Friday, October 23, 2009

FlashForward [television review]

* Airs Thursday nights at 8 p.m. on ABC
Network television holds little interest for me these days. Whereas I once spent numerous hours on a weekly basis devoted to their dramas or comedies, now I find myself indifferent to the wasteland of reality show drivel (how many friggin' dancing or modeling shows can they come up with anyway?), stale procedural crime dramas and sitcoms masquerading as comedy. The exceptions for me are the standout 30 Rock and the still fun Survivor. Instead, my viewing attention had turned increasingly to the superior quality that cable networks deliver in the area of original programming (Breaking Bad, Nurse Jackie and Damages, to name just a few).
Then ABC's FlashForward came along a few weeks ago, reminding me not to give up the ghost on the big four networks just yet. The show had been well reviewed and was getting great buzz, so I was on the fence about giving it a try. After taking the plunge, I'm now completely hooked and eagerly awaiting new episodes every Thursday night.
Here's the high concept plot: the entire population of the planet experiences a mysterious loss of consciousness for two minutes and seventeen seconds at the same time, during which most people see visions of an event from their life taking place approximately six months in the future - referred to as a "flashforward". Members of the F.B.I.'s Los Angeles bureau then undertake the task of seeking answers for the phenomenon. The cast is superb, particularly John Cho and Joseph Fiennes as partners. They, and most of the rest of the cast, have quickly demonstrated an easy comfort level with each other, creating noticeable chemistry. Fiennes, the star of the show, gets a worthy onscreen wife in Sonya Walger, with the pair forming the basis of one of the show's more interesting story lines as their flashforwards each point to impending upheaval in their lives.
The show borrows elements from 24 (the action) and Lost (mysterious plot twists, without the farcical nonsense), yet delivers a fresh take on the action thriller drama. The conclusion of the show's recent fifth episode (titled Gimme Some Truth) went down with a tense gunfight unfolding while the Rolling Stones' version of "Like A Rolling Stone" played on the soundtrack, as another principal character in a different location was dealing with her own adversity. It was as fine a scene as I've seen on the small screen lately.
FlashForward was originally developed for HBO, which ended up selling the show to ABC because they saw it as a better fit for network TV. It's already been picked up for a full season, which was originally set to be the standard 22 episodes, but has now been expanded to 25.
Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆