Whenever normal people hear the phrase “science fiction,” they run for the hills and never look back. I am not one of those people, so it was with great pleasure that I accepted an invitation to see an advanced screening of the pilot for ABC’s new series FlashForward at the Arclight in Hollywood, followed by a Q & A with the producers and much of the cast.
Like the brilliant Lost and Battlestar Galactica before it, FlashForward is not your typical sci-fi and it should appeal to geeks and normal’s alike. The makers of this show understand that it’s human drama and not cool visuals that make for compelling science fiction. Set your phasers on fun and read more after the jump!
FlashForward (yes, they chose to put the two words of the title together just like the late, not-so-great NBC sci-fi series SeaQuest, DSV) provides a chilling look at what would happen if everyone on the planet blacked out at the exact same time. What caused humanity to black out for two minutes and seventeen seconds? Who or what is responsible for this? And why did everyone have a precognitive vision of the same night: April 29, 2010 at 10:00pm? These are the central mysteries of the show and the person trying to figure it all out is FBI agent Mark Benford (good to see you again, Joseph Fiennes!).
The suits at ABC have made it clear they want this show to keep fanatics of Lost busy until the premiere of its sixth and final season in January, but they’ve stressed they don’t want comparisons between the two. However the producers seem to have done all they can to invite comparisons, from the casting (Sonya Walger and Dominic Monaghan are Lost alums) to an Oceanic Airlines billboard in the background. Even the first few minutes of the pilot are almost exactly like the Lost pilot.
Apart from these superficial similarities, FlashForward-expertly adapted by David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight, Blade trilogy) from the novel by Robert J. Sawyer-is very much its own creation. Even the novel on which it’s based is only used as a springboard for the events on the show. The explanation for the worldwide blackout is also different than that of the book so there’s no point in reading the end for answers. D’oh!
As expected, the cast remained tight-lipped regarding specifics on the future of the show in the Q & A. Whenever they were asked a question they would first look at Goyer who would either shake or nod his head to let the actor know whether it was ok to answer the question. As he said, “I have them well trained.” Goyer himself revealed a few interesting tidbits regarding the show and here are some the best:
- Super sexy Gabrielle Union (Bring It On) will start her run as Jon Cho’s (Harold & Kumar) fiancée in episode 3.
- Nothing is arbitrary. Everything and everyone shown is there for a reason.
- The audience will not be tricked. For example, if a person lies about his or her flash forward then it will not be shown. Any and all flash forwards shown onscreen are real.
- “Big moves” (major revelations) that were originally slated to appear in episode 19 were moved up to episode 11 “because it just made more sense.”
- The show has been planned out for five seasons-including the series finale.
It’s rarely a good idea to judge a show based on the pilot, but FlashForward certainly met my unreasonably high expectations. It was also an unexpected delight to see terrific British thespians Alex Kingston (Moll Flanders, ER) and Jack Davenport (Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy) pop in for brief cameos, though the nature of their respective flash forwards promises they’ll be around throughout the season. Also welcome is Joseph Fiennes, making his first foray into American television after taking time off from films to hit the London stage. (On the way home from the screening, my idiot friend literally drooled on herself talking about the sweaty, shirtless Fiennes. Not a pretty sight.)
Speaking of drooling, the potential this show displayed left me salivating at the prospect of things to come. The sheer possibilities of where it could go gave me serious brain crampage. . .and that was just from the first episode. Towards the end of the episode an FBI agent is going through surveillance footage which showed people dropping like flies at the same time. It’s an indelible image that left the audience gasping. The writers also knew exactly how to end the episode to ensure viewers will come back for more. It worked. I’m completely hooked. Bastards.
As Comic Book Guy would say, land-speeder, do not Bantha, to your nearest television on Thursday, September 24 at 8:00pm for the series premiere of FlashForward on ABC. You won’t regret it.