Since the premiere of "Lost" in 2004, networks introduced a surfeit of serialized, large-ensemble, mythological dramas, but this fall there's really just one: ABC's "FlashForward," which begins with an adrenaline-fueled, disaster-movie worthy pilot (8 tonight, WTAE).
The premise: Seemingly everyone on the planet blacks out for a little more than two minutes. Airplanes crash, patients die on operating tables, surfers drown.
FBI agent Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes, "Shakespeare in Love") and his partner, Demetri Noh (John Cho, "Star Trek," "Harold & Kumar") begin investigating the phenomenon, and Benford soon realizes that he and most everyone else saw themselves in the future -- on April 29, 2010, to be precise -- during the blackout. For some, there's excitement over where their lives will be six months in the future; for others, they have reason to react with dread.
- When: 8 p.m. Thursday, ABC
In addition to the two agents, the ensemble includes Benford's surgeon wife (Sonya Walger, "Lost"), her suicidal co-worker (Zachary Knighton), the Benfords' teenage babysitter (Peyton List) and Mark's Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor (Brian F. O'Byrne).
In an odd, semi-distracting cameo (if you recognize him), "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane appears as a random FBI agent.
The FBI agents work to piece together what's happened in a logical progression, but the "FlashForward" premiere avoids clunky exposition in favor of revealing character.
The special effects are strong -- fires burn in the skyscrapers of Downtown Los Angeles -- and there are enough throw-away bits of weirdness (a kangaroo bounces down the street) to satisfy "Lost"-philes.
Whether a fantastic series follows tonight's strong pilot, well, it would take a flash forward to know for sure. But the show does offers a strong premiere that brims with future possibility.
Contact TV editor Rob Owen at email@example.com or 412-263-1112. Read the Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv.