I reviewed the first half season of Flashforward when it came out on DVD back in February. The ABC show was canceled in May, and the network has now put out the entire series in one DVD package. When I originally reviewed the series first half, I was impressed with the characters they had laid out. However, as I went back a second time to view those early episodes, I started to notice a lack of consistency. Mismanaged characters, poor dialogue and an emphasis on the complex plot made my head spin.
I wasn’t the only one who thought so as the ratings for the show took a hit each week it was on the air. ABC decided to place the show on an extended hiatus in December and I think this is what killed the show altogether. Despite the falling ratings, there was plenty of time to right the ship and save the show. Unfortunately, with over two months between episodes, viewers moved on and only die-hards came back to Flashforward. That’s too bad. Despite the turmoil behind the scenes (the show lost two show runners in the course of its short life), the series picked up momentum and had a satisfying finale, albeit an ending that left anyone still interested hanging.
Here was a show that had all of the potential to be groundbreaking and successful. There were some interesting ideas; and the characters, had they been given the time, could have become enduring. Unfortunately, the storytellers didn’t learn anything from ABC’s monster series, Lost. Where Lost succeeded (and a show like Southland does, as well) was by focusing on two or three characters per episode, giving the viewers time to get to know them and relate to them. With each successive episode of Lost, a new character or characters were brought to the fore for their moment in the spotlight.
Flashforward crammed too many characters in a short period of time and, in doing so, seemed to lose its focus. The storytellers of Flashforward didn’t make us care for these characters and focused too much on the plot. Look at any modern show with longevity and you’ll see that it’s always the characters first and the huge story arc that comes second (the rare exception being Law & Order).
All of that said, watching the last five episodes of Flashforward became compelling as the story barreled down the the road to the day in April in which everyone saw their future. Perhaps because I was wtaching with lowered expectations, or perhaps because the producers really did figure out their show, but I had much more fun watching Flashforward as it raced to its end. I admit, when I heard these words, “There’s going to be another blackout” I groaned. But when it was presented in context, damn it, it worked. I kept watching until the bitter end and really found myself kind of pissed when…, oh hell, I’m not going to tell you the ending. That just wouldn’t be fair.
With the release of Flashforward: The Complete Series, fans and the curious can now get a look at the series as a whole. Although Flashforward will be looked at as a failure for years to come, the failure of the show can’t be place squarely on the shoulders of the producers. The programming people at ABC were the ones who took the show off the air for so damn long, ruining whatever momentum the show had. Moreover, ABC’s marketing department were the ones who insisted on telling the press that this show would be the next Lost. I guess that should be a lesson to the networks: Never compare a show to your big hits. Let your shows find their own voice and audience.
Flashforward: The Complete Series comes with a nice package of bonus features, including deleted scenes, a blooper reel and a look at the sets. “Architects of Destiny” is a cool behind the scenes feature that looks at the shows entire run and offers in-depth looks at the characters, and “Could” is a look at the second half of Flashforward’s season. Both of these features are the most interesting.
Flashforward: The Complete Series is available through Amazon.