Friday, May 14, 2010

In the Wake of LOST

Several months ago, at the beginning of ABC’s fall season, I truly liked what I saw of FlashForward. Even the title promised that the new series learned something from old favorite LOST’s flashes forward, backward, and sideways. The pilot episode intrigued me, and if the lead character was more protagonist than true hero, I could live with that. An Oceanic airline advert even popped up on screen, and I started comparing kangaroos with polar bears.

Unfortunately, I should’ve been equating Oceanic 815’s crash to the new series; it would’ve been a more apt predictor of FlashForward’s fate. Today came the announcement that FlashForward is dead. I wonder what the actors in that pilot episode saw in their flashforwards six months ago.

One of the highlights of FlashForward has been Dominic Monaghan’s Simon, a decidedly uncuddly character, unlike the actor’s previously high-profile roles. Simon is calculating, cold brilliance. If ratings-conscious networks and producers learn anything from FlashForward, may it be that Dominic Monaghan is an actor to watch.

FlashForward dived into TV’s murky waters at a time when ABC began seriously fishing for a successor to LOST, whose May 23 “The End”-ing follows FlashForward’s funeral by a few days. LOST’s finale is a wake for the no-longer-flashing-anywhere series but also a celebration of its transcendence into another elevated dimension of television. It now becomes one of those great, often-lamented series that changed TV.

With the loss of LOST and FlashForward, ABC steps back from the ledge that is original science fiction programming. It still has V, a far better remake of a 1980s miniseries, but that’s not a risk-taking series like LOST (such as inserting a mythology episode with only a handful of hours left) or an innovative story, again like LOST or its struggling wannabe FlashForward. Fans often joke that the dead can come back to life because anything is possible in science fiction. I don’t want to see LOST zombies or clones clogging the networks, but I truly hope that thought-provoking, character-driven, action-laced SF can rise from the dead on network TV.

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