“On October 6, the whole planet blacked out for two minutes and seventeen seconds. The whole world saw the future.”
The “FlashForward” principle is sound; people are going about their day-to-day lives. They are chasing bad guys in high-speed pursuits, performing open heart surgery, preparing to kill themselves … all normal stuff, really. Then, from out of the blue, flash! They wake up to a world in terror and turmoil.
That flash, a single hallucinogenic moment, sent the entire population into a comatose sleep where they witnessed the future — at least, their most likely future. And when they opened their eyes, they discovered that the real world had continued to spin without them. Planes fell out of the sky, cars crashed and people died.
All of these are compelling events in their own right, but when coupled with the fact that someone may be responsible for the global blackout, you have a very fascinating idea indeed.
Yet, no one seems to be watching. Or at least that is what the ratings would have you believe.
The premiere was good … very, very good, in fact (mostly because it was written and directed by someone better known for his work on the big screen, and the whole approach comes across as something designed for such a medium), and leaves you with plenty questions that simply must be answered.
The whole outlook is very similar to another ABC series — you might even have heard of it. It’s kind of small and under the radar, not really something you would call a global phenomenon. It’s called “Lost,” and it features a group of survivors on a mystical island (which was possibly created by a Fifteenth-Century prophet named Milo Rambaldi) filled with a monster made out of black smoke, talking dead people, random hatches with technology from the 1970s, time-traveling gizmos, teleporters to the rest of the world, polar bears, statues, atomic bombs, jeeps, yachts, tug boats, lighthouses, housing estates, swing parks, a prison, a temple, diamonds, drugs and the most exciting group of passengers to be on a single plane. Oh, and the island can move.
But did “Lost” kill “FlashForward?” I certainly think so.
Let’s take a look: both shows are ABC Studios productions and pride themselves on capturing the realism of the fantastical situation the central characters find themselves in. Each cast includes an assortment of people who, for all intents and purposes, have a backstory that could rear its ugly head at any time.
So there are some similarities. There are even some theories that both shows could be one and the same — at the time of the flash, Oceanic flight 815 fell out of the sky. However, “Lost” gradually eased viewers into the randomness by starting off with a castaway drama about a group of survivors seeking rescue. Grounded in reality, more out-there elements were introduced slowly. A roar here, an indigenous population there … then finally time travel and all those other hardcore science-fiction elements that have been previously mentioned.
And the ratings tanked. Not so much so that the series warranted cancellation, but the “Lost” ratings have seen a substantial decline over the years with many simply not caring to see how it turns out (I, for one, can’t wait to see how it all ends).
“FlashForward” instead jumped straight into the fantasy world and told the real stories on the back of the global event, i.e. how everyone’s life changed after glimpsing their future.
Expectations are high for this show to succeed, but with the declining reputation of “Lost,” can we be blamed for tuning out a series that looks like it is only going to become more unbelievable as time goes by, with contradictory twists and turns followed by no real explanations? “Lost” made mistakes and included developments that some fans disagreed with and thanks to the comparisons between both shows, it is acceptable not to become invested in another series that could do the same.
Like “Lost,” each week we are treated to a small insight into the life of one of these characters.
Mark comes off as a very likable guy and does possess any of the stereotypical markers that make him a recovering alcoholic and, aside from not wanting to know what his daughter saw in her future, is a fantastic parent (which is actually reason enough to make him interesting). But the two most watchable characters are Dr. Varley and Lloyd Simcoe.
Each of these characters has a story that is very accessible – – a dying man seeking some meaning to his life, and an absentee father coping with a difficult family situation. Real life situations and the flash has only complicated their lives further. Varley’s delivery of hope is a wonderful journey and his foretold meeting with Keiko is something to look forward to … even more so than the proposed second flashforward.
The latest opener, “Revelation Zero,” is a brilliant two-part installment. It delivers some answers, more questions and confirms just exactly what side Simon is really working for.
Aside from that, though, the series becomes more morally gray and that might be too much TV for some people handle. It is smart, sophisticated and crammed with emotionally-charged moments that are worthy of your attention.
Tune in to this series, because unlike most of the shows currently on the go, this one actually deserves a future.
“FlashForward” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.