During the week, the last episode of Flash Forward was screened for a while. It being a US show that is, unusually, being broadcast at nearly the same time in the UK, this means we’ve also got one of the US scheduling habits imported with the show – the mid-season break. The next new episode won’t appear until next year.
(The mid-season break, incidentally, is why so many US shows have episodes preceded by blurb advertising the episode as being “all new”. During the mid-season breaks, repeats of older episodes are often shown, so even if you are in the time period between the first and last episodes of a season being shown, it isn’t always obvious whether or not the next one will be new or a repeat. That at least explains “new”. The “all” bit is what you get when you mix American exuberance with marketing disdain for sparse language.)
Surprisingly, given the love of stuffing all manner of cliffhangers into just the one episode in the past, the mid-season cliff hanger was rather weak. Yes, it involved some new bad guys. Yes, it involved some shooting. Yes, it involved some main characters being shocked and looking anguished. But that’s the staple of all cliff hangers of such shows. For a mid-season cliffhanger you really need something more.
Several previous cliffhangers had far more shock and plot intrigue about them than this one, which is a shame given this one has to sustain our interest during the break. (Or, alternatively, get the excellent book by Robert J Sawyer on which the series is loosely based and read that during the gap.)
Meanwhile, we were also treated to documentary on the making of the show so far. In amongst the usual gushing stuff (yes, it’s a fabulous cast, yes, it’s an amazing script, yes, it’s the best team to work with EVER, and so on) were some good bits.
The mystery kangaroo was revealed to have been a deliberate quirky joke rather than a serious plot clue (unless there’s some double-bluff going on and the show will reveal the whole plot to be driven by power mad kangaroos who want to expand their empire over the world?). Ironically, that scene turned out to be a real pain to make and the resulting extra special effects required to patch over the problems made it one of the most expensive in the series.
We were also promised that all the substantive plot questions would be concluded by the end of the season, even though the Flash Forward team have plans for further series beyond that.
Meanwhile, we wait to see what the second half of the first series will bring. Take the best bits of the first half together and there is an excellent series in the making. Combine the worst bits and you’ve got something cringe-inducingly bad. So here’s hoping…
UPDATE: The second half of the series will start screening in the UK in March 2010.