ABC’s newest addicting TV engagement “Flash-Forward”

Danielle Kincs

Dogs bark, people scream, buildings burn, then suddenly a helicopter falls from the sky.  The highways and roads are littered with thousands of over-turned cars.  There is death and destruction everywhere. The entire world is in utter Armageddon-grade chaos.  There couldn’t be a better series premiere.

Immediately engaging the audience, this series of catastrophic events that began the new ABC television series “FlashForward” was caused by the inexplicable global “blackout.” The entire human race lost consciousness for two minutes and seventeen seconds, resulting in the multiple casualties and the staggering amount of collateral damage (as if our economy wasn’t bad enough already). However, it was not just the blackouts that caused issues, it was what everyone saw during their loss of consciousness that left the greatest effects. During that two minutes and seventeen seconds people saw a vision of their future six months from now: a “flash-forward.”

The “FlashForward” pilot starts with a bang that causes a breathless spiral of events over the following episodes. The story connects characters of all walks of life and how they are responding to their flash-forward, focusing mainly on FBI agent Mark Benford and his determination to find the cause of it.

The show follows Benford and about a dozen other characters who all are trying to deal with their seemingly inevitable future. Some flash-forwards are favorable, while most others are distressing or even disturbing: once-sober alcoholics are drinking again, faithful spouses are committing adultery, and there is a world with “no more good days.” However, some are humorously indifferent–one character was sitting on the toilet the entire duration of his flash-forward, simply for the desperately needed comic-relief.

With a movie star cast and other familiar faces, it is clear that ABC was trying for a new hit with audiences.  Members of the cast include Joseph Fiennes (“Shakespeare in Love”), John Cho (“Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle”, “Star Trek”), Jack Davenport (“Pirates of the Caribbean”), and two “Lost” alumni: Dominic Monaghan and Sonya Walger. Among this misfit cast is the beautiful Gabrielle Union, sure to be easy on the eyes of any sci-fi geek or teenage boy who may happen to tune in.

However, “FlashForward” is as much a drama as it is a sci-fi show. Emotions and guilty consciences run high as the story progresses, as Benford attempts to track down whatever or whomever caused the global blackout: a search that leads him from Nazis (of course), to an eccentric cupcake lady, to an old abandoned doll factory filled with hanged dolls eerily singing the apocalyptic children’s song “Ring Around the Rosie.”

Addicting, philosophical, and somewhat disturbing, “FlashForward” has fragile potential as an up and coming new show, considering the other struggling science-fiction shows such as “Heroes,” rapidly losing viewers because of ridiculous plot twists. Airing Thursdays at 7pm, “FlashForward” deserves the time for viewing (at least on Hulu), and may very well be the most intriguing new sci-fi drama of 2009.

However, “FlashForward” is not for the faint of heart. Rather testosterone-heavy, the show is filled with action, as well as bleak scenes of blood, violence, and death.  The aftermath of the blackout in episode one leaves hundreds dead–a catastrophe perhaps too soon for an audience who has already seen enough tragedy and destruction over the past ten years. But, for all those willing, “FlashForward” is worth a try; it may just become the new show that teenage boys (and girls) come to call their favorite soap-opera.