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FlashForward: No More Good Days (Series Premiere)

“You’re worried your future is going to come true. I’m worried mine won’t.”

Everyone in the world blacks out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds. Only they don’t all black out: they experience themselves six months in the future. When they wake up, chaos: drivers lost control of their cars, surgeons lost patients, helicopters lost their bearings and crashed into buildings.

There are two big questions that permeated this series premiere: what’s going on? And what does it mean? A few characters saw something so wonderful that it seems impossible; others saw what seems like the end of their lives. And some people saw nothing at all, which might mean there’s nothing to see.

FlashForward remains relatively faithful to the basic premise of the book (well, the FlashingForward part), but really seems to be taking things in a new and exciting direction. The characters, at this point, are defined by one or two quirks: Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes from Shakespeare in Love) is a recovering alcoholic who loves his wife; Bryce Varley (Zachery Knighton) was a suicidal doctor who now has hope for the future; Stan Wedeck (Courtney B. Vance from Law and Order: CI) is deadpan and doesn’t take prisoners. The emotional core of this story is really how these characters are grappling with the incredible.

The genre/SF core of the story is precisely that incredible event. “What happened?” is still up in the air, and the mystery is made deeper by the last-act reveal that at least one person was awake during the FlashForward—a pretty good sign that the answers to the questions will not be the same as they were in the book. And also a pretty good sign that this won’t be a show of stand-alones and one-offs. Hooray for mythology!

But even as the impossible happens, life goes on. Mark and Demetri (the awesome John Cho, who did a lot with a little, performance-wise) shook off their confusion, saved people, and captured the criminal. Olivia (the luscious Sonya Walger—Penny from Lost) went back to saving lives. This felt very emotionally honest to me, especially since FBI agents and doctors are exactly the people whom one would expect to shine in an emergency like this.

Obviously, quite a few shows are shot in LA (although not as many as local politicians would like). But this episode really felt like LA, from Mark and Olivia’s Simi Valley home to the Venice Beach Pier and various recognizable street shots, including traffic gone horribly wrong on the 101/110 interchange downtown. Even though all these places are in the greater LA area, they’re very far apart, which made the settings feel both universal and very personal. For this Angelino, at least.

Having said that, in places the cinematography was a bit too much like that movie Crash (or some Soderbergh films, as well as a number of other things) for me. There were the blue scenes, the yellow scenes, the warm scenes, and the washed-out scenes. LA is definitely a place with incredible light, and incredible variety in light, but the overuse of blue-scenes has always irked me, as that’s actually rather rare in LA, and quite localized to the 20 minutes after dusk within 10 miles of the ocean in temperate weather. But there were other neat allusions, too: the opening shot was very Lost-ish with the whole in medias res thing, and very Godfather-ish with the oranges.


• The big puddle of water that Mark walked through might have been a sinkhole. They’ve been popping up (or down, I guess) all over the place in LA this month.
• That was a very CGI kangaroo.
• There was a great Lost Easter Egg when Mark and Demetri were staking that guy out.
• The injured kid’s dad’s name is Lloyd Simcoe. Interesting…
• Courtney B. Vance’s flashforward was hilarious. As was his version of it.
• The cast is incredibly British (and one guy is from Ireland). The American accents were of varying degrees of accuracy. Joseph Fiennes needs a bit of work.
• April 29, 2010. 04-29-2010. 137 seconds. Go to work, number crunchers. I’ve got nothin’. Except that it’s a Thursday.

I really want this to be a wonderful show, and I didn’t see anything in this premiere to indicate that it wouldn’t be truly awesome. The previews for the rest of the season look tantalizing, and Dominic Monaghan, who was sadly missed in this episode, will appear soon. I’m definitely going to keep watching it, and I’m pretty sure I’ll keep enjoying it.

Could be a four-kangaroo rating, could be a three to allow for future coolness. For now, 3.4 kangaroos.

My review of the book on which this series is based is here.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. Fringe review coming soon--I've got an awful head cold, and am only capable of mental activity for short bursts of time.

  2. Glad you tackled this one, Josie. My overall reactions wouldn't have been as coherent. :)

    I liked this premiere, too. I've heard some people complaining that it dragged in the middle when people started trying to come to grips with their visions, but that was kind of my favorite part. I loved that the flashes had so many variations and meanings for everyone. As you say, that's the emotional core of the show. The quote you picked for your opening was for me the moment that best encapsulated the fascinating and completely opposite directions this show could explore. I'm looking forward to seeing where they take it.

    Some of the post-flash devastation was impressive, but I felt like they overdramatized it with the melodramatic music and the slow-motion running. Seriously? Slow motion running scenes with kangaroos crossing your path? Too over-the-top in my opinion. Sometimes dramatic impact is better without all the extra music and editing techniques.

    I thought the acting was pretty good, but Joseph Fiennes felt a bit stiff in some scenes.

    I like how you refer to Courtney B. Vance as being from one of the Law and Orders. To me, he was always be Jonesy from 'The Hunt for Red October.' :)

    Why is the name Lloyd Simcoe interesting? I'm not getting the reference.

  3. I was impressed. The questions about God and predestination and what knowing the future will do to everyone in the entire freaking world, were especially intriguing. The effects of the disaster were done very well. (Like Josie, I'm an Angelino and saw a lot of places I knew, which may have increased the impact for me.)

    I liked all of the actors. I liked the level of detail they inserted into the story. The Oceanic billboard was a great Lost shout out. The flashforward date is April 29, 2010, which will probably be the season finale. I also liked that the one guy had a vision of being on the toilet. We can't all be having an important experience at the same time. :)

    And finally, I liked that they kept the basic idea of the book but significantly changed it. They'd have to in order to make it work for television.

    Looking forward to next week's. Guess I won't be watching The Vampire Diaries.

  4. Great review Josie. My first impressions upon viewing were quite negative. Your review has changed my mind though. I thought it was too melodramatic and unrealistic at times. Especially the when the Fienne's character decides to leave his partner to deal with the chaos, just so he can find his wife (who he knows was ok). I dunno, didn't sit right... Not sure if it's a good or bad thing, but I don't know where they're going to go with the series. Will there be a 'standalone' element? Time will tell. I still think the concept better suit a film. I can just see it dragging out as a series, with the viewer receiving the odd answer here and there (much like Lost). Hopefully I'll be proven wrong :)

    Are you going to write regular reviews for the show, Josie? They'll motivate me to keep tuning in haha

  5. Hi CitizenErased,

    One thing I didn't mention in my review was the impossibility of getting a cell signal when a big disaster strikes: you just can't talk to people (although texting works). So I found that part of Mark and Olivia's communications unbelievable.

    When I read you comment, though, it occurred to me that maybe Mark had to see Olivia not to make sure that she was OK, but to make sure that *they* were OK. As we find out later, his certainty that he was drinking in his flashforward seems to have really shaken him up and made him worry about his marriage.

    We're still sussing out what's up with FlashForward reviews. We'll keep y'all updated.

  6. Definitely a promising start to the series. Along with V and Stargate Universe this is one of the few shows I’ve been looking forward to all summer. A strong cast and a fascinating central concept are the first I look for in a new show and so far this one has got me hooked.

    But I can’t see this high concept managing to sustain the show for the long term. Too many shows struggle to maintain interest once their central plot has been resolved, the most famous example being Twin Peaks. Hopefully ABC won’t make that mistake and drag this out to the point we’re all bored rather than riveted.

    Have to say as a Brit I liked that a lot of the cast is English (or Irish) which now seem to be a requirement for all American telly drama along with hiring Mark Sheppard and Alan Dale. Some of the accents do need work but they are not bad enough to be distracting and take you out of the action.

    And, to top it all off, April 29th is my dad’s birthday. Guess I know what I’ll be doing that day next year.

  7. Hi, I'm a new reader here. Can't wait to check more of your site out.

    It's so weird you made the connection between the Godfather and the oranges. I did the same thing too, and wrote about it on my blog.

    Anyway, I'm excited to see how this series pans out. The creeper guy walking around Tiger Stadium at the freaked me out.

  8. Mona,

    You're right -- I probably should have deleted that comment when it was posted. I'm sure the poster didn't mean to spoil anyone, though. Probably, because -- if this helps any -- the series has already been set up very, very differently from the book.

  9. I deleted the original comment and Mona's comment. Sorry about that, folks.


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