ABC’s Flash Forward debuted last night, and while I’ll give it another chance, the series premiere was underwhelming.
Flash Forward is about a worldwide event where everyone on the planet blacks out for two minutes and 17 seconds. Except they didn’t actually black out; instead, they saw glimpses of their own future. Some saw good things, but most saw a time when things were worse than ever. As the daughter of the main character (played by Joseph Fiennes) describes, she saw a time where there were no more good days.
Given the theme of the show, there are some vague similarities to Lost, and surely that was ABC’s intent. Their marketing had a very Lost-esque feel, and their preview of the rest of the season reveals that there are several current or former Lost actors on the show. The problem is, the series premiere didn’t amaze me the way Lost did.
Because it’s not nearly as good.
The show reminded me of network shows of old, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Lost proved that you can draw out character development and story arcs at a slow pace and still engage audiences, but the creators of Flash Forward seemed hesitant to do this. The premiere was rushed and cluttered at times, full of little plot holes and missed opportunities.
The show could have benefited from being two hours long, to introduce the characters more strongly before the big event happens. Yes, ABC needed to hook viewers quickly, but after an hour, none of the characters seem particularly fleshed out. Furthermore, they had the opportunity to make an absolutely insane premiere, and insane this premiere was not. Everyone in the world blacks out for nearly two minutes, causing every moving car to crash, things to explode and more. That’s awesome. Shouldn’t you then follow that up with a mad scramble to save people, figure out what happened and more?
The rest of the premiere could have been just this, an adrenaline-fueled thriller where answers are needed and people need to be rescued. Instead, the characters seem to fall back into their normal routines in a matter of hours. Would FBI agents just return to work and chat around a conference table, or would they also be out there helping out an overwhelmed police force? Would the doctors not be working overtime for several days? Would anyone just go home at the end of the day to reflect on things? I doubt it.
What was so frustrating about Flash Forward is that the character actions in the show just don’t make a lot of sense. One doctor, who’s at the beach when the blackout occurs, wakes up to find surfers drowning in the waves. He runs off to help, but the next time we see him – which is presumably only half an hour later – he’s made his way across town, past dead and injured people on every street, to return to work. Wouldn’t you stop and help those people?
It’s things like this that wear you down, and so I walked away from Flash Forward thinking, this is the best they could do? The show has an awesome premise, and hopefully the writers settle down with the second episode. I understand why they needed to do the things they did in the series premiere, but they could have done them so much better.
Only time will tell, and I’ll give Flash Forward another shot or two, but the series premiere was a bit of a running stumble out of the gate.