Flash Forward – A Flash of the new Lost?

Posted on January 7, 2010

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There are two ways of reviewing ABC’s new series Flash Forward. You can review separately as a singular show, on its own merit. Or you can review it as the baby cousin of Lost, in whose shadow most thriller series will sit for a long while yet. 

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Flash Forward is designed straight from the Lost school of thought: people with problems known only to themselves, unnatural disaster/event happens, suddenly all of these people are connected in some way unknown to them. And we can’t say that as a premise it doesn’t work because millions of Lost viewers (the ones that are still hanging on) will prove you wrong.

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But do we really need another programme like this so soon? I’ve followed Lost from the beginning and am personally glad the series is ending soon because I’ve invested so much damned time in it. It’s a vicious circle in which you want to switch off but at the same time want to know what happens and in the end, the whole cycle just feels like a chore.

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But enough about Lost. We’ll deal with that at the beginning of February. Flash Forward opens with a fairly standard first and second episode. At exactly the same time, all across the world, the entire population blacked out for two minutes and caught a glimpse of their future six months on.

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For some characters this is good news, for some it’s bad. For FBI agent, Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes), it is two minutes worth of clues as he sees himself investigating the phenomenon in his office, and acquires some leads from this dream in addition to some personal information he doesn’t want to face up to, regarding his recovering alcoholism.

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In the rest of the episode we meet the rest of our main characters; Mark’s wife Olivia, a doctor disturbed and possibly intrigued by her own vision; Aaron, Mark’s sponsor; Demitri, Mark’s work partner and a few others who will no doubt be developed as the series progresses.

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Where the series works is in its execution. It asks questions, but doesn’t give too much away. Yet, it doesn’t leave us with that infuriating feeling that Lost leaves us with, where, by the time it gets around to telling us something we’ve forgotten about it. As of yet, there isn’t as much going on in FF, which gives the audience a chance to process information as each episode proceeds.

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Flash Forward has not, as of yet, really defined its genre. Perhaps it’s what makes it universally appealing at the moment – there seems to be elements of lots of different shows hybridised into it: thrillers like Lost and Heroes; medical dramas like Grey’s Anatomy; crime dramas like CSI. It has a bit of everything, which will either help it greatly, or hinder it completely.

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The characters so far are one dimensional enough, though they will no doubt be developed further as the series progresses. The two children of the piece seem to have important relevance to the visions and how the blackouts happened, whilst inadvertently progressing the visions of their parents. As Aaron states quite eerily in episode 2, “We’re all prophets now.”

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The visuals are good for the most part – the scenes of destruction following the blackout are dystopian and effective. One particular favourite moment was in the doll factory in episode 2, a wonderfully creepy looking scene.

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There’s nothing in Flash Forward to necessarily set it apart from any other conspiracy thriller programmes as of yet. But similarly, there is nothing that will necessarily deter a viewer either.

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Unless they can foresee a Lost like series development and don’t feel like investing 5 years of their life to it.

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Flash Forward – Mondays at 9pm – RTE 1

Posted in: Reviews