Axe to Grind: FlashForward

Barry Quinn

Barry Quinn is an English Language and Literature graduate and a Creative Writer MA studier. He is an aspiring creative and professional writer and is currently in the process of writing his first novel. His writing blog can be viewed here: https://barrygjquinn.wordpress.com You can follow him on Twitter at: @mrbarryquinn

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This week’s Axe to Grind returns to shows that have actually been cancelled as we take a look at ABC’s FlashForward. Billed at the new Lost, FlashForward spanned just one season between 2009 and 2010. Can anybody even remember it?

Original Airdate: 24 September, 2009 – 27 May, 2010

Reason for Cancellation: Dwindling ratings meant that FlashForward was canned after just one season.

Justification: The show premiered with 12.47 million viewers in the U.S., but they slowly trundled down to 7.07 for its midseason finale. The show went on hiatus for three months, returning with 6.61 million viewers, substantially lower in comparison than the network had hoped for, especially after the show was revamped somewhat. Its final episode pulled in only 4.96 million viewers, by which point most people had jumped ship.

As is the case in most network shows, no conclusion was given to the story. In fact, the show runners weren’t told that a second season wasn’t going to happen until pretty late in the run, so late that they couldn’t at least attempt to wrap things up. The final episode posed two massive cliffhangers – the lead, Mark Benford, was trapped in an exploding building, and the show flashed several years into the future, showing an older version of Mark’s daughter Charlie. Such cliffhangers suggest that the show runners very much expected, or at least anticipated, a second season.

FlashForward started incredibly strongly, with a tantalising pilot that, whilst no where near as strong as Lost’s (that pilot is possibly still the finest pilot ever produced, right?), delivered a unique premise that had me hooked instantly. The storylines began to dwindle several episodes into the run, and as such the show was revamped after its midseason break. Each and every episode airing in 2010 was strong, with lashings of twists and turns culminating in an excellent run of episodes. The only downside was that by this point everyone had jumped ship, and the show failed to draw the viewers back in.

A Right Decision?: In terms of viewers, yes, it was right to cancel FlashForward. A second season could not be justified.

BUT, and it’s a big but, FlashForward has incredible potential. I think it was pretty evident around the midseason break that the show’s viewers had gone and would not be returning, so why didn’t the show runners then attempt to bring together some closure in the remaining episodes? I’m not suggesting that they should have wrapped EVERYTHING up, but to leave the fate of the show’s lead in the air is a cop out I think.

Event mini-series seems to be the ‘thing’ at the moment in television, with both 24 and Heroes returning on NBC. This is purely hypothetical but I would love FlashForward to return for a mini series to wrap things up. But, as I asked in the introduction, does anyone even remember this show? And would anybody even watch a return of it? I’d like to think yes, though realistically it is probably a no.

I just want some closure to the stories and the characters. The aspect of TV I hate is the not knowing. I’ve read the novel which FlashForward is based upon and the show deviates substantially, so that didn’t give me the closure I thought it would. It baffles me why nobody exploits the potential of a cancelled show by wrapping things up in the form of a novel – because I am sure, at the time at least, a lot of people would have bought an official canonical release to find out what happens to everyone.

Hell, maybe I should write it…

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