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FlashForward - No More Good Days (Pilot reviewed)

Flash Forward

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

INDIELONDON singles out notable episodes from current television series for stand-alone reviews. On this occasion we take a look at the pilot episode of FlashForward entitled No More Good Days (as aired on Channel 5 on Monday, September 28, 2009).

What’s the story? A mysterious global event causes everyone to black out simultaneously for two minutes and 17 seconds during which each person sees a glimpse of their lives six months from now, as of April 29, 2010. As the story begins, a character is saved from suicide and others have to face confusing situations.

Was it any good? FlashForward has rightly been dubbed the new Lost as it looks to fill the void left by ABC’s landmark show once it completes its forthcoming final season.

Based on the sci-novel of the same name by Robert J Sawyer, the plot centers around an eerie, chaotic vision of the future after a mysterious event makes everyone on Earth lose consciousness.

And it’s this clever conceit that proves so gripping, even if elements of the pilot episode were more than a little shaky.

But first the positives, of which there were plenty. David S Goyer’s intense screenplay was nicely creepy, full of strands we’ll want to follow and the odd twist that left you with “oooh” moments.

His direction, too, was cinematic in scope, with the scenes immediately following the blackout comparable with most blockbusters in terms of quality – whether it was the shot of a helicopter ploughing into a building and exploding in a scene eerily reminiscent of 9/11, or various sweeps of foreign capitals in various states of damage.

There were even clever nods to Lost – an opening scene involving a disorientated central character emerging from a crash; a surreal moment as Joe Fiennes’ FBI agent witnesses a kangaroo hopping along a deserted LA street (in a nod to Lost‘s polar bear), and the fact that no one quite knows what’s going on.

But FlashForward clearly has a mind and identity of its own and set about posing plenty of questions for us [and its characters] to ponder.

Of those characters, Fiennes’ Mark Benford looks set to carry the burden of responsibility. A recovering alcoholic, his flash-forward showed him back on the booze and fighting for his life against mystery masked gunmen. He had also been working on the mystery surrounding the odd events.

His surgeon wife Olivia (Sonya Walger), meanwhile, foresaw the end of her marriage and a relationship with a new, mystery man (played by Jack Davenport), who fleetingly appeared towards the end of the pilot as the father of a hospital patient.

Also notable was Mark’s partner Demetri Noh (John Cho), the only person not to experience a flash-forward, and who put this down to his impending death; and Mark’s sponsor Aaron (Brian O’Byrne), who believes he saw a vision of his dead wife… only alive and well.

Each character was intriguing enough to be worthy of our attention, even if the nature of the opening episode didn’t necessarily provide all with enough opportunity to fully flesh them out.

Some of the dialogue, too, was laughably naive, especially when placed against the context of the catastrophic events that followed the blackout – you couldn’t help but snigger, for instance, as Mark reassured people that everything would be OK as the devastation unfolded around them.

While in terms of plot contrivances, it feels a little too convenient to have an FBI agent married to a surgeon and is clearly designed to heighten the dramatic tension in future episodes, as both characters attempt to battle high-pressure jobs that will undoubtedly place them on the frontline.

A fear for the future, too, is the Lost effect. For while FlashForward undoubtedly has us gripped from the outset (as Lost did during its opening season), the hope has to be that its creators don’t seek to drag things out for too long without satisfactory answers.

Lost has lost its way several times and shed viewers along the way. Let’s hope FlashForward doesn’t do the same – for on current form, it’s forthcoming episodes promise to offer essential viewing.

What did you think?