FLASHFORWARD PRE-Game: New ABC Series' Writers Talk


If there's one thing that's obvious about FlashForward, the new series on ABC that just debuted last week, it's that mysteries abound.

Although the show has an ensemble cast, the first episode centered around Mark Benford, played by Joseph Fiennes ("The Escapist"), an FBI agent who blacked out during a high-speed car chase, only to wake up seeing the world in a state of chaos. Apparently, everyone on the planet went unconscious at the same time, for 2 minutes and 17 seconds, and nobody knows why.

But the real mystery of the blackouts is that everyone experienced a glimpse of the future while they were unconscious. Each person on earth had some sort of "flash forward" to what they will be doing six months in the future on April 29, 2010.

Viewers learned that Mark saw a bulletin board filled with clues about the mystery of the flash forwards, while his wife Olivia saw herself having an affair with a man she didn't even recognize. His daughter, Charlie, awoke to state she saw "no more good days."

Perhaps the creepiest of all the flash forwards was experienced by Mark's partner, Demetri, played by actor John Cho ("Star Trek"). During his 2 minutes and 17 seconds unconscious, Demetri saw nothing – making him wonder if he is going to die in the next six months.

And adding to the eeriness of it all was surveillance footage of a Tigers baseball game that was found by one of the show's characters. Although the crowd was all unconscious during the worldwide blackouts, one person in a trenchcoat was clearly awake, walking mysteriously around the masses of passed out fans.

There are plenty of mysteries to ponder, including why the flash forwards happened and whether it can all be prevented. The show's co-creator David Goyer ("The Dark Knight") promises that the answers will start coming fast.

Beginning a new series of interviews on Newsarama with the writing staff of the FlashForward television show, Newsarama begins with producer/writer Marc Guggenheim, who Newsarama readers also know as the writer of comics like Resurrection and The Flash. In fact, his final arc on Amazing Spider-Man, "Who is Ben Reilly?," begins next week.

While we spoke in detail to Guggenheim before the first episode was aired, this time we talk about what happened last week as viewers watched the set-up for what's to come in FlashForward.

Newsarama: Marc, to start, how was the premiere for you? Did you watch it with other people?

Marc Guggenheim: You know, it's really, really exciting. We watched the pilot with the cast and crew. We had a little get-together the night of the premiere. We all watched it live. I have to say it's been a really exciting ride thus far. The feedback and the response to the show has been really overwhelming. A lot of people have been drawing comparisons, internally, saying, "Oh, this is what it was like when Lost started, in terms of you feeling like you're at the forefront of a phenomenon. I can only hope! My fingers are crossed. But so far, it's been really exciting to get the show out into the world and see people's responses, which has been really, really positive.

Nrama: As we've confirmed with you before, and as your preview for upcoming episodes also indicated, the 2 minutes and 17 second has a meaning, right?

Guggenheim: Yes, it absolutely has a significance. And we start to explore that significance in Episode 3.

Nrama: And April 29, 2010. Is there a reason that date was picked?

Guggenheim: Yeah, that was also a very deliberate selection, and you'll get an explanation for that in future seasons, not necessarily future episodes. Future seasons.

Nrama: We've been told the show will reach April 29th on April 29th next year, but there a plan for what comes after April 29th, right? That's not the end of the show?

Guggenheim: There is more story. April 29th isn't even the season finale.

Nrama: There are tons of questions we could ask about all the little hints on the bulletin board in Mark's flash forward, particularly that nod to Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons. But instead of asking for spoilers related to that board, how difficult was it to come up with clues that don't give mystery away, and will there continue to be little clues like that?

Guggenheim: I wasn't involved with the development of the pilot, and those Easter eggs are really the brainchild of David Goyer, who co-created the show and directed the pilot. But it's a tradition we endeavored to continue on in Episodes 2 and beyond. So don't stop looking for Easter eggs. There are more to follow.

Nrama: That was a nice Easter egg in there with the Oceanic Airlines billboard.

Guggenheim: We're friends with Damon and Carlton, and they've been incredibly supportive of us and the show. We had to cover up that billboard with something, and it seemed logical to offer a tip of the cap to Lost. We hope to do more of that in the future.

Nrama: But how does Penny from Lost change her identity to Olivia? Did Ben get her papers? And how did Charlie come back to life?

Guggenheim: [laughs] The one thing I will say is that this show does not take place in the same universe as Lost. Not at all. Just like when an Oceanic billboard shows up in a Marvel comic it doesn't mean that the Marvel Universe and the Lost universe are the same. There are some concepts that transcend parallel worlds.

Nrama: One thing that was odd about the first episode was Mark seeing a kangaroo in the middle of the street in L.A. Was that something significant, or just a random joke you guys threw in?

Guggenheim: I'm not sure I would use the word "significant," but I will promise that A) You'll see the kangaroo again; and B) You will find out what the kangaroo as doing on the streets that day.

Nrama: Are there clues in other people's flash forwards that give hints about the mystery Mark and his colleagues are trying to figure out? We saw a meeting in England, for example, that had some names attached to it. So outside that bulletin board, are there other hints we should be looking for in other flash forwards to solve the mystery of this event?

Guggenheim: The short answer is yes. Other people's flash forwards will have significance, beyond Mark's.

Nrama: How much will all the internet tie-ins help viewers unravel the mystery?

Guggenheim: The rule that David and I set for ourselves with the online stuff is two-fold. First of all, we consider the online stuff canon, in the sense that it does take place in the universe of our show. The characters that appear online are characters that exist in the FlashForward universe. That having been said, we're not going to solve a major mystery online. The online component is really for additional depth, another layer of the story if you're interested. If you're not interested, that's OK.

It's sort of like a tie-in to a crossover event, to use comic books terms. You know, the tie-in is great to add flavor to the crossover, but if you just want to pick up the crossover event, you're fine following the story.

Nrama: Another thing that was noticeable in the first episode was that a lot of people mentioned things that happen in the future with politicians and sports figures, things they saw on the news or in the headlines of newspapers. Is that just thrown in there for reality, or is it something we should pay attention to?

Guggenheim: My hope is that people pay attention to everything in the show. I would say nothing is chosen at random. Nearly everything has significance. We have a lot of story to tell. A lot of times, we've already laid in seeds for things we're not sure yet if we're going to have the opportunity to get to in the first season, but one of the fun aspects of the show is watching how the future as we foresaw it comes to pass.

Nrama: Will we see more about why Charlie – and I don't mean Charlie from Lost this time, but the Mark and Olivia's little girl Charlie – will we see more about why she said "there are no more good days" about her flash forward?

Guggenheim: Yes, you'll definitely want to tune in to Episode 2.

Nrama: What can we look forward to tonight on the second episode?

Guggenheim: We'll certainly see more of Charlie. And what she saw in her flash forward really figures front and center in the episode. The other things you can expect are more signs the future is happening.

And because this is Newsarama, I'll say the episode starts off with a really kick-ass visual effect. It's not in any of the trailers. It's a very cool, ambitious visual effect that we haven't teased at all because we're literally working on it right up until deadline. But I think the opening of the episode is really cool and compelling, and it centers around Charlie. So I think it's worth tuning in for that.

There's a lot of fun stuff. You can look for a cameo by Alan Ruck, who is Cameron from Ferris Bueller and Capt. Harriman from Star Trek: Generations.

I would encourage people to check out jointhemosaic.com, because you'll see that website – that's the website that Janis talked about setting up back in the pilot. That website is featured prominently in Episode 2. So you can go online, check out jointhemosaic.com, play around with the website, and then see it in the series.

Nrama: Anything else you want to tell us about the series and what's coming later?

Guggenheim: We're scripted through Episode 12 right now. We've got the whole season planned out. I've seen cuts of the first six episodes. I can tell you that we really have the goods here. It's a really fun, exciting ride. Every episode is a little different. It's a very exciting show with a lot of cool twists and turns. In Episode 2, we go to Hong Kong; in Episode 3, we go to Germany; in Episode 4, we sink a bus. The first four episodes are about laying the groundwork for the rest of the season, so I would pay close attention to each of those episodes. There are a lot of little hints and Easter eggs thrown in. There's even an Eli Stone Easter egg in Episode 3 – I couldn't quite help myself. So there are a lot of cool things coming up.

Newsarama will bring you future discussions with the writing team behind "FlashForward" in weeks to come. After viewing tonight's episode, which airs at 8 p.m. tonight on ABC, come back to this thread to post any questions you'd like asked in future interviews.


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