Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 1st, 2010
“On October 6, the planet blacked out for two minutes and seventeen seconds. The whole world saw the future…”
For all intents and purposes, it appears just like any routine fall day throughout the world. People are busying themselves about their normal concerns. Suddenly everyone on the planet blacks out for exactly 2 minutes and 17 seconds. Just think about that part for a moment. Every human being collapses at the same moment. Think about all of the things that people are doing at any given moment. Driving cars. Flying planes. Performing delicate surgical procedures, or just walking across the street. Pretty much any activity is going to become dangerous as the blackouts occur. 20 million people worldwide die in the event.
Now, what makes this show different from your typical high-casualty disaster series is not the global body count. It’s what happens to the folks who don’t get killed that sets this series up. During that 2 minutes and 17 seconds, every person has something called a flash forward. It’s a vision, if you will. They get a glimpse of the future from their own perspective. Investigation soon reveals that everyone’s future vision was the exact same moment in time: April 29th, 2010 at 10:00 PM. Each person experiences that moment in their lives. Further investigation confirms that the visions are accurate and persons that were, or will be as the case may be, together at that time share the same confirmable experiences. Who or what caused these flash forwards, and why? Mark Benford’s flash forward finds him looking at an investigation board containing crucial clues to the flash forward investigation. It puts him square in the lead to take the case, because now he’s got a sneak peek at what key pieces of evidence will be found. He also has a line on pivotal players in the case. The feds set up a program called MOSAIC, which encourages people to share their flash forwards online. It allows people to make some sense of their visions, while giving the government a working database of flash forwards. Further clues uncover the fact that there were two people who were not effected by the blackouts and were up and around while the rest of the world was knocked out. The images are fuzzy, but their identities are of vital priority.
Flash Forward is intended to be another Lost. There are a ton of parallels here. You have a mysterious event here that has many enigmatic threads. The characters find their lives intertwined in ways they are only beginning to discover. As in Lost, we get glimpses of these connections that the characters are not always completely aware of. Again like Lost, we learn more about the characters not only through their own flash forward, but the show provides typical flashbacks to fill in a lot of back story. There are even several cast members with significant Lost connections. The most notable of these is Dominic Monaghan, who played Charlie on Lost. Another significant cast member crossover is Sonya Walger, who was Desmond’s girl and explorer Penny. The most important similarity is the whole deepening mystery and mysterious characters. For every answer, you get three more new questions. It’s not near as compelling as Lost, but it is a very interesting show. Of course, as is it is built for only one season. The season will likely end on or around the target April 29th flash forward date…unless, of course, there’s another event. It’s all intriguing enough to have me wanting to know what happens next.
The network character descriptions follow:
Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes):
Special Agent Mark Benford works for the Los Angeles Field Office of the FBI. On the outside looking in, he seems to have the perfect life: a beautiful wife, an adorable daughter, a great home, two cars in the garage…
But the garage door is broken, and his marriage has suffered from Mark’s struggle with his inner demons. The birth of his daughter, Charlie, caused him to sober up. The shining light in his life, Charlie gave him the strength to keep the demons at bay.
Olivia Benford (Sonya Walger):
Dr. Olivia Benford is a successful trauma surgeon. Strong and driven, she thrives on the challenges of her job. She’s tough when it comes to mentoring her interns, but her vast knowledge and compassion for her patients garners respect from the medical staff. Much of her success stems from her love of children, especially her daughter, Charlie.
Though her marriage to Mark has had its ups and downs, she is fearlessly devoted to him, and she recognizes that there is a lot of love there and is doing what she can to make it work.
Aaron Stark (Brian F. O’Byrne):
Aaron Stark is a hard-working technician for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Aaron has had his share of rough times. A prison stint, a divorce… but nothing could compare to the pain he felt when two uniformed men stood on his front porch and told him that his daughter, Tracy, had been killed in Afghanistan. Aaron finds solace in Alcoholics Anonymous and through sponsoring Mark Benford. Aaron’s honesty, insight and easygoing manner enable an effortless rapport with Mark. Aaron is the person to whom Mark confides his darkest secrets.
Bryce Varley (Zachary Knighton):
Bryce Varley is on the verge of making a life-threatening choice. He’s dedicated his life to the pursuit of becoming a doctor. Upon receiving his M.D., he procured an internship with Olivia Benford’s supervision. The hours are hell, which makes it impossible for Bryce to have any outside pursuits or even love interests, which is hard for a man in his twenties. Without these outlets, Bryce’s sharp mind can sometimes go to very dark places.
Demetri Noh (John Cho):
Special Agent Demetri Noh is Mark’s partner in the FBI. At the age of 32, he’s one of the younger agents in the Field Office. His youthful exuberance leads him to jump to conclusions before gathering all of the facts. Patience is something the more seasoned Mark is trying to teach him. The one area where Demetri is forced into methodical thinking is in planning his wedding with his fiancée, Zoey. If he’s not careful, she may find out what he’s been hiding from her.
Janis Hawk (Christine Woods):
Janis Hawk is an extremely smart and talented agent for the FBI. She’s a bit of a tomboy with a quick wit. With all of her attributes, her colleagues find it surprising that she’s still single. The fact is, she’s a disaster when it comes to dating.
Lloyd Simcoe (Jack Davenport):
Dr. Lloyd Simcoe is a brilliant and successful quantum physicist who is Associate Director of the Plasma-Wakefield Program at NLAP (National Linear Accelerator Project) in Northern California. Separated for several years from his wife and young son, Dylan, Lloyd has been solely focused on making his mark in the scientific world. His not-so-secret ambition is to win a Nobel Prize.
Following the tragic death of his estranged wife during the GBO, Lloyd has suddenly become a single father to a son he barely knows, a boy whose autism presents an even greater challenge to learning how to parent. Effortlessly charming, Lloyd learns to bond with Dylan by developing his skill in the art of magic.
Nicole Kirby (Peyton List):
Nicole Kirby is a nineteen-year-old student who earns her living babysitting Charlie Benford, Mark and Olivia’s daughter. There’s a bit of a rebellious streak in Nicole, though she tries to maintain her Christian values. She also has a penchant for Venti mint mocha chip Frappucinos.
Simon Campos (Dominic Monaghan):
Dr. Simon Campos is a brilliant, intense man who holds PhDs in multiple fields. Aggressive, arrogant and quick to anger, at first encounter, Simon can be overbearing. But when he decides someone is worth his time, Simon unleashes a powerful charisma and a natural ability to manipulate even the strongest personality to conform to his will. The only person who knows the unguarded Simon is his younger sister Annabelle, on whom he dotes.
Stanford Wedeck (Courtney B. Vance):
Stanford “Stan” Wedeck is the Assistant Director of the Los Angeles Field Office of the FBI. His ability to process and delegate efficiently enabled him to singlehandedly turn his team into a well-oiled machine. The same rules apply at home. Though with his only child having just started college, Wedeck is learning to embrace the quiet nights he gets to spend with his wife. He maintains a dry sense of humor during the darkest of times.
Each episode of Flash Forward is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. I sure wish that ABC hadn’t decided to try to squeeze 5 episodes onto each disc. The resulting compression artifact and overall broken-up image quality makes it very hard to appreciate the above average visuals and f/x. Color is bright but black levels suffer greatly. Textures are left without any kind of detail, as shimmering and other nasty compression problems mar almost every aspect of this release.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track works to far greater effect here. While this is very much a dialog-driven series, there are the occasional moments when the audio is allowed to spread out in such a way that you can immerse yourself in the action. The pilot is particularly good at this. Music cues are dynamic enough to sound like, at least, CD quality stuff. There’s even the rare moment where your sub comes alive and makes you forget it’s a television show.
Creating Catastrophe : (7:06) As you might expect, this feature looks at some of the incredible effects, found mostly in the pilot. The crew managed to shut down a busy highway and interchange. There’s plenty of f/x work on display here, including a ton of sweet pyrotechnics.
Architects Of Destiny: (20:07) Cast and crew consider the implications of the show’s premise. There are talks about the original Robert J. Sawyer book and what has changed for the series. There’s a piece on casting. Finally, the participants talk about, what else, destiny.
Flashforward On Set: 5 scene-specific behind the scenes pieces. There is a handy play- all option. They range about 2-5 minutes each.
Meet Yuko: (5:49) A profile on the popular Japanese actress who plays Keiko. She speaks mostly Japanese in the piece.
Interviews From The Mosaic Collective: These are four location specific “news” reports. It’s man on the street stuff intended to talk to people about the black out.
There are also select deleted scenes, a feature on the kangaroo and a blooper reel.
This may have been intended to be another Lost, but it never did capture the imagination in quite the same way. As the date approaches things really heat up for the show. There are betrayals, twists, and many turns. The show runners might very well have been fighting for their lives. They saved the best for the final few episodes. If only someone had had their own flash forward, they might have kicked it up a notch earlier. There’s a lot of talk about destiny and how much control we might have over our futures. It’s great philosophical stuff, indeed, a reminder “You know… sometimes what happens in the world makes us forget it’s all up to us. We have choices–you, me.”