Flashforward: The Complete Series
Looking over some of the finer points of Flashforward, ABC's first big push for a water cooler sensation to carry them into the post-Lost era, it's easy to see how some people dismissed it as simply Lost-lite. After all, it's very premise is born out of the same narrative device that saved that show from its own decadence once audiences grew tired of the redundant off-island flashbacks the episode format required. Like Lost the Flashforward ensemble is an eclectic mix of multi-national misfits, struggling with their flaws and battling with their demons, fronted by a bit of a self-martyring do-gooder in the Jack mold, in this case FBI Special Agent Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes). Like Jack he's got some problems with the sauce, and, like Jack, he's got some crippling abandonment issues. This is without mentioning Lost alum Dominic Monaghan and Sonya Walger who are also on the cast roster.
That said, those able to look past the obvious similarities will likely find themselves sucked in to the show's high-concept premise (the entire planet blacks out for 137 seconds, during which time each person glimpses a vision of their future six months on) and compelling investigation hinting at a vast, sprawling conspiracy. Of course, this being TV, no one's vision was dull. People who work in a diner, whose vision of six months hence was of them still working in a diner, are conspicuous by their absence. No, it's all radical, life-changing, Earth-shattering stuff. For some, like Dr. Bryce Varley (Zachary Knighton), who at the time of the blackout was holding a gun to his own head, it's a new lease on life. For others, like Benford (who saw himself drinking again), wife Olivia (Walger, who saw herself with another man), and partner Demetri Noh (John Cho, who saw nothing, leading him to believe he'll be dead) the event has them shaken to their very core.
Some of the characters are more rounded out than others. Benford (like Jack) is set-up as the primary hub of activity in the early going, and (like Jack) is easily the least interesting in the show. Like Stephen Baldwin to brother Alec, Joseph Fiennes might share Ralph's name but sure doesn't possess his acting chops, and at is much of the time so one note he might as well be a cowbell. On the other hand it's great to see Courtney B. Vance cut loose, hamming it up in a spruced-up variation on the over-angry police captain persona as the FBI director in-charge of mosaic, the jigsaw-puzzle investigation of the blackout. Bristling with intrigue and bursting with Iranian intelligence operatives, Chinese hit-squads, scheming US politicians, and hopeless, terminally ill romantics, it's when the show broadens out to the breadcrumb trail that it really hits its stride.
Meanwhile, the narrower focus on the individual dilemmas is less successful, as the writers have somewhat fallen into the very trap these characters hope to avoid, letting their visions define them. Quite honestly, the prospect of watching Olivia stare into the middle-distance as she contemplates her marital situation for one more second is enough to drive the show's staunchest fans to tears.
Placed on hiatus after ten episodes the show was always doomed to cancellation, which is a crying shame because the back-half of the episode run addressed many of the show's initial problems; introducing a villain, moving past the designated date of the original blackout, and setting a new course of potential speed bumps that could have ran for a very long time. As it is, we have to be content what little we have, and, as with so many shows before it (Firefly, American Gothic, Happy Town) wonder what might have been.
DVD Special Features:
Extras on this complete series DVD set are extensive, with seemingly every piece of footage they had – behind camera and front of it – somewhere on one of these discs, because, really, what else are they going to do with it? Architects of Destiny outlines the overall concept of the season one story arc. Meet Yuko introduces us to cast member Yuko Takeuchi, who apparently is a massive star in Japan. There is also extensive behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, bloopers, deleted scenes, pontificating on where the series might have gone in it's second season and a featurette devoted entirely to why there is a kangaroo bouncing around on the set. Seriously.
Starring: Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Jack Davenport, Zachary Knighton, Peyton List, Dominic Monaghan, Courtney B. Vance, Sonya Walger, Christine Woods
Created By: David S. Goyer & Brannon Braga
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