Created by: David S. Goyer
Starring: Joseph Fiennes, Sonya Walger, Zachary Knighton, John Cho
LOST is coming to an end, for better or for worse. Flashforward is ABC great hope for a replacement for that now iconic series. It has a lot in common with LOSY in that it features an ensemble cast with mysterious pasts and futures dealing with an epic event. The question is can this show rise to the bar set by LOST.
The series premiered ran for 10 episodes before going on a lengthy, and risky, hiatus. This DVD release featuring all 10of those first episodes is ABC’s attempt to give viewers new and returning to the show an opportunity to play catch up or to refresh themselves on what is already an extremely complex story. The premiere episode starts with a man, an FBI agent waking up in his car which is flipped upside down on the highway. When he exits the car he sees that the city has fallen into complete chaos. Immediately he begins trying to help people amid the explosions and rubble. These scenes are very reminiscent of the first appearance of Jack on LOST. Once the initial run of chaos is under control the FBI agent and his partner begin investigating what happened. It appears that everyone let me say that again, EVERYONE blacked out for around two minutes. During the two minute blackout a piece of each person’s future, six month’s into the future to be more precise, is revealed to them. From here the questions begin. Who or what caused the blackout? What do the Flashforward’s really mean?
In the FBI agent’s flashforward he sees a board in his office covered with clues related to the flashforward. A full investigation is started based on what he can remember of those clues. Along with the main mystery there are many personal ones that make up the bulk of the secondary stories. Some survivors had no flashforward. All they saw during the blackout was blackness. One man’s dead daughter appears to be alive in his future. A wife appears to be cheating on her husband in the future while the alcoholic husband appears to be drinking again. These are just a few of the smaller but intriguing secondary stories that begin to unfold as the first season of Flashforward unfolds.
There’s a lot to like about this series within these first ten episodes. The ensemble cast is really strong for the most part and the personal mysteries are well executed and fascinating. The main story is also intriguing but the problem is that it gets extremely convoluted extremely quickly within the first five episodes of the volume. The FBI investigation takes the agents in different directions every episode and it can be difficult to keep it all together and to keep it clear what’s important and what’s not. There’s some turmoil behind the scenes of the series regarding an exiting showrunner and Goyer, a less experienced showrunner, taking the reins that can be felt in the actual episodes. There are too many characters actually and it can also be challenging to stay connected to all of them because they get such a small amount of time on screen. LOST fell into the trap and so did Heroes. Both of those shows managed to refocus on characters that matter the most and give them enough screen time to ground their stories for viewers. Not every episode has to feature every character. Another issue is that there didn’t seem to be much damage to the world after every single person blacked out for two minutes. There was a bit of chaos in the first episode but situations related to recovering from the blackout disappear from the show fairly quickly. Imagine if every person blacked out for two minutes what would really happen. Planes would literally fall out of the sky, people would just die on the operating table, and who knows what else would happen during such a major blackout. The devastation should be much worse and be continually playing an impact on the show.
The second five episodes within this volume do manage to tighten the main story arc a bit and introduce one new character in particular that adds a whole new layer of mystery to the series. Flashforward isn’t as perfectly conceived as LOST was when it started but there’s enough to the show to make it fascinating serialized TV.
The anamorphic widescreen presentation of these ten episodes is fairly solid even with the spastic style in which each episode is shot. For the most part the show is shot in high contrast HD but sometimes scenes can be coated in sepia and tons of grain and still other scenes look extremely natural. There are washed out images and overblown colors in many of the episodes too. The DVD presentations handle this huge variety of styles and color pallets quite well with the only noticeable problems being some compression grain and some edge artifacts in a few scenes.
The Dolby Digital audio leans to the midrange bass side of things which means the subwoofer gets some good work but higher pitched sounds come through a little soft in the mix. There is some surround usage but it’s not as cinematic as you’d expect. There is some great sound fx in the show and they come through crystal clear. While the overall presentation isn’t as movie-like as you might expect it is a really solid TV audio presentation.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The two disc collection comes packaged in a slim amaray case with a glossy slipcover. The cover art of this DVD set if fairly forgettable unfortunately. Since this is a special release to get interest in the show building it would have been cool to have seen the set come out with some really exciting artwork.
There’s only one bonus feature included in this collection, a featurette titled Creating Catastrophe: The Effects Behind a Global Blackout. This brief featurette is focused on the opening sequence of the premiere episode of the show where Los Angeles is in shambles after the blackout. On set interviews cover the mixing of real fx with CGI and stunts. The featurette is interesting but way to brief and a lacking depth.
Flashforward: A Look Ahead could be called a featurette but it’s really a five minute promo for the second half of season one of the show. Hardcore fans will appreciate some brief footage of upcoming episodes.
Flashforward’s first half exists on wobbly legs but the core stories and many of the ensemble cast make this one worth sticking with. Given the chance it’ll get better and better. These first ten episodes reveal all that good and not so good about the show but they also show the potential for growth that the show ahs. If you’ve seen the show and like it you may want to wait for the inevitable complete season one boxset.
Overall (Not an average) 6/10
The Volume 8/10
The video 8/10
The Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 4/10
Overall (Not an average) 6/10