LOS ANGELES “" Imagine going about your daily routine. There’s nothing much going on; either you’re taking the kids to school, stuck behind an office desk, or driving back from your lunch break.
Without warning your body buckles down. You’re swimming in darkness until images flood your thoughts in rapid succession, and slices of your life are put into motion.
Just when you think you understand what’s going on, your eyelids snap open, and you awake to a world engulfed in chaos.
Equally as disturbing is the knowledge that within that brief and shattering moment, you just caught a glimpse of your own future.
Would you change or surrender to it? And more importantly, how did this all happen?
The search for answers begins with ABC’s upcoming “Flash Forward;” a suspenseful drama meets (somewhat) science fiction series to air this fall. The show’s premise details the aftermath of an unexplained event where people all over the world lose consciousness simultaneously. Matters complicate themselves further when everyone awakens with visions of the future.
Currently, the credits for the TV series reads like a fanboy or fangirl dream. This includes producers David Goyer (co-writer of “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight”), Brannon Braga (“24,” “Threshold”) and Marc Guggenheim (“Brothers & Sisters,” “Eli Stone”).
Equally as impressive is the ensemble of talent such as Joseph Fiennes, Sonya Walger, Peyton List and John Cho, to name a few.
Recently Blast was invited to a press screening of the pilot in Los Angeles; an assignment which left this reporter curious and excited as all I had to go on were a couple of promos before seeing the pilot episode.
Let me also preface that I am sworn to secrecy about the details concerning the pilot. Although I know it’s going to be a long summer until it airs, it is certainly worth remaining spoiler-free. And speaking from experience, less is definitely more going into watching this show.
This of course helps when the actors are simply stellar. I have to give kudos to those in charge of casting this show. The sheer mix of actors whose range of talent varies from film to screen and theater just play to one another’s strengths. I’m more than certain viewers will be in store for a pleasant surprise.
What can be discussed is the overall feel of the show. It’s very clear there is a conscious effort from the producers to afford audiences more than the benefit of the doubt. As someone who loves a good story on TV sans the reality train wreck, I am relieved by that fact.
This brings me to a point where I feel the need to tackle general concerns about the use of time as a plot device. Whenever time is manipulated in any way, there develop issues about continuity. It’s a precarious rope to walk as far as storytelling because it requires not only accuracy but clear explanations that work within the rules of its plot. Failure in even a small way can distract the audience, generate major plot holes and ruin the dynamic of the show. Fans tend to either suspend their disbelief or outright hate it.
Luckily for us, Guggenheim and Goyer are aware of this challenge. In the post-screening Q&A both producers spoke candidly about their enthusiasm for the show’s premise. They were also none too shy in expressing their grievances when good shows don’t allow their characters to ask the more obvious questions during a crisis.
Fortunately, viewers can rest assured when it comes to “Flash Forward.” The series in itself is unique despite its ominous tone; a noticeable factor in its promos, causing online fans to draw comparisons to ABC’s own “Lost” and NBC’s “Heroes.” However, based on the released material on hand and what I’ve seen of it, there are valid arguments for why “Flash Forward” on premise alone will garner as insatiable a fandom as its contemporaries.
Whereas “Lost” and “Heroes” work within the challenging constructs of the island and super-genetics, “Flash Forward” presents itself more of the philosophical question: Is there a certain fate outside our inevitable death? Or is free will an illusion?
They’re some pretty heavy questions, but they are the kind of questions which appear to work more in favor towards this premise because it’s more of a global effect rather than a limited central group of people.
While “Lost” still remains beloved amongst fans, as well as intriguing and riveting, there have been lags in the past too obvious to ignore for long-time viewers. And while “Heroes” deals with the same “global” themes of “ordinary people with extraordinary abilities” the series unfortunately struggles balancing the intrinsic conflicts between the core characters and the science of the show. In effect, most “Heroes” fans were left with convoluted time warps and doomsday plots. While those ideas keep you at the edge of your seat, the consistency of characters that audiences grew to love during its pilot season seemed lost.
“Flash Forward” has the advantage of working with not only innovative writers and producers, but the cast itself, once again, set the series off to a great start. Sometimes, the success of a show relies on the group dynamic. The direction of this pilot definitely allows each actor to play upon their strengths in an effortless way.
I know I have pretty much given my approval, but I do so with several things in mind. The concept of time warps and butterfly effects are nothing new; if anything, it raises the standard for any series attempting this angle. And yes, the leading characters are not uncommon as far as archetypes. And there were some more predictable moments, which is natural if you watch enough television. There will be some scenarios where, if someone missed an episode, they could get lost, yet with the availability of watching episodes on the network sites it shouldn’t be too big of a hassle if you’re interested enough in it. So, essentially, for some viewers it may appear generic because of its familiar outline.
But here’s my stance. I learned long ago there is no such thing as an original idea. What matters most is how you choose to tell a story, and finding ways to make its premise relevant to an audience. What will make “Flash Forward” hit a chord with viewers are the same reasons which incidentally made “Heroes” and “Lost” successes in their pilot seasons: the characters.
So for those who want to set a date for the show, remember to tune in on ABC Thursday at 8 p.m. eastern/7 p.m. central September 24 when the series makes it debut.