Ahhh, autumn, autumn. The leaves are going brown and falling from the trees, the days are shorter and colder, it's back to school and college for many of us, and the festive hat trick of Bonfire night, Halloween and Xmas awaits. Oh, and everyone is indoors, huddled around their TVs to enjoy a packed autumn schedule, which , aside from the X-Factor and Strictly, this year once more bring us another raft of big US TV dramas. This time it's Generation Kill (C4) from the makers of The Wire, ultra-cool vampire series True Blood (C4), Stargate Universe (Sky 1), with the return of much loved series Heroes and Lost to follow next year.
Then there's FlashForward, a new series premièring on Monday nights on Channel , which is based on a 1999 novel by Canadian writer Robert J Sawyer who devised the show along with co-creator David Goyer (writer of The Dark Knight, and Blade: The Series, amongst other things), and and Brannon Braga (24). The major league pedigree is complete with a cast which includes top notch British actors, as usual, this time in the form of Joseph Fiennes who plays FBI agent and recovering alcoholic Mark Benford, his wife Olivia (Sonya Walger, an escapee from Lost), somewhat bizarrely, Jack Davenport, best known to older viewers as posh toff Miles from ground breaking nineties drama This Life, and more recently the Pirates of The Caribbean movies. With American John Cho (last seen rolling an enormous joint as Harold in the Harold and Kumar movies), and, somewhere in the first season, an appearance by former Hobbit and hairy-faced Mancunian Dominic Monaghan also in the cast, the list of vaguely familiar faces is complete.
The show is clearly a contender hoping to follow in the footsteps of the televisual behemoth that is the ratings and critical success of Lost, and as such, it is centred around a “high-concept” premise ; everyone in the world has blacked out for precisely 2 minutes and 17 seconds, with many experiencing a dream like vision, which turns out to be a “Flash Forward” to where they will individually find themselves 6 months from now, at 10pm on 29th April 2010. Such an inscrutable mystery poses countless questions, which will no doubt be strung out over countless episodes with not much resolution and more questions than answers. Thankfully, frustrated fans of Lost will be glad to know that the makers promise it will be nowhere near as convoluted as the show it hopes to replace in their affections.
In the early shows, we have already found that the central character of Mark Benford has envisioned his descent back into alcoholism, the collapse of his marriage, and his future role as an investigator of the mystery posed by these visions. As the FBI officers struggle to make sense of the ensuing global crisis, they have set up a website, Mosaic, for people to describe and compile their visions, to see if they correspond. Meanwhile, Marks' surgeon wife Olivia is disturbed to find the man with which she has had visions of having an affair walk into the hospital where she works, and Benfords' partner Dimitri (Cho) is troubled that he has no visions at all : in this future, is he alive? Are these visions of the future “real”? And who is the mysterious man clad in black, caught on CCTV walking through a baseball stadium in Detroit, while all around him, and the world over, everyone else has blacked out?
Flash Forward continues on Mondays, 9pm on Five.