A specific, untold 2 minutes and 17 seconds has been taunting future audiences for months now. Tonight, we were finally served up not only a satisfyingly short back story but a ton of future knowledge to come in ABC’s new series FlashForward. The Screen Rant team is in the first row to offer you a review of what is arguably one of 2009′s most anticipated Fall television openings.
The FlashForward series opener, penned by comic book movie writer David Goyer and Star Trek journeyman Brannon Braga, begins with a proverbial smorgasbord of perspective. There were familiar faces: Joseph Fiennes, John Cho (the new Sulu) and Sonya Walger (Penny from Lost).
A quiet, common suburb where a family is parting for the day.
A pier featuring a man that’s lost all hope and can only see one quick, decisive path out.
A church, where a father laments the loss of his fallen daughter at a gathering of those who know addiction all too well.
A living room where two young people share intimate knowledge and feelings, albeit guilt-filled.
Two detectives capturing images of those that would do us harm, sharing details of the evening’s previous commonplace details. Time seems to stand still.
An operating room scrub tub, where two women share gossip, small-talk and all-too-short prep time as they continue a new regular day.
A car chase ensues, time accelerates our sight goes white and blurry and suddenly – fevered dreamlike blackness – blistered visions of time, both past and future?
Screams begin fading into our consciousness, car alarms, frantic screams for help. We witness literal bedlam of a city ablaze, people unsure of what’s going on, a torrent of death and destruction and you are center stage.
All of these perspectives, characters and more will all be collected together and form a grand new program, and I hope that you’ll tune in to Screen Rant to follow along during FlashForward’s first season.
I’ll be reviewing this and future episodes of FlashForward in an ironic and incredibly-appropriate “stream of consciousness” format, giving you essentially what I’m thinking as the show airs. I encourage everyone to send feedback in regard to any of the points below and use this opportunity as a sounding-off point to tell we here at Screen Rant what YOU think about this season’s launch, of ABC’s FlashForward!
– Outstanding effects of one of many beleaguered cities: One of the hardest tasks presented to a production designer in television shows in general, is to create reality – especially in a city. The practical effects used here in this initial offering of FlashForward are some of the best production design I’ve seen in a long time. For those of you that have captured the launch episode, go back and look away from the center focus of the frame and look at the level of detail achieved not just in the city scenes, but each scene. The production designer “paints the picture” of what you see in frame in every minute of the episode and Aaron Osborne has has broken out the big brushes…
Disaster breeds curiosity: Buildings are on fire, smoke is erupting — from inconceivable places as far as the eye can see. Car horns and alarms light the fires of curiosity and make us wonder “what’s happened?” All of these factors instantly draw us into the initial offering of FlashForward and it’s great to see some true chemistry being used to drive this program.
– Two FBI agents: Another great trait from so many other programs is sprinkled into this one. Surely you too can count how many series have become or are true staples of the television landscape? This partnership, and the actors chemistry showcased here is the beginning of something special, and it’s great to be able to note it so early in the series.
– Creepy Knowledgeable Kid Factor: “I dreamt there were no more good days…” This is a decidedly ballsy play for this series. When you insert children into the story game, it could go either way. We’ll see what happens with this series as we go but there were zero glaring gooney after-effects of either of the children inserted in this initial offering.
– Viable Gunplay: It’s something so small, but for those of us familiar with guns, gun handling and more it’s incredibly vital to creating the atmosphere of people that know what they’re doing. The sample I’ll use here is that the FBI agents showcased here, keep their index fingers outside the trigger guard of the handgun. BIG BONUS. The consultants working with the program (whoohoo! they have them!) have their game on which is a great feather in the cap.
– Blaming those in the crosshairs: We have a blonde terrorista in this initial offering. What’s her background? What perspective will she provide? Is she involved or just in the wrong place at the wrong time wearing black? It’s another delicious piece of solid storytelling peppered into what is quickly turning into a tasty recipe.
– Realization of knowing other cities are “hit”: We’ve all postulated that “cities would be hit in the big one.” Who would have ever thought that something global would happen? It’s another great question asked by the writers, that creates the platform for the entire series.
– Assuming that time jumps in a “time travel series” can’t work: I love that they’re going against the grain here with jumping ahead four hours to provide some great detail about what’s happened worldwide, and just expect the audience to take it. We as an audience aren’t stupid and it’s great to see a series that gives us credit and a great un-patronizing series of “explanation scenes” in FlashForward.
– April 29th 2010 – a new Judgment Day? This isn’t only a great way for the writing staff to hopefully ensure that they’ve got a gig for a season, but offers up another “date” that can potentially ride the same wave as Termintor’s “Judgment Day.” Who can forget “August 29th” when the machines become self-aware and launch our missiles against targets in Russia? It’s also a great real-time tie to the launch of the series in what we are truly anticipating – “April” in a few short months.
– Memories engaged but nothing else: In many programs and movies like this, there is such an extensive effort to “explain how things happen and why.” It’s done mostly because executives think that people in general, can’t possibly just accept things “as they are” and FlashForward thankfully provides things – and we accept them. We’ve no idea WHY the 2 minute and 17 second blackout occurred. We’ve no idea how all of these images are still left in our “vision” of what’s to come, but we’re beginning to compile the data to move forward. Period. Strong kudos to FlashForward and the powers that be for taking this route. It speaks volumes to confidence in the audience to “move forward” on their own (and bears a serious resemblance to ABC’s other hit series Lost).
– An outstanding show for fans who want to ‘compile’: Clearly the marketing clan/creators that made the show had the concept of participatory fans in their initial idea crosshairs when creating the program. I can guarantee that – right now – websites are being populated with information from this episode that include screenshots of the “visions”, voice clips of things overheard and more. It’s great to see and links directly to the gargantuan leaps we’re taking in “being connected” in our lives today. Imagine all of the details that will eventually be tracked as the series continues? The disinformation factor of sites that compile details – true and otherwise. The mind reels at the cool fan-based possibilities for this program.
– A commanding leader – from his “throne”: There is ALWAYS room for a teaspoon of humor, and this series takes that action when our new team leader/manager provides HIS perspective of his 2 minutes and 17 seconds – in a meeting* – spent on a toilet – reading a newspaper. It’s informative, it leaves you with a small snicker, and – it’s perfect. It’s another emotion/flavor solicited during this initial episode that works.
– Original music: I’ve been reviewing television and feature films for YEARS and one of the things that continues to be overlooked by audiences (though that’s changing) is an effective soundtrack. Not only does it help to catapult the series, but it also often becomes a character of it’s own. I’m certain that we’re going to see the same thing from this FlashForward soundtrack.
– Not remembering “my dream”: The potential grasp of death for gaining speed Star Trek/Harold and Kumar actor John Cho is a great little insert. He has no memories/FlashForward contents and while it could be because he’s dead on April 30th, I think it might be because he’ll be Sulu in the next Star Trek Movie. It’s a great dark shadow looming over him and it’s more suspense that’s great to have in the launch of this series.
– A flash-forward where a daughter lives: Throwing in another curveball into the “future” for us is the realization that the sorrow-filled, currently-sober father had visions of his now very-dead brave soldier daughter. Another twist that is solid, and a question mark on the next episode and – my guess – for the series in general.
– An admission of being with another man – in their home: While I’m almost never a fan of “soap opera drama” being inserted into programs like this one, we’re able to have that offered here but with a caveat – a wife tells her current husband that – her vision was of another man that she had great intimate affection for. The problem? She doesn’t know who this man is and has no intention or ill will toward her current husband. Thus, the question is postulated: What will happen between now (September) and the strange solemn end of April, 2010?
– A Father and Daughter Together – another forward clue revealed: We see an FBI father granted an all-too familiar friendship bracelet from his daughter that is clearly a piece of future history. It’s another supporting piece of the puzzle quickly put into place in this first 44-minute opener.
– A shadowy figure in black: So everyone on the planet is out – like a light. Hundreds of surveillance videos via – the – eternal surveillance server in the sky, we see ONE DARK FIGURE in black, walking amongst those of us frozen in time. Having not paid attention to the general “hype” of the program to preserve some surprise for the series, I had no idea that they were going to introduce this element. I like it a LOT. The literal specter of someone that wasn’t effected conjures a great question mark for me and makes me want to tune in again.
– A great hour launch showcase: It’s not often that you’ll see an effective 44-minute launch of a television series that delivers as much as this episode has. I was engaged the entire time, I had questions presented that made me want more. Sounds like a pretty simple recipe, doesn’t it? I hope this is a beacon of quality television that we’ll see not only with this series, but with others presented as the fall and new year arrive.
– Solid “FlashForward” without “spoilers” and a “guest who seems to be “LOST”: I almost always shut-down my DVR’d programs before the “next episode” trailer as the end of a week’s episode arrives. I do this mostly because so much seems to get so spoiled and I truly love to have some kind of “barrier” between what happens this week and next. It makes it a lot easier to provide perspective about what I’ve seen and I’ve just seen so many “next episodes”, finales and more ruined by the pieces that trail the meat. This episode provides a very solid “what’s to come” that – while offering details we’re not yet privy to, DOESN’T spoil much of anything and even offers a glimpse at Lord of the Rings/LOST character actor, Dominic Monaghan, whom I’ve always liked and truly welcome in this series as well.
So what did you think? Is FlashForward establishing some of the same kind of look and feel that gives you the same satisfaction as I? Are you seeing holes that will make the new lofted series-based para sail from ABC eventually falter?
We want to know what you think in the discussion area below!