One of the most anticipating new TV series of this past fall was "FlashForward," which many critics thought would be the new "Lost" for ABC.
Set around some "Lost"-style sci-fi, mystery and themes, "FlashForward" built a complex story around a single event -- a blackout around the world in which everyone saw two minutes into their own futures -- and the aftermath of that event.
Around the mysteries behind the event were several storylines as people dealt with the realities of their fates and tried to interpret what they meant, or in the case of one FBI agent, what not having a flash forward meant for him.
After a strong ratings start, "FlashForward" started to lose fans who felt that either the story was too confusing or moved along at too slow a fate. "FlashForward" also struggled against the spectre of "Lost," now in its final season and finally answering that series' lingering questions.
"FlashForward" has also had a series of changes behind the scenes, in which original showrunners Marc Guggenheim and David Goyer left the series and have been replaced. The show has been off the air for three months so that scripts could be retooled.
The declining ratings, the deck shuffling and the cost of the show have many flashing forward to the show's fate and not seeing a second season. I think that would be a shame, because I still believe the show has a lot of potential.
Tonight's two-hour return (ABC, 8 p.m.) picks up where we last left off, with FBI agent Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes) having been suspended for pursuing a lead about his partner's apparent upcoming murder.
It also picks up with the two British physicists who believe they are the cause of the blackout. In fact, we get major revelations as to the history of one of the physicists (Dominic Monaghan) and his relationship to a mysterious villain (Ricky Jay) while the investigation continues to move forward. In addition, we're also introduced to a man (Gil Bellows) who becomes a preacher as a result of the blackout, who could be a major player.
One wonders if "FlashForward" had debuted six years ago and "Lost" was the newer series, would "FlashForward" be enjoying "Lost's" cult-like devotion? Or is the "Lost" formula so special that it came along at the perfect time, and any other series trying to follow a similar formula is doomed to failure?
Or, is "Lost" simply better?
While I think "Lost" is better, it's more due to the fact that it has six years of mysteries and storylines I've followed and become invested in. Do I have the same emotional investment into "FlashForward?" Of course not. But given time, I might.
There's a lot of good stuff in "FlashForward," and I hope viewers give it a second chance.
THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: Tonight kicks off three weekends of "March Madness," or as I like to think, "March Blandness," because I've watched one basketball game all year. CBS will be airing the games pretty much all day throughout the weekend, so expect some reruns from the other networks.
The lone other new stuff besides "FlashForward" is the NBC sitcoms from 8-10 p.m., followed by "The Marriage Ref," with guests Jason Alexander, Martha Stewart and Cedric The Entertainer, who will have a tough time matching last week's panel of Larry David, Madonna and Ricky Gervais.
On cable, "Archer" (FX, 10 p.m.) wraps up a very funny first season.