September 29, 2009

new show review: flashforward

FlashForward was another one on my list of most anticipated new shows. And I know I was not alone, ABC is really pushing this as the replacement for the soon-to-retire Lost. It's a big bite to chew, so let's get into it.

The cast is a pretty big ensemble. I really want to make this more of a review than a recap, but if we have another Lost on our hands, I feel like I need to capture it all, so please bear with me. The first ten minutes of the pilot are spent introducing us to the characters and setting up where they will be when the "flash" happens.

We first meet Mark Benford played by Joseph Fiennes, who most of you probably recognize from movies like Shakespeare in Love. His wife Olivia is played by the lovely Sonya Walger, better known as Penny from Lost. He leaves to spend his day as an FBI agent, and she's a doctor headed into surgery for the morning.

Before work, Mark goes at an AA meeting - enter baggage. After the meeting, Mark chats with his sponsor Aaron played by Bryan O'Byrne (Brotherhood) whose daughter was killed in Afghanistan two years ago. He's one of those guys who climbs telephone poles, which is where he's chilling with the flash happens.

Meanwhile, back and Mark and Olivia's house, babysitter Nicole played by Peyton List (Sterling's wife Jane on Mad Men) doing naughty things with her boyfriend.

Then, we meet Mark's partner Demetri played by John Cho, or Harold of the Harold & Kumar movies. He's younger and chatting about his engagement as they sit on some sort of stakeout. So far, I like their chemistry as partners. Their boss Stan is played by Courtney B. Vance, who is a veteran of cop dramas. And their co-worker Janis (Christine Woods) is manning phones at the office. Mark & Demetri end up in a high speed chase, during which I realize Demetri is not belted. Poor judgement.

Also, there's one guy we don't know who's holding a gun and about to off himself on a seaside pier.


And then everyone wakes up a few minutes later... Mark is trapped under his car, suicidal guy is lying on the pier (alive), Olivia and her staff are all on the floor of the operating room, Nicole was thrown to the floor and boyfriend is on the couch (nice guy), Aaron is stuck hanging from the flag pole.

Chaos ensues as the whole world seemingly comes to. This is followed by a series of really cool effects and explosions - the scenes are surprisingly realistic - as all of Los Angeles is in a state of mass destruction. There's looting and dead bodies all over the place... and oh yea, a kangaroo running around. Televisions reveal that this happened to the entire world.

We see all of our folks post flash.. Mark trying to make sense of things at the FBI, Olivia handling casualties at the hospital, suicidal guy - who we now know is a doctor - showing up to help at the hospital too, Demetri caught the high speed chase suspect, who's apparently a femme fatale terror suspect, Nicole checking to make sure her little charge is okay, Aaron hanging from the phone pole.

It's determined that everyone experienced a waking memory of events that haven't occurred yet, and it seems like everyone's future is consistent. And the future is April 29, 2010 at 10:00pm. They start to lose me a little when Mark, Demetri, and Janis are charged with investigating what caused this, and Janis suggests creating a website where people can log in and report their visions. LA FBI bureau is in charge, really? Flash facebook?

During the course of the hour, we get pieces of everyone's flash dream...
  • Mark drinking again while at work investigating the incident, scary guys in masks are after him with guns
  • Mark's young daughter Charlie dreamed "there are no more good days" which cannot be good for a child
  • Janis was getting a prenatal sonogram
  • Stan was on the toilet
  • Demetri didn't see anything at all, which he fears means he's dead
  • On the other hand, suicidal guy (who we now know is Bryce played by Zachary Knighton) is all happy because he's alive in his dream
  • Aaron eerily sees his dead daughter alive in his flashforward
  • Olivia says she sees herself with another man (uh oh Mark). We find out said man is the father of a young boy Olivia saved that day.

The fact that the future really does come true is confirmed when Mark's daughter Charlie presents him with a friendship bracelet that he remembers wearing in his dream. And the coolest and creepiest scene comes at the end when Janis surfs through surveillance footage and finds one lone black cloaked man walking around during the flash (at Detroit Stadium no less).

There are some really beautifully shot scenes, especially outdoors, which seem to use some kind of CGI, but it's not too unbelievable. I don't pretend to know what I'm talking about on that subject. They also make great use of light and dark and the colors seem very vivid.

For such far-fetched content and dramatic circumstances, the dialogue runs the risk of going totally over the top and ridiculous (the movie Day After Tomorrow comes to mind). But the writers are handling it very well so far. There's enough humor and realism thrown into the drama to make it tolerable.

I'm not as blown away by the pilot as I hoped I would be, but definitely intrigued enough and impressed by the actors (and the crazy previews at the end of the episode) enough to keep watching. I'll probably be blogging about it from time to time to make sense of things.

Anyone else watch? What did you think?


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