Review: FlashForward 1.1 - "No More Good Days"

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I think it's the announcer. Yeah, I'm pretty sure ABC needs to replace their promotional voice talent because everything I see on ABC that isn't Extreme Dancing with the Makeover Wives, sounds like Lost. It always sounds like everything depends on if I watch this show. Even the sitcoms seem as though something catastrophic is going to happen.

Why is that important? Because it colors the programming. If your introductory hype makes your show sound like something it's not, it unfairly skews your perception of that show. When that guy's voice pimps any ABC show, it always sounds to me like Lost. Plus, Penny Widmore is in it.

Okay, okay. Unfairly, I'm comparing this to another show so let's boil it down to what it really is.

Flashforward is a novel by Robert J. Sawyer. ABC's show is loosely based on this science fiction story in which scientists at CERN run an experiment having the side effect of everyone on Earth going unconscious for two minutes and seeing a future 21 years from now.

FlashFoward starts our fairly regularly and instead of scientists, it's regular people in Los Angeles. We're inserted very deftly into the lives of the Benford family. Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes) is an FBI Agent (again? really? ya really) whose wife Olivia (Sonya Walger) is a surgeon (yes really.) They have a little girl named Charlie who is watched during the day by the nanny. Mark's partner is Demetri Noh (John Cho) and Mark's AA sponsor is Aaron Stark. Aaron is an electrician whose daughter was killed in Afghanistan. One of Olivia's residents is a guy named Bryce, Mark's boss is Stan Wedeck (Courtney B. Vance, from Law & Order: Criminal Intent) and the nanny has a boyfriend.

Mark and Demetri are trailing some suspects when their whole world goes awry. Olivia is in the middle of surgery, Bryce is committing suicide on a pier, the nanny and her boyfriend are about to have sex and Aaron is climbing a pole to reach a power line. The entire world blacks out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds. But the time doesn't go by uneventfully. Mark has a vision of himself drinking in his office in front of a big case planning board with numerous photos, strings, notes and other pieces of paper. He loads his gun and off in the distance, men with laser sites on rifles approach. He comes to and he's upside-down in his wrecked car. LA is a mess and we find out it happened everywhere at the exact same time for the exact amount of time. We also find out, everyone had a vision. These visions are also corroborated with others to give a precise date, six months into the future. Everyone had them except for Demetri, he had no vision, which he thinks means he'll be dead by then. Olivia has one that she's with another man. Aaron has one in which his daughter is alive. Little Charlie Benford says she had a dream in which there were no more good days.

Mark, Demetri and another agent, Janis Hawk, are given the task to coordinate the effort to find out what happened, what people's visions are and if it could happen again. They call the project MOSAIC and start with the same board Mark had in his vision. Already we see the small threads of the envisioned future start to tie together. Mark talks of drinking again, which is the only reason Olivia would leave him. The other man Olivia envisioned is the father of a boy she saved the day of the blackout. Demetri is planning a wedding with his girlfriend but is always thinking of why he had no vision. Aaron is now hopeful about his daughter, but angry that he's hopeful.

And the world went into chaos. Just stop and think for a minute of what would happen if nearly 7 billion people just passed out for two minutes, what would happen. Would would happen in traffic, airports, people on stairs, people in surgery, athletes, people in baths or hot tubs or pools or lakes. I'm not sure the death toll will ever be mentioned, but it wouldn't be surprising to think of something in the hundreds of millions. Granted, most of Asia would have been asleep at the time and would they even notice? So far the show is very good at throwing questions at you.

But where do we go from here? FlashForward was well put together and at least decently written and acted. It follows the same formula as another show I'll try not to mention in that we start with a huge event and then spend the rest of the time digging for answers. Will it be sustainable? Will the answers sate the viewers? Is it a big enough mystery to overcome any story telling problems?

I enjoyed watching the pilot, but I felt more than a couple times that it was trying to be overly dramatic, overly serious. A meeting the FBI agents had with their boss took place in a lobby and they were standing in a circle, I kid you not, 15 feet apart. The only reason you do that is to get nice camera angels. I want to know what happens to the world I live in when we all fall asleep for 137 seconds, not what happens in Michael Bay's world. Give us some realism and some believable human interaction and the show will do well. Give us short scenes in which people lie or withhold information to push the story along and you'll end up looking pedantic.

At the end, Agent Hawk finds something that will keep the show going for at least two more episodes. During a curious (morbid?) viewing of security footage from around the US in which people are dropping like well coordinated flies, she sees a man in a baseball stadium who is not out. While the entire crowd and both teams are unconscious, this man in black trenchcoat and knit cap walks around very secretly like. He's not panicked, he looks like he's trying to avoid something.

Maybe he's trying to run from low ratings.

It's not a bad outing actually. It's one of the more entertaining pilots I've seen. I may be thinking too far ahead to give it much of a sustainable chance. John Cho and Sonya Walger are very pleasing to watch, as well as much of the supporting cast. That voice over guy, though...have him do just Lost please?

Three and a half broken clocks.

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