EPISODE REVIEW: Flash Forward: “No More Good Days” (Season 1, Episode 1)

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Tonight begins premiere week (for us, anyway) with a big budget S-F show that will be compared to another extremely successful ABC show. How was it? How does it compare? And why is there a kangaroo?
Tons of spoilers after the jump

Play by play:
We start with chaos-- It feels like the LOST crash, but it is carnage in the streets. Cars, blood, man on fire...

And we run the opening credits.
4 hours earlier... in a rather disjointed narrative:

Shakespeare (from Shakespeare in Love) is getting out of bed with Penny Widmore. except in this show, her name is Olivia...

We see a man on a pier with a gun, who seems to be suicidal.

Mark (Shakespeare) goes to an AA meeting while his babysitter is doing her boyfriend in Marks living room.

We learn that Mark is an FBI agent , his partner is name Dmitri (even though he's played by John Cho). They are surveilling someone, who promptly 'makes' them... and a car chase ensues.
We see flashes of all the characters we've met so far
And suddenly a dream state comes on Will Mark
We see some fractured images as Will blacks out
Everybody has blacked out... and they awake to absolute and total chaos. Every car, tanker and truck on the road is wrecked and burning, helicopters are falling out of the sky. At the beach, bodies are washing up on shore. At Mark's house, the babysitter runs up to check on Mark and Olivia's kid.... who says she had a bad dream... that there would be no more good days.

Mark and Dmitri are approached by a mob wondering what happened. Faced with the enormity of it all, Dmitri tells Mark to go to Olivia (who's a surgeon at a nearby hospital).

On the way, Mark encounters a kangaroo in the middle of the street. (Apparently there weren't any polar bears available)

Exposition News Network is broadcasting that it's a global event...

And finally, a commercial.

Mark calls Olivia, who's really busy with victims, one of which is a critically injured child who mysteriously knows Olivia's name. They compare notes, Mark arrives at FBI HQ; somewhere in here four hours have elapsed. Apparently the whole human race "shut off" for 2 minutes and 17 seconds. Mark relates that during the 'blackout' he saw April 29, 2010, at 10pm. Other agents collaborate this, right down to the time.

Dmitri has brought in the blonde terrorist that they were pursuing. Al Gough (another agent) figures out how to confirm the visions. Other agents are volunteering info, except for Dmitri, who saw nothing, and has a pretty healthy dose of skepticism. The department head puts them in charge, after we realize that he was in the bathroom in his 'flash-forward'.

To start their investigation, Dmitri and Mark try to recreate Mark's investigation board from his flash-forward. (Nifty way to start an investigation... begin at the end!) Dmitri is bothered by the fact that he had no vision. Mark suggests that he was sleeping; Dmitri believes that he's taking The Big Sleep.

Mark talks to his troubled babysitter-she's scared. Olivia talks to suicide guy, who's apparently another doctor. His vision revealed that he was alive- and he's believing that he was saved for a second chance; Olivia, however, says she saw the end of her marriage

Mark is talking to his AA sponsor- he was drinking in his flash-forward. Olivia will leave him if he drinks again (click: a puzzle piece fits into place). His sponsor, however, saw his daughter--alive-- who he'd believed killed in action in the Mid East. While Mark is afraid that the flash-forwards are true; his sponsor is afraid that they aren't.

Olivia and Mark finally get back together and have a tender, quiet moment until they try to talk about the flash forwards. She is upset... she was with another man... and in love.

We meet her lover, he is the father of the child she saved; the one who knew Olivia's name. His name is Lloyd Simcoe.

Mark's daughter wakes up and gives him a friendship bracelet- one he is wearing in his flash forward.

Dmitri is talking to his fiance on the phone, when the third agent in their team discovers that not everybody was asleep....

Observations:

This show is going to be compared to LOST, whether fairly or unfairly. The comparison is apt- in a post LOST science fiction series that deals with some of the same themes, even if they are treated in a completely different way. Let's face it, LOST is the elephant in the middle of the room. You can either studiously ignore it and hope nobody notices, or you can homage it and move on.

Thankfully, it looks like Flash Forward chose the second option.

The characters are likable, and the mystery is compelling. I'm also rather impressed with the scope. Since I acknowledged the 'elephant', I might as well make some comparisons. While LOST is about secrets, Flash Forward is about revelations. There's too much information to sift through, and everybody is forthcoming about what they saw. LOST is about isolation, however I have a gut feeling that Flash Forward is about community.

Unanswered Questions
Nearly all of them. It's the pilot, fergoodnesssakes.
A couple stand out, though.
What caused the Flash Forwards? Why? And why did Dmitri not have one? His fiance premembers (like that word? Made it up myself) him as alive, soo...
Who is the dark figure who is moving about while everybody else is blacked out?

It already looks like the future is deterministic; the collaboration exercises tend to prove that.... so again, why did they happen?

Definitely worth a watch, though. It'll be rerun tomorrow night, if you're not in the mood to watch Smallville with me.

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