To The Powers That Be:
After 5 months of building the suspense, teasing us with glimpses during Lost commercial breaks during Spring Sweeps weeks, you finally unveiled the first full Flash Forward hour on Thursday night with resounding success as seen in the ratings: handily winning the timeslot shared with a new Survivor. A rarity for scripted TV going up against the reality powerhouse – to that, well played. Intrigued by the show’s premise from those ads and extended promo, now having an hour of story to go on I feel it necessary to craft this slight critical commentary of the premiere episode with the only pretense that this should be taken as both applause for success out of the gate and as an appeal to nurture FF toward forging its own creative road and not forcing on it a Lost series template all in the hopes of creating a new cash cow.
During the opening minutes of FF I found myself unintentionally (okay, maybe somewhat intentionally) counting the similarities to the Lost pilot. So many beats of the confusing post-plane crash chaos seemed to be there: open on hero waking up and groggily assessing the situation (thank you for keeping it a full-face first shot rather than a tight close-up on the eye); said hero, naturally one to take control, jumping in immediately to start saving the day; hero reassuring all surrounding victims that there’s no need to panic help is on the way! At least he didn’t drop a phrase (“live together, die alone”) to be used ad nauseum in later eps. While this didn’t completely take me out of the well-paced action scene it was a slight distraction in getting me invested in the gravity of the situation right away.
As the episode progressed other bits of the story held touches of Lost-like “hey remember this later it’ll be important” moments: oddly-placed kangaroo bouncing around a downtown street (polar bear charging through the jungle on a tropical island); a group formed to study the mysteries (Dharma Initiative); the significance of numbers – why were people unconscious for 2 minutes and 17 seconds (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42). Perhaps the above are all minor aspects that were never meant to be modeled directly from Lost (I’ll forget the totally unnecessary, blatant placement of an Oceanic Airlines billboard) and as a scrutinizing television viewer I’m looking at it too closely.
I did see some glaringly obvious attempts at grooming a show to be the refuge for fans upon your tentpole series’ finale in May, and having a couple of Lost actors on board almost pushes it too far (but thank you for bringing Dominic Monaghan back into my living room). However a lot of what was there showed massive amounts of creativity and potential – excellent cast, strong characters, well-paced story – and the one thing you took, and should keep taking, from the Lost playbook is slipping in a good amount of intrigue. The bit with a lone(?) conscious man walking around during the blackout was an excellent seed for massive water-cooler talk Friday morning. If there’s one thing Lost does well it’s light up the post-show speculation chatter.
To sum up I, and many others out there, love the twisty tales of island mystery, but please don’t be so deluded to think that we’re all in search of cookie-cutter versions to comfort us upon our favorite show’s departure next year. Keeping this in mind, I look forward to what’s in store for our Flashers in episodes to come, remain hopeful that it will find an individual voice, and will keep it on the Must Watch list until such time I find it following too closely in Lost‘s firmly-placed footsteps rather than exploring new roads of storytelling.
Avid TV Viewer Trish the Dish