TV Review: ABC’s ‘FlashForward’ Could Easily Be the Next ‘Lost’

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CHICAGO – Do you think that if the creators of “Lost” were allowed a glimpse at their futures when their hit show began that they would have seen a montage of all the series that it would inspire? The latest is ABC’s clever and potentially addictive “FlashForward,” a strong genre entry that needs a better time slot and some serious buzz to become the next “Lost” and not the next failed wannabe, but has the potential to be a real breakthrough hit. Television Rating: 4.0/5.0
Television Rating: 4.0/5.0

I’m sure the creators of “FlashForward,” including David S. Goyer (writer of “Batman Begins,” “Blade,” story credit on “The Dark Knight”) are tired of the “Lost” comparisons, but they’re inevitable and impossible to ignore - a multi-layered cast, a supernatural mystery, a show that uses jumps in time as a storytelling device. And the density of the writing on the show is both what makes it interesting and what could doom the series. For every “Lost” there are a few shows like “The Nine,” series that viewers didn’t commit to every week and that left fans unsatisfied by their early demise.

Photo credit: ABC/Ron Tom

Before we get into what “FlashForward” is about and why it’s one of the most promising shows of the new season, I’d like to speak directly to anyone with power at ABC or any of their friends or relatives. MOVE this show. 7pm on one of the most crowded nights of the week could be a kiss of death for this series. The fact is that “FlashForward” is going to appeal to a young audience, the same fans who write “Lost” fan fiction and I know for a fact that a lot of those people are committed to “Bones” or “Survivor” and the new shows “Community” (which is moving to 7 in a few weeks) and “The Vampire Diaries” have already had strong premieres. Why stick “FlashForward” into such a ridiculously overcrowded time slot. Find an open 9pm slot and put it against “The Jay Leno Show”. This kind of dense, detailed fictional writing is the anti-“Leno”.

Photo credit: ABC/Ron Tom

“FlashForward” even opens like “Lost” - 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.)

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.

The premiere of “FlashForward” is crammed with a bit too much plot. It feels like the creators are worried they may not have long on the air and they hit the ground running as fast as they can. We’re introduced to a dozen characters, the main event happens, everyone quickly realizes (too quickly) the connections, and the episode’s final scene leaves audiences wanting more.

Photo credit: ABC/Ron Tom

Because of the “crammed with content” feel of the premiere, it’s hard to tell exactly what “FlashForward” will be. Will every episode be an action-driven one like the premiere? It’s doubtful. The smoke monster may have been cool but fans fell in love with the characters on “Lost” as much as anything else and that’s what’s going to drive the success or failure of “FlashForward” and it’s impossible to grade it with such a plot-heavy pilot.

The potential is definitely there. Fiennes is well-cast, Cho is interesting, and Brian F. O’Byrne has been a great character actor for years. And the production value of the show is ridiculously impressive. The opening scenes play like a theatrical-caliber action film. And I can’t stress enough the excellence of the final scene, one that will almost certainly force anyone who makes it that far to tune in next week.

David S. Goyer and Brannon Braga have been here before. They tried a supernatural mystery called “Threshold” a few years ago and it never caught on. Will this be the next “Lost” or the next “Threshold”? By the time the show catches up with its characters in April 2010, we’ll know for sure.

‘FlashForward,’ which airs on ABC, premieres on September 24th, 2009 at 7PM CST. It stars Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Jack Davenport, Zachary Knighton, Peyton List, Dominic Monaghan, Brian F. O’Byrne, Courtney B. Vance, Sonya Walger, and Christine Woods. It was created by David S. Goyer and Brannon Braga. content director Brian Tallerico

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