Monday, July 13, 2009

Pilot Screener Review - Flash Forward

Status: Premiering Thursday, September 24th at 8pm on ABC

So... I don't have the pilot screener. But I have seen the pilot. Stuff is changing (as things do when you have what seems to be the promise of a heavily-serialized, internal-mythology-based show and then you add a bunch of other writers and a top of network pressure). Not big stuff, but some of the details. So any review of minutae would be premature (though not as premature as a forthcoming review of CBS's Three Rivers).

Is it okay to say that... I'm worried?

Not because of the quality of the pilot. It's impeccably shot and CGIed and much of the cast is fun or engaging or whatever they're supposed to be. Just about the only thing I found lacking was significant chemistry between Joe Fiennes and Sonya Walger, whose characters are together. Of course, they only get one or two scenes together in the entire pilot, so there's certainly opportunity to build on what's I perceived to be (or not be) there.

There's the question of excitement. And of over-hype. Will Flash Forward live up to expectations? And, more importantly, will episode 2 will up to the pilot?

Hard to say.

ABC's midseason entry, V, which I will be reviewing here soon, at least has the presence of the aliens to pose a significant, constant level of threat. Flash Forward is going to be relying entirely on the build up to a future date (though, I'm sure, episodes will build in stakes and intensity and mystery to carry us to the fated April 29th, 2010). The event, and the fallout, happens in the pilot. It's massive. It's a spectacle. It looks fantastic. But you don't get to do that again, in series (um, until it happens again... which, if I'm hearing about the book correctly, it does... hey, that'll be a fun way to enter May sweeps!)

I hate to do the Lost comparison thing. I really do. The thing about Lost is, before it was about the mythology, it was about something that happened to these people, and it was about the people. It was about people stranded on an island fighting to survive even if there hadn't been a Smoke Monster or Others or Dharma Initiative or what have you. That is something you are not going to get after Flash Forward's eventful pilot, which promises an investigation and a chain of events that will severely alter each character's life over the seven-ish months between pilot and April 29, 2010.

There are only two change I noticed from the script. First is that the pilot starts with a minute or so of the disaster zone that is the Los Angeles freeway following the worldwide blackout, then flashes back to pre-blackout. Which could mean the network was worried that viewers wouldn't stick around unless there was some kind of big, flashy moment right from the getgo (you know... like Jack walking out of the bamboo forest and seeing the wreckage of Oceanic 815). But I could be talking out of my ass and that device could've been producer-developed. The second change was the introduction of Bryce, who works with Sonya Walger's Olivia but is going to kill himself in the opening moments of the pilot before the blackout happens and he takes it as a sign to keep on living. In the pilot, Olivia calls him (leaving a voicemail) as he's walking up Santa Monica Pier (with a lot of "view from just behind his head" POV slow motion shots), which immediately establishes his connection to Our Main Family.

Cameos abound, most notably the ballyhooed Seth MacFarlane appearance, which is less an appearance as it is a character. He's in a number of scenes, as one of the FBI agents in the LA office and I got the feeling we'd be seeing him again. Alex "Dr. Corday" Kingston is part of someone's flashforward vision, and there are others.

Anyway... well worth the watch. I'll be looking to episode two for clarity on what the series actually is.

1 comment:

Ted said...

Thanks for your review. Also thanks for your honest assesment of HUNG. It is a depressing watch and it bothers how it got great reviews. I believe the show would have been critically panned if it aired on any net but HBO. It annoys me that in this age where shows like PUSHING DAISIES, FNL, CHUCK, ELI etc which seem like commercial hits and you just watch the numbers deflate every week, yet HUNG which is poorly written acted, not relateble, depressing as you said, actually grows in numbers. It seems so unfair. What are your thoughts?