And of course, that means spoilers.
Well, the showrunner-approved ones anyway. Journalists were threatened with having their press passes revoked, the silent treatment invoked and other menacing consequences if we were to reveal some of the pilot’s sixth-act surprises during a screening of “FlashForward” Wednesday night in Burbank. So we’re not going to do that.
Luckily, the event also supplied alcohol, which loosened showrunners David S. Goyer and Marc Guggenheim’s lips about other spoilers that we may share with you, the hungry readers.
Before we jump into the fray, a little background: “FlashForward” is based on Robert J. Sawyer’s novel about a mysterious global phenomenon — everyone keels over, blacking out at exactly the same time for about two minutes. During this time, they all have visions of their future. How did this happen? What does this mean? Will the future come true?
“FlashForward” — Yes, all one word (the opposite of a flashback), but with the capital “F” in the middle.
What’s different from the book: 1) The so-called flashforwards are only for six months hence, not 20 years. 2) The main characters are not quantum physicists, so the TV-viewing audience will find them more relatable. 3) The overarching reason behind the flashfowards are different from the novel. As Guggenheim sagely observes, “We’re not schmucks.”
April 29, 2010 – This is the date that everyone flashforwards to. No, this isn’t the season finale. Goyer explains, “I think it’s natural for the audience to assume that we’re just going to vamp until episodes 20 and 21, and then a bunch of s***’s going to happen. We’ve already finished [shooting] the first seven episodes, and it will become crystal clear by the end of those seven episodes that that’s not what we’re doing. We’re never going to lie to the audience. We’re going to play by the rules.”
2 minutes and 17 seconds – This is the amount of time that everyone is “out” and visiting April 29 in their visions. Goyer promises that there will be an answer for why it’s that specific length of time.
An end is in sight – Having begun the development process before the writers’ strike, plenty of work has been done on the story, so a finale, complete with answers to everything, is known. What’s unknown is just how long ABC will want to run this thing.
Goyer: “We did a bible and planned out the whole first season. We know what the second season is about. [We can end it in three seasons]. We can extend it to six to seven seasons. There are potentially 6.8 billion stories to tell.”
How much we’ll actually be told – Goyer: “At the end of the first season … all the glimpses of the future that you’ve seen of our series regulars, that we’ve teased, we will know whether those particular futures have come to pass or not.”
There’s no real “Lost” connection – Other than Sonya Walger (Desmond’s Penny from “Lost”) getting cast, nada. Goyer: “It was written as a spec and originally was even anticipated to be an HBO show. So it wasn’t written at all for ABC or to be a ‘Lost’ replacement. And I think the comparisons are accurate in that we also have a very large cast and are telling a very big, cinematic, ambitious story, but I think once you see the pilot … that’s where the similarities end.”
Dominic Monaghan – Yeah, we couldn’t find out if our favorite castaway/hobbit was involved either, but we tried.
Seth MacFarlane – You’ve already seen the “Family Guy” creator in the first-look video clip. He apparently liked reading the pilot script so much, he called the “FF” team up, asked to be in the pilot and got cast as part of the FBI team investigating The Blackout. It’s likely he’ll be back as a recurring character.
Globetrotting – The Blackout was a worldwide phenomenon, so don’t expect the show to stay put in the U.S. The first 13 episodes will take place in six countries. One of the episodes will take place in Dubai and have the requisite subtitles.
DVD content – The intricate stories of the main 10 characters have been meticulously plotted out, beat by beat, on a mega-bulletin board made of six regular-sized ones — three wide, two high. Guggenheim says they’ve been taking snapshots of the board periodically — not only as insurance in case something happens to the boards and all is lost, but also to place on the DVD a visual summary of the many changes that have taken place while developing the story.
Mosaic website – We already know about The Mosaic Collective website from the 5-second promos of “FlashForward” during “Lost.” This will be a plot device, an actual website in which everyone in the world will be able to input what their flashforward was and cross-reference it to others. It will become the ultimate in social networking and become part of the vocabulary in the show: “I Mosaic-ed you.” As viewers, we’ll also be able to input our own vision, and there will be some mysterious programming in there to give us an actual result.
Liars – Some characters on the show will lie about their visions for various reasons — embarrassment, horror, denial, deceit, picking up women or what have you.
Rock star’s vision – In an aspiring musician’s vision, he discovers that he’s made it in six months’ time because he sees himself on stage being cheered by adoring fans. And just as he’s about to play his signature song, the one that makes him famous, the 2:17 expires, leaving him wondering what the song he has yet to write will be. Since everyone else’s visions take place during the same period of time, even the people in the audience can’t say what the song is.
Celebrities unlikely – There probably won’t be a meta element of having real-life celebrities playing themselves on the show and professing to have a vision. Goyer: “We haven’t decided where to break the fourth wall or not. My gut instinct is not to do that.”
Animal antics – An animal is seen in the pilot that Goyer says we’ll see again. Also, we will get the answer about whether or not animals also experienced the flashforward.
“FlashForward” will debut on Thursday, Sept. 24 on ABC.
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