FlashForward (one word, that — the two-word spelling must be tied up already, copyrighted as some big screen Flash sequel) is the latest serial drama to try to capture the same lightning in a bottle that Lost did, with its survivalist blend of mythology, sci-fi elements and base-level humanistic drama. No tropic polar bears here (there is a kangaroo, however), but instead there’s a somewhat template-familiar grand, mysterious event, some knowing exploitation of temporal shifts and of course an injection of law-enforcement muscle, the better to make bait a primetime audience looking for something other than (at the time) Jay Leno’s same old shtick. Co-creator David Goyer will shortly be leaving show-running duties, busy on a quiet little project for Warner Bros., it seems. But after an interrupted run, the series returns to ABC on March 18; this DVD release is timed to drum up support for that marketplace reentry.
Based loosely on a novel by Robert Sawyer, FlashForward unfolds in Los Angeles, in the aftermath of a bizarre phenomenon which causes everyone in the world to lose consciousness at exactly the same moment — blacking out for 137 seconds on April 30, 2010, at 1:00 a.m. Eastern time, and glimpsing a series of events from their own future. Naturally, some events are mundane, but positive, others are terrible, and others simply strange and unknowable. Uncertain as to whether the incident was a freak act of nature or something man-made gone wrong, an elite law enforcement team, including FBI agents Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes) and Demetri Noh (John Cho), jumps into investigatory mode, trying to make sense of a security camera surveillance video from the blackout in which a conscious man is seen wandering about. Most of the rest of the world’s population, meanwhile, wrestles with end-time possibilities and more personal dilemmas, including the choice of whether to embrace the fates they’ve seen, or fight to change the future.
The show’s pilot episode is superb, with Goyer getting lots of mileage out of the admittedly cool, breezily seductive premise; it certainly helps that he concretely establishes a world with consequences, as mass casualties resulted from those flying planes, driving cars or performing operations suddenly blacking out, along with those in their care or stead. This tells us the show isn’t going to be some massive, pointless jack-off. But as it unfolds, some of the plot contrivances wear a bit thin relatively quickly, certain portions of the narrative friction seem stock (do we really need to delve into the head-drama of another alcoholic law enforcement officer?), and the dialogue comes off as a bit hokey at times. All 10 episodes of the show’s debut run are included here, and there’s a decent blend of mystery, menace and bear-baiting excitement. It’s the future bends of the road that will determine the final grade for this exercise in genre mash-up, however.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray two-disc case that in turn slots in a glossy cardboard slipcover, FlashForward comes to DVD presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and its transfer, free of digital artifacting but marked by a bit of grain, is fairly solid, preserving a visual scheme that is heavy on gritty, depressive hues of blue and green. Audio arrives in clear, nicely balanced Dolby digital 5.1 surround sound tracks, with optional English, French and Spanish subtitles. Special features consist of a seven-minute look at the special effects work involved in creating the series’ catastrophic leaping-off point; on-set interviews with Goyer and crew members showcase the exacting mix of practical effects and CG elements utilized. Also included are a pair of brief preview featurettes, one narrated by Dominic Monaghan, that tout and tease the rest of the first season. To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. B- (Show) B- (Disc)