There’s no new network show that has me more intrigued than FlashForward, a drama with a slippery sci-fi premise and a series that ABC has circled (and heavily promoted) with an eye toward a “Lost“-style success. I missed a chance to see the pilot at the Disney D23 Expo so I will be watching it tonight just like everybody else — except for Robert Lloyd, the Los Angeles Times critic, that is. He wrote the review in today’s paper, here’s an excerpt… — Geoff Boucher
Every new television series bets against cancellation. But there is something unusually optimistic about launching a show whose premise is predicated upon a mystery that may not be explained until a specific, stated later date. In “FlashForward,” which premieres tonight on ABC, every person in the whole wide world passes out for two minutes and 17 seconds, during which time they are transported into the future — to April 29, 2010, at 10 p.m. PST, to be exact — right around the time the first season of this show will be wrapping up, if all goes well.
Lloyd also writes…
As in “Lost,” fate is the main course here, raising questions endlessly restated across the eons of time-travel literature. If you know the future, or think you do, what do you, or can you, do about it? Do you inevitably, like Oedipus, fulfill the prophecy by the very act of trying to avoid it? Or is the future, as it is in Dickens — the script makes a significant passing reference to “A Christmas Carol” — unwritten? “Are these the shadows of the things that Will be,” Scrooge asked the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, “or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”
Given the subject, it’s almost appropriate how unusually difficult it is to get a fix on the show. The pilot is melodramatically eventful, though the dialogue can sound phony. But the show could go either way — be kind of great or pretty awful, depending on what comes next, how the writers plan to explain this thing and whether we are going to have any fun on the way to the explanation. (The Robert J. Sawyer book on which the series is loosely based is probably not the place to look for clues.) It’s a decent but not brilliant beginning.
“Lost” worked early on by distracting the viewer with sex and scenery and a shameless indulgence in random eerie coincidence while the writers tried to work out what the show might actually be about. (There is a nice “Lost”-style moment here when Mark [played by Joseph Fiennes] encounters a kangaroo loose on the streets of downtown, after the communal blackout.) But we have seen a lot of doctors and FBI agents on TV — four of the main characters work for the bureau — and spent a lot of time on the streets of Los Angeles. We may need more than parlor tricks to take us out of that all-too-familiar world.
My crystal ball remains cloudy on this matter…
THERE’S MORE, READ THE REST
— Robert Lloyd
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Photo: “FlashForward” stars John Cho and Joseph Fiennes. Credit: Craig Sjodin