Starting Thursday night, "everyone in the world will get a flash into their own future." Umm, yeah, thanks, TV marketing gurus, but we can already foresee the future: spending all our time on the couch this fall checking out FlashForward on ABC. The new series has an impressive cast - including Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Jack Davenport, Zachary Knighton, Peyton List - and has critics calling it the next Lost. FlashForward revolves around a mysterious global phenomenon that causes the entire planet to black out for two minutes and 17 seconds, during which people catch a glimpse of their own future in six months' time. Delightfully creepy! But then again, next to shows about barely clad, hard-body lifeguards in L.A., any plot involving time travel makes for pure television treasure. Here's proof.
Compiled by Steve Spears, Times staff writer
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Top 5 time travel shows
1 QUANTUM LEAP (1989-1993): Scott Bakula finds out the hard way what happens when you play games with a time machine. Now he's trapped in the past and forced to change history for the better. (One suggestion: Knock off the inventor of leisure suits.)
2 DOCTOR WHO(1963 to present): An alien known as "the Doctor" travels though space in time in a 1950s police box. Don't scoff. The show, whose latest incarnation stars David Tennant, shown here, and helped by its signature theme music, is the holy grail of TV nerdery in Britain and the U.S.
3 THE TIME TUNNEL(1966-1967): Actors James Darren and Robert Colbert give of an early version of Quantum Leap as two scientists jumping through time. So epic in only one season that even Austin Powers ripped off the spinning time tunnel effect.
4 SLIDERS(1995-2000): Before giving up acting for law school this year, Jerry O'Connell was a fun-loving, wormhole-sliding graduate student in physics who is lost in time. (Wait, we're seeing a pattern here.)
5 BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25th CENTURY(1979-1981): Hunky Gil Gerard is a lost deep-space astronaut whose life-control functions freeze up. It works out okay, though. When he thaws 500 years later, Buck is surrounded by the lovely Erin Gray and Pamela Hensley.
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Top 5 time travel movies
TV doesn't own the trademark on time-bending plots. But toss the Terminators and Star Treks: it's cheating when people in the future jump back to present day!
1 BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985, 1989, 1991): Thanks to the flux capacitor and a time-traveling DeLorean, we can all thank Michael J. Fox for inventing rock 'n' roll. (Thankfully, they didn't use a Ford Pinto.)
2 THE TIME MACHINE (1960): You'll see H.G. Wells again on this list, but nobody can top Rod Taylor's take on the famous sci-fi writer.
3 SOMEWHERE IN TIME (1980): A chick-flick time travel movie! In the hands of Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, anything is possible - even using hypnosis to go back in time to find true love.
4 PLANET OF THE APES (1968): The original, of course. Say it along with Charlton Heston: "You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God d- - - you all to hell!"
5 TIME AFTER TIME (1979): Malcolm McDowell's turn to play H.G Wells, this time searching for Jack the Ripper, who has hijacked the time machine. And he discovers that "fries are pomme frites!"
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Top 5 weekend movies
1 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, $30.1 million
2 The Informant! $10.5 million
3 I Can Do Bad All By Myself, $10 million
4 Love Happens, $8.5 million
5 Jennifer's Body, $6.8 million
Source: Associated Press
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Top 5 prime time TV shows
1 NBC Sunday Night Football (NBC)
2 NBC NFL Thursday Special (NBC)
3 Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick (NBC)
4 NBC NFL Thursday Pre-Kick (NBC)
5 America's Got Talent - Tuesday (NBC)
Source: Nielsen Media Research for week ending Sept. 13