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FlashForward: Season 1 - Review

FlashForward: Season 1

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

HIGH concept blackout drama FlashForward began life as US channel ABC’s big new hope: a conspiracy thriller with sci-fi elements that was being touted as a potential replacement for Lost.

Based on an idea co-written by David S Goyer, and featuring an international cast of easily recognisable faces (from Jack Davenport to Joe Fiennes), it boasted plenty of potential thanks to an intriguing premise.

Everyone in the world blacks-out at precisely the same moment – for the same amount of time – and awakes to find themselves amidst a state of chaos and confusion.

But as the truth begins to unravel, people realise the black-outs were instead visions of their life almost seven months into the future.

A global race subsequently begins to uncover how lives and events are connected, if the moments people experienced will come true, and whether or not you can change fate. And most importantly, what or who could have caused all this to happen – and why?

Unfortunately, by the midway point of the first season, the cracks were starting to show as the answers seemed less than forthcoming. In the States, audience interest began to waver as the plot of each episode took on increasingly soap opera elements.

The main question driving it, meanwhile, took an age to move forward. Hence, come the show’s mid-season break, the decision was taken to try and freshen things up and make things more focused – a ploy that saw the return of the show postponed for some months while adjustments were made with a view to giving it the chance of a sophomore run.

Alas, this also proved unsuccessful as high production costs coupled with dwindling figures led to the decision not to renew the show for a second season.

FlashForward fans around the globe staged protests, by way of mock blackouts, as other options and networks were pursued, but the show ultimately couldn’t be saved, particularly as some of its stars began accepting work on different series.

Hence, a series that had initially kept us gripped, thanks to a brilliant opening instalment, quickly faded from the memory so that by the time it eventually departed it went not with a bang, but a whimper.

There were a number of problems with the show, however, that just couldn’t be repaired. Audiences keen to see the end of Lost and to have some answers explained may have been reluctant to give their time to another series that might lead them down a similarly confused, ambiguous path.

The characters, too, struggled to be embraced by viewers as readily as some better shows, largely because there were too many of them. Hence, some of the more interesting supporting players sometimes felt short-changed at the expense of the supposedly leading players.

Joseph Fiennes’ former alcoholic cop Mark Benford and his surgeon wife Olivia (Sonya Walger) were too bland a couple to really hold too much interest, while Lost’s Dominic Monaghan lacked a certain something to make his ‘villain’ too credible.

Far more interesting, but under-used, were the likes of Brian F Obyrne’s grieving father, who thought he’d lost his daughter in Iraq, and John Cho’s cop, who had a particularly compelling reason for wanting to be able to change his fate. Neither of these two characters ever seemed to attract as much attention as they deserved, especially early on.

The execution of certain episodes also left a lot to be desired, with the globe-trotting elements and spooky revelations often leading viewers down blind alleys, or failing to convince on any other level than plot contrivances.

FlashForward seldom seemed as tightly plotted as Lost in its heyday, and lacked the sustained tension of a show like 24, which maintained a far better balance of action and drama.

Whether the benefit of a second season would have helped FlashForward to iron out its problems and maintain more of a focus, particularly without the mid-season tinkering that clearly dampened the show’s momentum, is open to debate.

But once the death knell was sounded by studio executives, it’s fair to say there was a sense of relief, if not total closure, that FlashForward had come to an end.

Certificate: 15
Episodes/Number of discs: 21/6
UK DVD Release: September 27, 2010