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Herc’s Seen ABC’s Braga/Goyer Sci-Fi Pilot FLASHFORWARD!!

I am – Hercules!!
The best part of the “FlashForward” pilot is easily its first 18 minutes, which you can watch right here right now:
It’s a lot like the beginning of “Lost,” is it not? Guy wakes up confused and gradually discovers and deals with the cinematic mayhem that has risen up around him. There’s even a difficult-to-explain kangaroo subbing for the “Lost” pilot’s polar bear. So that first part with the wreckage and the corpses? Well-copied. But the “FlashForward” pilot was adapted not by super-successful writer-director J.J. Abrams, but by Brannon Braga (creator of “Star Trek: Enterprise”) and David Goyer (writer-director of “Blade Trinity”), who previously created CBS’ “Threshold.” Which was not remotely as good or as successful as “Lost.” Once the mayhem is dealt with viewers may start to notice two other major things that distinguish “FastForward” from “Lost”: 1) Everybody on screen is catching on to what’s going on a lot more slowly than the audience is. Which gets boring. And annoying. 2) None of the show’s many characters (or their flashforwards) is terribly interesting or engaging. At the end of the “Lost” pilot you were dying to know not only what was going on with Smokezilla and that bizarre French radio signal but also what the deal was with handcuffed Kate and evasive Charlie and the vaguely sinister Locke. Even less mysterious characters like Shannon and Hurley were so entertaining in their own ways that viewers were excited at the prospect of spending more time with them as well. Less problematic for “FlashForward” is the fact that the “Threshold” series creators apparently took a couple liberties with the the sci-fi novel by Robert J. Sawyer, in which, thanks to a super-high-energy experiment gone wrong, everyone in the world passes out and experiences two minutes and 17 seconds of his or her own life 21 years in the future. The TV version of the premise, maybe slightly less brimming with potential, puts the flashforwards only several months ahead, and nobody knows what caused them. In the final minute of the pilot we are given a clue of sorts, and it makes for a great ending. If you’re impatient and don’t mind spoilers you can find how here. The date everyone flashes forward to, April 29, 2010, is a Thursday, and a key new episode of “FlashForward” is currently slated to air on that date. If this series gets that far against “Survivor,” “SNL Thursday,” “Bones” and “Vampire Diaries,” that episode will likely NOT be the season finale, according to Goyer. In the flashforward experienced by the Joe Fiennes FBI character, the Fiennes character is seen investigating the cause of the flashforward. But even though everyone learns the exact future date and time of the two-plus minutes their memories will capture, no one in the flashforwards makes an effort to surround themselves with useful ballscore tables and/or stock market charts. So apparently the flashforward event paradoxically changes the timing of -- or eliminates -- the big communal flashforward. Or something. “Lost” vet Dominic Monaghan is not in the pilot but does turn up, I believe, as a superscientist in episode two. If you watched the clip above you may have recognized the doctor is embodied by Sonya Walger, who plays Penny Widmore on “Lost.” Insufferable “Family Guy” mastermind Seth MacFarlane, who cameos in the pilot as an FBI man, is a horrible distraction. He uses for his “FlashForward” role the same obnoxious deejay voice he uses to play the dog in “Family Guy.” Let’s try to keep his particular brand of unfunny confined to Fox, shall we fellas? I’m setting the DVR for episode two, but this pilot does not convince me “FlashForward” is season-passworthy. Time Magazine says:
… I wish more attention had been paid to fleshing out the characters and generally bringing a fresher voice to the dialogue. (Someday, I want someone to bring a cool high-concept like this to a producer like Jason Katims, who can play it out realistically through rounded characters, as he did on Roswell.) … Do I Want to Watch Another Episode? Absolutely. But please work on making these folks as appealing conscious as they are unconscious.
USA Today says:
From its unsettling opening image to its startling final shot, FlashForward could be the best network movie you'll see this year. Now let's hope it's an equally good series. … may not keep you hooked for years or even months, but chances are good tonight's episode will bring you back next week.
The New York Times says:
… begins in such a spirit of bracing suspense that I am challenged to recall another pilot that lured me so quickly into addiction. … has the sobriety and charge of the best, early days of “24” but builds its tension more gracefully and feels reluctant to be get subsumed by its own philosophizing. And like “Battlestar Galactica,” its has a presumed message that is humanistic and uplifting: No single messiah can save us; it takes a village to save the world.
The Los Angeles Times says:
… a decent but not brilliant beginning. … Given the subject, it's almost appropriate how unusually difficult it is to get a fix on the show. The pilot is melodramatically eventful, though the dialogue can sound phony. But the show could go either way -- be kind of great or pretty awful, depending on what comes next, how the writers plan to explain this thing and whether we are going to have any fun on the way to the explanation. … we have seen a lot of doctors and FBI agents on TV -- four of the main characters work for the bureau -- and spent a lot of time on the streets of Los Angeles. We may need more than parlor tricks to take us out of that all-too-familiar world. My crystal ball remains cloudy on this matter.
The Chicago Tribune says:
… Elements that generally work in the two-hour pilot's favor -- a big budget, a flashy central concept and a handsome ensemble cast -- also work against it because those are the hallmarks of several ABC pilots that have crashed and burned in their debut seasons. … What "FlashFoward" lacks, at this point, is a Sawyer or a Hurley; don't look to this serious pilot for wisecracks or regular-Joe wisdom. …
The Washington Post says:
… Immediately apparent from the premiere of "FlashForward": The questions may prove more satisfying than the answers, a bad sign. … "FlashForward," with lots of flash-cut editing (oddly offset with long, slow dialogue scenes) and some eye-pleasing special effects, seems a show very much of today and today's version of tomorrow and maybe even tomorrow's version of today. But if it were a little less ditzy and a little more clear-cut, it might stand a better chance of seeing tomorrow itself.
The San Francisco Chronicle says:
… enormously entertaining and there's mystery galore here, with an expansive cast, an unexplained phenomenon and the tantalizing premise … Here's hoping it stays strong and compelling as it heads to April 29.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says:
… suspenseful, disaster-filled entertainment. But will what comes next be as entertaining? If only we could flash forward to find out. …
The Newark Star Ledger says:
Ambitious but not terribly engaging … An interesting idea, but placed in the middle of a bland cast of characters (including Joseph Fiennes as an FBI agent and Sonya Walger as his doctor-wife) and execution that lacks much urgency. …
The Boston Herald says:
… Every season there seems to be one water-cooler show everyone ends up talking about. “FlashForward” is it: Get in on the first episode. …
The Boston Globe says:
… Tonight’s episode is dramatic and well-paced, unfolding ominously and quickly explaining the issues at hand. The problem, of course, is the future. What “Lost’’ had on its side was a desert-island setting, plus a sprawling and quirky ensemble cast with a range of back stories to spin. … “FlashForward’’ is a good idea, and while that’s no guarantee of a good series, the first hour gives us reason to hope.
Variety says:
… Strictly grading the pilot, it's an intriguing, mind-bending concept that's mostly well executed, with a built-in payoff cleverly timed to coincide with the May rating sweeps. The bottom line is after one hour, there's a solid desire to see more, but not such wonderment as to proclaim unwavering fealty until the show peers a little farther down the road. …
The Hollywood Reporter says:
… The investigation of this consciousness-shattering global phenomenon is assumed by the Los Angeles bureau of the FBI, which is a little like giving Mr. Kotter's science class responsibility for checking out global warming. (In Sawyer's book, particle physicists tackled the issue, but when was the last time you saw one of those on TV?) … Well-cast and full of expensive-looking special effects, "FlashForward" should hook a respectable number of viewers with its combination of surprise and suspense. …
Find Kathy Lyford's partially AICN-talkback-inspired chat with David Goyer here. 8 p.m. Thursday. ABC.

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