Following the success of shows like “Lost”, ABC developed “FlashForward”, another series that centers around a mysterious, unexplained event and the lives it affects. The event in “FlashForward” doesn’t just a affect a handful of people, but the world. In the first episode, everyone blacks out, no matter where they are or what they’re doing, for exactly two minutes and seventeen seconds. But this is more than just a black out, because everyone has a glimpse of their future, six months from that moment, on the same date. It’s the realization that people are able to cross reference their flashes with others, even some people who’ve never met or seen each other before, that leaves the world wondering if this was more than just a bad dream. As pieces of the puzzles from the flash forwards begin to come true, the lives of the main characters are shaken as some of their flashes revealed things they’d rather not occur.
FBI agent and recovering alcoholic, Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes, “Shakespeare In Love”) saw two things in his flash: he was drinking again and he had a wall covered with clues regarding the mysterious case of the global blackout. His wife, Dr. Olivia Benford (Sonya Walger, “Lost”) and daughter, Charlie (Lennon Wynn) also had disturbing flashes that left them shaken and their family on edge.
Still, not everyone saw something bad. Mark’s sponsor Aaron Stark (Brian F. O’Byrne) saw his military daughter, who was presumed dead, alive in his flash. On the other hand, some are unsure of what to make of their flashes, like Demetri Noh (John Cho, of the “Harold & Kumar” films) who saw nothing and Agent Janis Hawk (Christine Woods) who saw herself pregnant.
Still, the show isn’t just about what people saw and how that brief glimpse of the future begins to change their present, it’s about discovering why the event took place and if it will ever happen again. Since Mark saw himself working on the case in his flash, he and the Los Angeles FBI team, under the supervision of Stanford Wedeck (Courtney B. Vance, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”), started an investigation. One of the things they discover early on that leads them to believe someone is behind this global event is footage captured from a security camera at a baseball park. In the footage, everyone blacks out at the same moment, with the exception of one person who walks amongst the stands as if nothing strange was occurring. This and the series of clues Mark saw in his flash forward are the jumping off point for their seemingly impossible investigation, one that will even lead some characters in opposite directions.
As the series progresses, more and more clues to why the blackout occurred are revealed and new, interesting characters start coming into play, offering chilling, sometimes vague responses to the quest for answers. By the fourth episode, “Black Swan” the form of the villain appears and characters we felt almost sorry for are suddenly shown in a far different light. It’s the reveal that someone (or a group of someones) may be behind the world wide blackout that only makes you want to tune in further to learn why.
An interesting aspect of the series is how some characters believe they can change the future because they saw it, while others think the future is what it is. Much like “Lost”, “FlashForward” follows the lives of people who are all questioning the unexplained event, with some clinging to the possibilities faithfully, while others want to ignore it all together. While “FlashForward” is certainly a drama, there are some lighter moments in an otherwise heavy series. For example, when Llyod Simcoe (Jack Davenport), the father of one of Olivia’s patients, is asked “so what’d you see”, he quickly replies “Oh, I guess this is the new, ‘how’s the weather’, isn’t it?”
“FlashForward” is surprisingly gripping as you find yourself wondering why everyone blacked out and why they all saw the same day in the future. The show does a fantastic job of adding in truly eerie moments that only elevate the sense of something disturbing taking place. The performances also elevate the series from being average to truly engaging. Cho is especially great as Demetri who’s tormented by what seeing nothing in his flash means. Fiennes and Walger are a believable pairing who you care about, and both give performances that help carry the show with great depth. Vance also stands out in his role as Stanford Wedeck. A surprise to the series is other “Lost” alum, Dominic Monaghan as Simon Campos, who plays a character quite the opposite of Charlie from “Lost” and does it exceedingly well. All in all, “FlashForward” has wonderful actors who know how to deliver believable performances and a solid, well written idea to support their roles. The DVD release is of the first ten episodes of season 1. The second half of season one will start in March.
VIDEO: "Flash Forward" is presented by Buena Vista Home Entertainment in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is quite good, as the image remained crisp and well-defined for the majority, with only a couple of slightly softer moments seen here-and-there.
Some minor edge enhancement and a couple of slight artifacts were visible, but the image was almost entirely free of issues. Colors appeared natural and accurate, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: "Flash Forward" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The presentation generally remains forward-oriented, as one would expect from a drama like this. Still, surrounds occasionally offer some ambience and other tidbits. Audio quality was certainly satisfactory, with crisp dialogue, music and sound effects.
EXTRAS: “Creating Catastrophe: The Effects of a Global Blackout” This is actually a pretty impressive look at the time, work and effects that went into creating the Los Angeles blackout event on the highway. From 200 extras and actually shutting down six lanes of traffic, filming the first episode was clearly no small feat. Interviews with stunt coordinators, visual effects supervisors, producers and more help draw a picture of the challenges involved in making the scene come to life. At seven minutes, with footage from the actual filming site, to the steps taken before filming began, it’s worth a look.
“FlashForward: A Look Ahead” is a five minute look at what’s to come next on “FlashForward”. Also included is a trailer for the second half of season 1.
Final Thoughts:“FlashForward” is surprisingly gripping. With great performances, an interesting idea and writing, the series is definitely worth a look. Do keep in mind though that the DVD set is only the first half of season 1, with ten episodes. Recommended.