When it premiered last fall, FlashForward was considered to be one of two potential replacements for the departing Lost – at least in terms of epic, serialized storytelling. The series premiere set out the basics – for two minutes and seventeen seconds, everyone on the planet lost consciousness. In that time, they experienced visions of where they would be in six months time.
In my review of the premiere, I wrote, “While the premise of the series might seem to limit its shelf life, there are good people involved – and they were smart enough to hire Mr. Sawyer as a consultant. Put that together with a premiere that is superbly put together, with fine performances and a judicious mix of action and intelligence, and the result is one of the best hours of television ever made – and the best pilot of the fall season… in a walk.”
Since then, the series has taken far too much time to give us too few reasons to watch. Sure, we’ve learned interesting things about most of the regular cast of characters – and the question of whether the future of the visions is fixed has been dramatically answered [the answer being no]. Unfortunately, the pacing of the premiere has rarely been achieved since and most of the eps have tended to wallow in the emotional morass that exists between FBI Agent Mark Benford [Joseph Fiennes] and his surgeon wife, Olivia [Sonya Walger] and the manner in which Benford and his partner, Demetri Noh [John Cho] flout authority to follow up leads that don’t really seem to add up to much.
Whenever they catch a break – the special tattoo on Benford’s future would-be assassin, for example – it’s defanged almost immediately, or turned into a needle in a haystack. Even the introduction of Dominic Monaghan as Simon Campos, one of the scientists who may be behind the blackout, has added only a marginal amount of energy to the storytelling.
Even the pre-Olympics cliffhanger, Buddha in the Ruins, felt less than frenetic – which, in a series of this sort, is probably not a good thing. It really isn’t until the last act that things come to a head in an unexpected way. That last act, coupled with ABC’s promos [“There’s going to be another blackout”] definitely sparked enough curiosity in me to be there for FlashForward’s return – but they’ll have to have picked up the pace [and give Benford another mood besides dour] to keep me going.
Also, just a note to ABC Studios – twelve minutes of features is pretty sad, especially for a series that was touted as a possible successor to Lost!
Features: Creating Catastrophe: The Effects of a Global Blackout [seven minutes on creating the effects for the five minutes after the blackout]; FlashForward: A Look Ahead [four minutes of upcoming scenes under a layer of MOR music], and Cloud [a ninety-second expansion of the thirty-second spot ABC is running for FlashForward’s return – which incorporates much of the A Look Ahead piece].
Grade: FlashForward: Season One, Part One – B-
Grade: Features – D
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