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Why tonight's episode of FlashForward is the best new pilot of the fall season




I've been doing this long enough to know that pilot episodes are not the greatest predictors of series success.

But tonight's debut of ABC's trippy science-fiction drama FlashForward is easily the best pilot of the new season, and could yield the next Lost; a deliciously twisted story based on a single, jarring moment.

In tonight's episode, all of humanity blacks out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds; just long enough to experience a vision of what their life will be like in six months. But like Lost, this is revealed slowly; we start with the aftermath, as Joseph Fiennes' stalwart FBI agent Mark Benford wakes up in an upside down vehicle, wondering what just hit him, then the city, then the world.

Between this series and the network's re-invention of the sci-fi miniseries V, ABC turns a corner in special effects for the television screen, presenting visuals as arresting as any scene from a blockbuster film.


This is important; when you've seen New York swallowed by a fireball in Independence Day across a room-sized theater screen, the aftermath of a calamity which wrecks half of Los Angeles better look realistic. And it does.

After the world recovers from the plane crashes, car wrecks and assorted deaths which you would expect if everyone blacked out at once, the questions really begin. If you see a future that you don't like -- Benford's vision is dangerous and personally tragic -- can you change it? If you don't have a vision, does that mean you're dead? And what could possibly make this happen in the first place?

Along the way, producers tap into the apocalyptic, post-9/11 feeling that has fueled so many recent disaster movies, showing major cities in crisis. Benford, who has a vision of working on why all this happened, makes it a reality by leading the FBI's effort to crack the most important case in human history.

Flash Forward image

The cast includes Courteney B. Vance as Benford's boss, Star Trek alum John Cho as Benford's partner Demetri and two Lost alumni -- Sonya Walger as his wife, Olivia and Dominic Monagan as a genius who appears in subsequent episodes. (See his debut here)

They've even got a way-cool Web site based around a company formed to collect the visions of as many people as possible, called The Mosaic Collective. And here's a clip featuring the producers explaining a clue about the date everyone Flash Forwards to in their visions.

If this doesn't get you geeked for tonight, then you've got no geek in you.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:01pm]


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