually for the most buzzed about new show from the States this year, Flash Forward has yet to be officially snapped up by a UK broadcaster. Blame it on the credit crunch. However, you can guarantee it will be coming to a screen near you later on this year or early next – and I’d hazard a guess it'll be either Sky One or Channel 4 that do the honours.


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