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The International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Charlotte and Dan review FF Season One

Flash Forward
Creators – Brannon Braga, David S. Goyer
Channel 5 – UK starring Joeseph Fiennes
Reviewed by Dan Bond

As one of only a handful of people to escape the endless screenings of Lost in recent years, I feel I may have conveniently positioned myself with a slight advantage when it comes to Channel 5's latest offering, Flash Forward, the result of a collaboration between a select few writers, directors and producers whose names can often be seen scrolling up the screen at the end of 24, CSI: Miami, Brothers & Sisters, and other such programmes that can often be found lurking in the murky depths of Sky's Channel Listings.

Despite my customary cynicism that I often hold in regards to such programmes, it seemed to relinquish slightly at the thought of watching Flash Forward, in fact, I was beginning to look forward to it. And it seemed I was not the only one, type in Flash Forward on Google and you will be presented with a choice of over 95 million search results.

Based on a successful 1999 novel, Flash Forward is centred primarily around an event in which the world's population all suffer a black-out at the exact same time, all for two minutes and seventeen seconds, during which everyone has a vision of an individual event at the exact same point in the near future, which becomes known as a persons 'flash forward'. An idea of vivid detail and originality, it poses a whole series of questions that beg to be answered.

Enter Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes) and a selection of other FBI Agents who take it upon themselves to locate the cause of the black-out and ultimately solve the mysteries of the world's 'flash forwards'. Notice the operative word here is 'world', not just Los Angeles, the obvious choice seeing as it's where the group are based. By magnifying the scale of the task to immeasurable levels, it begs the question, how do we, the audience, relate to these people and this event? The fact that even the justifications presented within the narrative are never questioned or challenged makes that task even more difficult, and for those of us who expect an element of realism, even to our fiction, we're left largely frustrated by the amount of times, even in only one episode, that certain situations just conveniently fall in to place during such a hectic and confusing period.

Yet, do not discount this frustration on our part as merely a by-product of bad television, for Flash Forward certainly has it's moments. A stellar, familiar cast containing, somewhat refreshingly, a British element to it, are accommodated by a script that's punchy, yet subtle and even witty in places. This adds not so much a comedic perspective, but certainly a realistic and more human dimension to the characters. For example in the scene involving Benford and the character of Stanford Wedeck, in which Wedeck reveals he was actually on the toilet during his 'flash forward' and not in a meeting as he had previously stated to avoid embarrassment. These moments are key in ensuring the audience are not completely lost and disillusioned by the often frantic pace of episode one, that could easily have been to its detriment, yet manages to work, but only just.

For these are all aspects that are to be expected of a big-budget, Hollywood-backed blockbuster of a programme that is aiming to be held in the same regard as the first seasons of Lost and 24. Although I personally have no basis of comparison to the above, it's difficult to avoid hearing of the comparisons, therefore there is justifiably concern in that, without a series of subversive plot twists and challenging content, Flash Forward runs the risk of losing the sufficient momentum to maintain this hype throughout the 22 scheduled episodes, and may become merely a stale series of inevitable events.
I for one am hoping this does not turn out to be the case. The foundations are in place for a captivating series, and this potential, if nothing else, will certainly lead to me tuning in again.
© Dan Bond Oct 12th 2009

Flash Forward Review, Episode Two
Monday 12th October, Channel Five, 21.00
Charlotte Francis

Having never heard of new American sci-fi thriller "Flash Forward," I unusually tuned into channel five, with a keen pair of eyes. And luckily for me, the show opened with a brief summary of the events so far.
Flash Forward, based around Robert J. Sawyer’s novel of the same name, explores the idea that for the same two minutes and seventeen seconds of one particular day, the entire world fell unconscious and dreamt of the future. To be more precise, they dreamed of what they would be doing in six months time, on the 29th April. With a Lost-esque feel about it, you half expect polar bears and black fog to come pounding onto our screens; however such impossible events are thankfully left out.

Episode two steers clear of anything so abstract, and mainly focuses on unravelling the story of a couple, Olivia and Mark (Sonya Wolger and Joseph Fiennes), and their daughter Charley. Olivia, a doctor, truthfully admits to her police detective husband Mark, her confusing dream of being with another man, whilst Mark chooses to keep some of his vision information back.

The hour long drama introduces new characters effectively and step by step. Although you get the feeling the character list is only going to grow and grow along with the twists in the plot, I for one didn’t struggle to keep up which speaks volumes. In my opinion if "Flash Forward" doesn’t follow the example of, at first brilliant, series "Lost" and never allowing the audience any answers, David S. Goyer and Brannon Braga could have themselves a very original and thought provoking little show on their hands.

Whilst the world is in turmoil over their own visions, very typical to America the FBI are convinced of a global conspiracy. They independently set to work on tracking down the one man caught on CCTV at a baseball game at the time of the blackout, awake and looking unsurprised at the thousands of people seemingly asleep around him. Meanwhile, police detective Mark, works on his own theory, and after a few helicopters, a murder and some serious pyrotechnics, the two theories become linked through a series of mysterious phone calls.

The star studded cast in front of and behind the camera include producers from hit TV shows such as 24, Star Trek and Batman Begins, and actors and actresses from successes such as Law and Order, Shakespeare in Love, Coupling and Lost, etc. The experience here speaks volumes, and the swift pace of the action portrays such a professional feel as you would expect from a show with such a C.V. Well worth watching on a Monday evening, well at least for the first series anyway.

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