FlashForward was primed to capitalize on the success of the outgoing Lost, with ABC hoping it could have another epic saga on its hands to satiate the fans who would be losing their favorite weekly fix. Unfortunately, while the series premiered strong, both creatively and in the ratings, both suffered as it went along. A long mid-season hiatus did improve the creative end of things, but by then the viewers were gone and would not return. This set is a reminder of the great potential the series had but never quite realized. With moments of brilliance sprinkled throughout its run, it's just a shame we won't get to see the vision for the series fully realized, unless an unlikely and unsubstantiated rumor of the series possibly getting picked up by Starz comes to fruition.
After seeing the pilot episode for FlashForward, I was immediately blown away by how well it showcased such a bizarre premise. FBI Agents Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes) and Demetri Noh (John Cho) are in a high-speed chase with a suspect when everything goes black. They awaken to a scene of carnage, later discovering that the entire population of the planet blacked out for exactly 137 seconds. Discovering how and why it happened is one of the first priorities. Making sure it doesn't happen again is another.
The situation is complicated further when people start talking about their experiences during the blackouts and realize that they all had a "dream" of themselves at some point in the future. As it turns out, those visions were all of the same point in the future, meaning the entire world saw their future. Suddenly, FlashForward became a series as much about predestination and trying to interpret what the visions meant as it was about finding out the secrets behind the blackouts and preventing further cataclysms.
The season was split into two halves, with a long scheduled hiatus after the tenth episode. But those first ten episodes are a slow burn, plagued with behind-the-scenes shenanigans that hurt the progression. There was no real sense of danger or urgency, despite closing in on the April 29, 2010 date seen in the vision. The creators had even incorporated the date into the production schedule, with the aforementioned day actually set to air on April 29, 2010, creating a great synchronicity for the fans. Unfortunately, after the long hiatus, plans were changed, and the series didn't reach April 29 until the finale on May 27, 2010.
The second half of the season brings with it all the tension, excitement, and anticipation fans of the pilot had been hoping for when the series began. The character of Simon Campos (Dominc Monaghan) is fleshed out and becomes a sympathetic enigma, while Janis Hawk (Christine Woods) receives one of the more interesting character arcs, as her loyalties are tried on more than one occasion. Perhaps even more significantly than the improved writing is the return to an emphasis on the visions themselves.
Not only do we get some much-needed return visits to the day of the blackout, so we can see and appreciate what those two minutes and change did to the world from a variety of perspectives, but the latter half spends a lot more time delving into the visions everyone had. Moments in each episode show how certain characters are either moving toward those visions, or perhaps moving away from them. Can you escape your destiny? Agent Al Gough (Lee Thompson Young) proves early on, in one of the early episodes' most powerful moments, that destiny is not necessarily pre-ordained, no matter what the visions contained.
The series struggles throughout with how to balance the character stories of the large and diverse cast. While the characters and pieces of their lives seem to intersect and connect at key moments as we move through the year, certain storylines are abandoned, or put on the backburner at inopportune times. The storyline involving Aaron Stark (Brian F. O'Byrne) and his missing daughter, Tracy (Genevieve Cortese), has one of the most emotionally powerful elements at its core -- the love of a father for his daughter -- but it's so often ignored, with key beats in his struggle skipped altogether. Ultimately, as a viewer, you find yourself wondering if all the screen time that is given to the Stark family story is worth it, as the emotional payoff is disappointing at best.
It's far too late in the season when FlashForward figures out what kind of show it wants to be, and which stories are the most compelling. While it makes for a great close to the first season, we've struggled too much as viewers to get to this point. In watching the episodes, it's easy to see why this show failed, and yet when you get into the back half, it's even easier to see why it still commands such a loyal fanbase hoping for continuation. April 29, 2010 may have been the date everyone saw in their flashforwards, but it is just the first climax in a much longer and richer story that fans may now never get to see. As much as I am disappointed in the squandered potential of a great idea, I'm inclined to vote on the side of the fans who are pushing for Starz to pick up the pieces and run with them. A tighter and shorter cable season would probably help the pacing of the series tremendously, as would a tighter cast focus. It may have started a bit rockily, but FlashForward found its footing and deserved another shot at reclaiming the audience it lost through its own mistakes. For supporting the vision, and capturing those moments that were great in this season, it's worth the investment. You might have to tough your way through a few episodes in the beginning, but by the end you'll be hanging onto your seats and as frustrated as the rest of us that it may truly be over.
This Complete Series package includes the features that were available on the Season 1.0 set, featuring the first 10 episodes, as well as some additional extras to round out the experience. Still one of the best is "Creating Catastrophe," which takes a behind-the-scenes look at the work that went into the sequence with Mark and Demetri in the aftermath of the blackout. That scene was the pivotal moment of the series, setting the stage for both its tone and direction, and serving as a reminder of how great it could be. "Architects of Destiny" expands that coverage throughout the entire season, featuring cast and crew interviews and footage culled from the entire production, beginning to end. What's fun about these extras is that they condense everything that was great about the series, without the additional nonsense that occasionally bogged down the narrative through its 22-episode run.
"FlashForward on Set" offers behind-the-scenes footage chronicling some key moments in the series, offering a fun look at how a television show as ambitious as FlashForward can pull off some of the cool things we see. One entire special feature is given to Yuko Takeuchi, who plays the woman in Dr. Bryce Varley's (Zachary Knighton) vision. She's a big star in Japan, so it was a pretty big deal for the production, even though it didn't mean nearly as much to those of us watching the show as it seemed to matter to Yuko herself. I was a bit disappointed in "Kangaroo?" as it doesn't offer any explanation as to why the kangaroo was used throughout the season. It seems like they just thought it would be something goofy to do, and then decided to see how many times they could throw it in. The problem is the rest of the show is the type you sift through with a fine-toothed comb for clues. Or maybe there is a bigger meaning to it, in which case it's just cruel not to tell us now that our journey is over.
We get the expected "Deleted Scenes," which disappointingly don't add anything to what we already saw on the screen -- at least it was clearly okay to cut them -- and a blooper reel. The set features several hidden extras as well, most of them dealing with "testimonials" from the Mosaic, the name given to the collective of vignettes of people's visions. These are fun diversions, and again spotlight the larger potential of the premise behind FlashForward. Add in a short about Dominic Monaghan's obsession with a Rubik's Cube and Christine Woods getting distracted by a bug, and the entire package is both informative and fun.