ABC's FlashForward entered the fall season as one of television's most anticipated series, largely because there were so many comparisons to the excellent Lost. Featuring common cast members, mind-bending mysteries, and some nifty Lost cross-promotion, the comparisons were justified. But I know Lost, and FlashForward is no Lost.
I've got a better comparison to make: FlashForward is the new Heroes (and that's not a compliment). I'm really trying to like the show, but it just won't let me. And that's why after three episodes, it's time to let FlashForward go. (Yes, I know I'm setting myself up as public enemy number one here, feel free to throw rocks in my direction.)
The premise for the uninitiated: FlashForward is about the aftermath of a worldwide blackout of the lost consciousness variety. Everyone experiences visions of their future exactly six months ahead. Thematically, FlashForward tackles free will, human relations, and the dangers of knowing the future. Sounds like a killer premise, right? It is, but a killer premise does not a good show make (see: Heroes).
We'll ignore the gaping plot holes (the greatest worldwide disaster ever and everyone goes back to normal?), because that would be too easy. At its best, FlashForward is a mediocre Jerry Bruckheimer-esque sci-fi film -- along the lines of Deep Impact -- or a second-rate Independence Day or some other movie that takes itself way too seriously. The producers aren't afraid to use music cues and other tricks to pound into viewers' brains that a certain scene is dramatic (remember Joe Fiennes' slow-mo sprint in the pilot? Barf!) -- even when said scenes are fairly dull (see: Heroes). If one new show tries too hard this season, it's FlashForward.
The dialogue isn't helping either. Check out this gem from last night's episode:
American Lady: Isn't this where Sophie Scholl and the rest of the White Rose Nazi resistance group were executed?
German Escort Man: If I'm not mistaken your country eradicated its indigenous Indian population and practiced institutionalized slavery for 250 years.
Joe Fiennes: We also gave the world Britney Spears.
Me: I think I just threw up in my mouth.
Lost has its occasional dialogue flubs, but what it does incredibly well is show the audience what it wants them to know rather than tell them. FlashForward is so surface-level that it's flat.
*Side-note: There's a little drinking game you can play while watching FlashForward -- take a gulp every time someone says "Flash Forward," you'll be tanked by the second commercial break and better suited to watch the rest of the episode.
Acting-wise, FlashForward is in trouble as well. Fiennes plays the lead character like a man who has a permanent worried or shamed look on his face, and his character is still as thin as a piece of paper. The only people bringing anything to their roles are John Cho, who is excellent as Korean-American FBI agent Demetri Noh, and Courtney B. Vance, who plays his supervisor. Everyone else, way too one-dimensional (see: Heroes).
It's unfortunate that FlashForward wasn't able to execute its premise better, it could really have been a deep-thinking show. I'm hoping it can turn around soon.