Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pilot Review: Flash Forward

Flash Forward (ABC)
Premiered September 24 at 9pm

Lost” doesn’t return for at least four months, and diehard fans of the show have no idea what to do with themselves until then. Fortunately, ABC has just the right medicine, another time-bending series that should keep viewers on the edge of their seats and salivating for more: “Flash Forward.”

It’s easy to confuse the two shows, especially since recent seasons of “Lost” have featured flash-forward sequences rather than flashbacks. Additionally, Sonya Walger, who plays Penny on “Lost,” is a regular member of the cast, and Dominic Monaghan, a.k.a. rocker Charlie, joins the show midway through the first season. But let’s be clear: this isn’t “Lost.” It’s bigger than “Lost” and all of its conspiracies. The characters aren’t just survivors of a plane crash. On “Flash Forward,” the entire world passes out for two minutes and seventeen seconds, and everyone sees a glimpse of their life six months into the future. It’s hard to find a show with a larger scale than that.

Yet the prospect of sustaining a show that’s about everyone on the planet isn’t daunting. Series creator David S. Goyer (“The Dark Knight”) and crew already have a plan laid out for three to five seasons of the series. “Flash Forward” may well also be the perfect antidote to “Lost,” a show with a clear sense of where it’s going and therefore a less stringent tendency to answer every question with a question. The mystery will be certainly be epic, however, and having the whole world at its fingertips means that “Flash Forward” could easily incorporate new characters at every turn. Some have already likened it to USA’s popular character-heavy science-fiction drama “The 4400.”

Most importantly, the show doesn’t disappoint. The pilot is charged with intensity and is ferociously interesting from start to finish. Those characters already introduced are all intriguing, and the way the show focuses on the flash forwards of not just cops (Joseph Fiennes, John Cho), but also on doctors (Walger, Zachary Knighton), power linemen (Brian F. O’Byrne) and even babysitters (Peyton List) is terrific. The pacing is quick and energetic, and brief snapshots of the flash forwards leave room for much more to be explored in coming episodes while still showing enough to foster interest and excitement. The effects and scenery are great, and this is one show that just looks cool. It’s hard to know what things will actually be like six months from now, but it’s a good bet that “Flash Forward” will still be awesome.

How will it work as a series? The show definitely has a supreme hook, and it’s got enough juice to keep it going for a long, long time. Whether the already-written-out plan for several seasons will help make the show less frustrating or make it even more unbearable since the writers know they can tempt and taunt their viewers remains to be seen, but I’m confident that the show’s appeal should make it worthwhile, and this is a definitely a show with legs that has a terrific story to tell.
How long will it last? The fact that three or five seasons have been written doesn’t mean that ABC has committed to such a successful, long run, but my bet is that it will manage to survive that long. An impressive promotional campaign and the fact that it will draw heavily from the “Lost” viewership will likely mean that it will be a ratings smash, and should be this season’s must successful new show. A renewal should be coming in the next few weeks.

Pilot grade: A-