Friday, December 4, 2009

'FlashForward:' No New Eps 'Til MARCH

* Warning, spoilers from recent episode of FlashForward. *

After an uneven first half of the season, ABC’s FlashForward made up for it with its last handful of new episodes which have propelled the story forward in interesting ways, while sprinkling in some character depth along the way. By having two scientists admit publicly that their experiment MAY have caused the killer global blackout -- in which people experienced two-plus minutes of a day six months into the future -- the show has moved beyond the crazy mess and muck of the plotlines involving a Nazi, black crows and suicide societies, which is a good thing.

I was just about to delete FlashForward from my DVR’s scheduled recordings – as I did with Fox’s Fringe which just couldn’t keep me hooked, as much as I am a fan of J.J. Abrams – when I saw the seventh episode, “The Gift,” where a FBI agent committed suicide in order to avoid having his flash-forward come true: That he accidentally kills a mother of two small children. “Live your life,” the man wrote in a letter to the woman whose life he saved by taking his own. “Live every day. And know that the future is unwritten. Make the most of that.” Although this appeared during the Fight Club-like suicide society episode, the FBI agent’s suicide was the most dramatic and interesting part as it established that the flash-forwards folks experienced were not inevitable.

The final new 2009 episode, “A561984” -- where we learned that FBI Agent (Now suspended? Fired?) Mark Benford was the man seen murdering his partner, Demetri Noh, in a mysterious CIA-linked woman’s flash-forward – provided another welcomed and unexpected twists, in addition to Demetri realizing he has to be concerned about his safety around his (former?) partner. The violent abduction of the now-reviled scientist Lloyd Simcoe, which left his son in the custody of his doctor, Olivia Benford, was likewise a smart move, unavoidably binding Lloyd and Olivia together after they shared an odd moment where she realized she almost moved into the building where Lloyd’s wife lived when he first met her. (The side story about Demetri’s fiancé Zoey realizing that her flash-forward wasn’t of their wedding, but of his memorial service, nicely nurtured the emotional, human thread of the episode.)

FlashForward’s behind-the-scenes staff has recently endured a bit of a shake-up, and there was a brief production stop in late November ordered by ABC execs in order to “boost the writing.” What does this mean for the show once it returns in the spring? Will we be treated to a smart and compelling drama that makes viewers care about the characters, or will we go back to that bad place with the crows and the Nazis and I delete it from my DVR's schedule? I’m hoping for the first option.

Image credit: ABC.

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