DVD Review: Catch Up With ‘FlashForward’ at Halfway Point

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CHICAGO – Watching commercial-free episodes back-to-back on DVD illuminates a show’s strengths and weaknesses (while also making drinking games easier to spot from a show’s repetitive moments). “Lost” and “24” were helped amply by their season sets, as their breakneck pace worked even better without a need to push fast forward on a DVR remote. Clearly, someone at Buena Vista Home Video and ABC hopes the same will happen with the ratings challenged “FlashForward,” as the first ten episodes are available in a two-disc set to get fans pumped for the return of the show on March 18th. The plan could backfire.

HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 2.5/5.0
DVD Rating: 2.5/5.0

“FlashForward” started with a bang. The first episode of the show hinted at one of the most promising new shows of the season with interesting characters, a fascinating mystery, and dense, well-written dialogue. Sadly, the show began spinning its wheels pretty quickly. I’ll admit to giving up halfway through the ten episodes that have aired and now that I have caught up with the entire five, it’s clear why. This is a show with tons of potential that rarely lives up to any of it.

As for why we’re getting a “Part One” release, ABC needs to do something to build the buzz. There are rumors that the show is doing well enough internationally that a second season is more likely than the domestic ratings would warrant, but that doesn’t change the fact that viewers are jumping off this ship like rats off the Titanic with only 7 million viewers watching the mid-season finale compared to the 12.5 million that checked out the premiere. I think it was wildly stupid to take so much time off and lose the little momentum that the series had but ABC has been known to make such silly decisions in the past (the way they handled “Pushing Daisies” post-strike was unforgivable and killed that show.)

FlashForward: Season One, Part One was released on DVD on February 23rd, 2010.
FlashForward: Season One, Part One was released on DVD on February 23rd, 2010.
Photo credit: Buena Vista Home Video

In case you’re completely unfamiliar, “FlashForward” opens with a disaster. A man crawls from a crashed car to hear screaming and see that a horrible disaster has happened. We flash back just a bit and get to that moment again, where it turns out that the entire world has blacked out for 137 seconds and seen a glimpse of sixth months into the future (which just happens to coincide with the beginning of sweeps…clever.)

FlashForward: Season One, Part One was released on DVD on February 23rd, 2010.
FlashForward: Season One, Part One was released on DVD on February 23rd, 2010.
Photo credit: Buena Vista Home Video

Of course, if most people were given a glimpse of six months from now all they would probably see is them eating an Egg McMuffin or taking a shower, but that doesn’t make for good TV. No, all the leads on “FlashForward” see major changes ahead.

Lead character FBI Agent Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes) sees men with guns and a complex conspiracy; His doctor wife (Sonya Walger) sees herself with another man and one that she hasn’t even met yet; Benford’s partner (John Cho) sees nothing but blackness; and so on.

Over the course of the next ten episodes, the writers of “FlashForward” play the same game that “Lost” has been playing for years - answering one question only to ask a bigger one in its place. They dole out little bits and pieces of the puzzle, hoping viewers will stay tuned in to see where it’s going. A friend once joked that every episode of the first three seasons of “Lost” ended with someone saying “Look! Over there!” and you had to tune in next week to resolve the cliffhanger. “FlashForward” is cut from the same cloth.

What works about “FlashForward”? The mystery writing is tight enough and the production value looks like a feature film. There are also few shows with as talented an extended ensemble. Sadly, the complexity of the plot has led to a few too many melodramatic moments and the size of the cast has led to a few underdeveloped characters. Joseph Fiennes simply isn’t charismatic enough to carry a major show and every time a secondary character’s subplot gets interesting - like the ones involving Dominic Monaghan’s shadowy presence or Brian F. O’Byrne’s confused father - it’s discarded.

The show most often compared to “FlashForward” is “Lost” but, by the time we had seen ten episodes of that landmark program, we cared so much more about the characters than we do the ones on “FlashForward”. Watching the final five episodes consecutively, I was stunned at how little emotional involvement I had in any of the subplots. I’ll keep watching to see what happens when the show catches up with reality and everyone reaches the date they saw in their flashforward but it seems clear now that this will never be “the next Lost” and should be more accurately categorized as “the next Threshold”.

‘FlashForward: Season One, Part One’ is released by Buena Vista Home Video and stars Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Jack Davenport, Zachary Knighton, Peyton List, Dominic Monaghan, Brian F. O’Byrne, Courtney B. Vance, and Sonya Walger. It was released on February 23rd, 2010. It is not rated.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

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