This evening I watched the first episode of ABC’s new series, FlashForward, and I’m officially hooked. The concept is fresh, the cast is good, and I’m seriously loving this vibe, but I can’t shake that it’s all somehow familiar. Kind of like déjà vu on TV, but the truth is, that’s more than just a coincidence.
While I can’t shake the feeling that the show reminds me a lot of the first season of Heroes, the real connection I can’t shake is the feeling that I’m watching a spin-off of ABC’s Lost. And I’m definitely not alone on this one, at least if you check with other Lost fans.
Set in a present-day America, FlashForward stars Joseph Fiennes and John Cho as FBI agents (Mark and Demetri), on a case that goes off the rails. In the middle of chasing suspected terrorists, the entire world blacks out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds. With mayhem across the globe, caused from every person going unconscious as they drive cars, fly planes, and operate heavy machinery, the death toll is astronomical, but the real question is why did it happen?
As everyone investigates, people realize that they didn’t black out so much as witness a scene from their own lives, six months in the future – on April 29, 2010 to be exact.
Since Mark is at the forefront of piecing this together, and his own vision has him working on the case (dubbed “Mosaic” in the future), it’s up to him and Demetri to try to figure out what’s happening.
Pretty interesting, right?
Looking at the Lost angle, right off the top I want to be realistic. It’s in ABC’s best interest to hook Lost fans on another series before Lost kicks the bucket early next year. So, making FlashForward somewhat Lost-like is a no-brainer in other words.
Some fans will also point to the show’s title as a hint to the Lost connection, since one whole season of Lost was devoted to “flash forwards”. However, Canadian author Robert J. Sawyer penned the original book in 1999 and appropriately enough, it was set in 2009 (in the book, the people of Earth also saw themselves 21 years in the future).
There’s also such a thing as pride in America, which means that if someone from Lost was involved in FlashForward, their name would be somewhere in the credits. Although I’ve only looked through some details, the only people from Lost involved with FlashForward seem to be a couple of actors, including Dominic Monaghan (who we haven’t met yet) and Sonya Walger (playing Mark’s wife, Olivia).
Setting all of that aside though, I’m willing to play the devil’s advocate once more. In fact, I want FlashForward to be a Lost spin-off, but I still find it hard to accept. Here are some of the reasons I am willing to consider that it’s a possibility though.
First off, while the book clearly had nothing to do with Lost, it seems like ABC, and creators Brannon Braga and David S. Goyer are adapting the work slightly. Since I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone, I’ll just say that the cause of the event in the book could definitely be adapted to fit within the Lost universe, especially if it were right at the point in the fifth season finale when Jughead went off, which potentially changed the course of time, and everyone’s fate on the island for the upcoming season. Maybe people in the rest of the world experienced their flash forward as a consequence?
At about 50 seconds into the premier the FlashForward opening title runs, and while it’s not that close, it’s basically just the words “Flash Forward” over a tonal sound. So, no opening music, no credits – just the show’s name – same as Lost.
At 6 minutes and 13 seconds into the episode, John Cho’s character seems to be staring out the window of the car at an advertisement for Lost‘s Oceanic Airlines. If you’ve watched the episode, you know that there’s a question as to whether Demetri will be alive in six months since he didn’t have a flash forward. I wonder then if his character dies in an Oceanic Airlines crash.
On the one hand, that doesn’t mean the shows are connected, it just gives a nod to Lost while also giving a good reason as to how Demetri bites it. The name has actually been used a lot in film and television, the only difference this time is that FlashForward is using the same logo for the airline as Lost.
I’ve read on a few message boards that one of the show’s writers/creators said they put the ad in as an homage, but this could still be a real hint that there is a connection between the shows. In fact, it’s the best hint.
We’re getting a bit more tenuous here, but starting at around 11 minutes into the episode, Mark has a very similar experience to Matthew Fox’s character of Jack in Lost with the airplane on the beach being replaced with a gas tanker on a street. In FlashForward the tanker explodes, shrapnel goes flying, and shortly after we get a big, epic shot of the devastation around Mark – much like we see around Jack in the first episode of Lost.
Again, this could be coincidence, but it feels uniquely appropriate to this connection discussion.
Finally, FlashForward suggests that the date of April 29, 2010, the date that people see when they black out, is important on multiple levels and I can imagine at least two reasons why. In the “FlashCard” videos on ABC.com the creators note that the date is important, and it’s simple to guess that the show will have its finale on that date (it’s a Thursday, after all).
The other interesting side of this is that Lost will very likely be near its series finale around that date. Last year, April 29 was also the date of Lost‘s 100th episode (a pretty important one called “The Variable”). Important? Probably not, but still interesting.
If I had to put my odds on anything it’s that FlashForward is just a lot like Lost, has borrowed a few elements to win some fans, and has merely given a few friendly nods to that series.
Truth is, if FlashForward were connected to Lost, wouldn’t ABC have promoted that fact somehow, or left bigger hints to draw in viewers? I’d imagine so. Even if the connection was minor I think there would have been more hints leading into the show’s debut, particularly in terms of some viral campaign.
I’m still going to wish for some Lost connections and tie-ins, because I like the idea, but even as I come up with ways that it works, it still doesn’t make sense. Subtlety is not a strong point of the American entertainment industry, and joining two divergent series together without any promotion is just way too subtle for me to believe.
(Canadians looking for FlashForward can find it on CTV’s A channel, or online at watch.ctv.ca/flashforward/. Hopefully, CTV will have some sense and ditch one of their crappy cop shows soon so FlashForward can move over, but I’m not betting on it since they pushed Lost off of CTV and over to A last year.)
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