Flash Forward, created by David S. Goyer--a writer with significant geek cred, debuts on ABC this fall. Because I missed the Battlestar Galactica panel, I got to see the first two acts of the pilot today. It looks like ABC is positioning the show to be the new Lost, but Goyer says, and I quote, "Nothing's ever going to be the new Lost," which I find reassuring. That said, there are some similarities, and Goyer says that ABC's courage in developing and supporting Lost is why he chose them after the bidding war for the script.
The pilot opens with footage of devestationafter some sort of massived car accident. Vehicles have flipped over, people are trapped, and one man is on fire and flailing about while Joseph Fiennes looks around. Then a title card says 4 hours earlier...and we open up on a serene Los Angeles tract housing subdevelopment. Fiennes wakes up, we see that he's FBI and that he's married to Penny! (Yell that in a Scottish brogue, please.) Penny is a doctor, they have a daughter named Charlie and a nanny played by Jane from Mad Men.
Fiennes goes to an AA meeting (at Union Station, kind of public for an Alcoholics ANONYMOUS meeting) where we learn that his sponsor recentlyfell off the wagon after his daughter was killed in Afghanistan. Penny calls a fellow doctor who didn't come into work that day, and who is preparing to kill himself. Fiennes' partner is played by John Cho and they begin to chase a car they've been tailing. Things cut between the nanny having sex/Penny prepping for surgery/random dr. prepping for suicide/ sponsor climbing a phone pole/ and the chase when suddenly there's a flash.
In the flash Fiennes is in his office, staring at a bulletin board covered in clues from an investigation, drinking from a flask, when a gunman walks in, we can see three stars tattooed on his arm and that's it. I guarantee that this will be the most analyzed 30 seconds of television in all of human history. Everything in this flash ties into the plot in future episodes and seasons.
Fiennes rouses from his blackout to the scene of devastation we saw earlier. In successive scenes we learn that the chaos is massive because everyone on earth blacked out at the same time. Fiennes takes off to find Penny! (whose name is actually Olivia) and "a bunch of shit happens after that."
The flash forward is to April 29, 6 months in the future, and the final episodes of the season take place on April 29. In his explanation of how he decided to do the project and why he did it as a series instead of a feature, Goyers makes it clear that they have the entire series mapped out. It will continue beyond the future they've seen, and the story will take an absolute minimum of three seasons, and Courtney B. Vance (Fiennes' boss) made a LOT of jokes about breaking Gunsmoke's record 21 year run.
The season's arc will cover Fiennes' investigation, which will be sort of the procedural arch of the show, but every episode the audience will see a different characters' flash, and the dramatic heart will focus on the question What do you do when you can see your future? Do you try to make it happen? Do you try to stop it? If you're with someone other than your spouse do you leave said spouse? If this show is done right and written well, it will be well worth investing your time.
Towards the end of the panel they showed us some clips from the second episode, and learned that Charlie! has joined the cast. From what I've seen this show will be well worth investing your time and money. My only fear is that Goyer will get bored with television and leave the show in less capable hands; he's only on contract for one year at this point. But that's something I'll deal with when it comes. For now I'll be tuning in on Thursday, September 24 at 8 o'clock.