FLASHFORWARD (2009)

(VOD)? FLASHFORWARD was a post-LOST high-concept ensemble show (based on Robert J. Sawyer’s novel of the same name) helmed by David S. Goyer (who has penned everything from DARK CITY to BATMAN V SUPERMAN). Due to reasons that are (very slowly) exposed over the show’s first season, every human in the world blacks out for 137 seconds which, as you can imagine, was very unfortunate for anyone in an automobile or airplane at the time. However, the majority of folks encountered a vision of what appears to be their life in six months, hence the title of the show. Notably, some people didn’t see anything, and some of those people believe that means they won’t be alive in six months, and more than a few of those folks -do not- react reasonably to that thought.

It features Mark Benford (Joseph Finnes, popular for the best-forgotten SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE) as focal character FBI agent investigating ‘the incident’, and he’s also a recovering alcoholic. (In his flash-forward, he’s fallen off the wagon). Mark’s FBI partner is Demetri Noh (John Cho, HAROLD & KUMAR, the rebooted STAR TREK films, and also pops up as Billy Eichner’s boyfriend on the previously recommended DIFFICULT PEOPLE). Courtney B. Vance (THE PEOPLE V. O.J. SIMPSON) plays the FBI director overseeing Mark and Demetri, and Mark’s wife is surgeon Dr. Olivia Benford (Sonya Walger, one the best parts of LOST). LOST’s Dominic Monaghan portrays a scientist (which is a bit of a stretch, James Callis (the rebooted BATTLESTAR GALACTICA but also the previously recommended 12 MONKEYS TV series) is peppered into a few eps as are Gabrielle Union and Annabeth Gish. Also, sadly-departed magician Ricky Jay brings his skills to a handful of episodes.

So, FLASHFORWARD has an intriguing concept, a versatile storytelling engine, a fantastic cast, and a significant budget, so you probably expect me to write that it’s an underrated one-season wonder.

You would be wrong.

This is not a great show. It spends too much time spinning its wheels, the characters are extraordinarily one-dimensional and uninspired, and the dialogue is very clunky. It’s not a terrible show, but it never finds its footing, and I doubt if it would have even if it had been renewed.

So, why am I recommending it? I’m recommending it solely for one supremely stupid recurring exchange between husband and wife Mark and Olivia that is clearly intended to be a sarcastic-but-cute inside joke:

“I hate you.”

“I hate you too.”

I have no idea whether this is in the original novel. It does seem like a lift from WHEN HARRY MET SALLY but, when I watched the series with my wife, we had forgotten about that comedic bit. The same exchange also occurs between Alain Delon and Ann-Margret in ONCE A THIEF (1965) and — when delivered by them — it’s comedic and even sexy.

Fiennes and Walger — while normally being very winsome actors — can’t pull it off. Sadly, they have little romantic charisma together, but also it’s just poorly framed because they aren’t complex characters.

To the show’s credit, it’s worth noting that Olivia’s flash-forward is that she’s with another man, so it’s a bit of unsubtle foreshadowing, but it still rang hollow when we watched it when it was first broadcast.

Since then, my wife and I often jokingly bring up that poorly executed exchange so, in a way, it was inadvertently effective writing. While it’s an exchange that has been handled far better in more memorable works, it’s FLASHFORWARD’s use of it that’s become our inside joke.