Brían F O'Byrne, Courtney B Vance, Peyton List, John Cho,  Dominic Monaghan, Joseph Fiennes, Zachary Knighton, Christine Woods, Sonya Walger, Jack Davenport © ABC
Brían F O'Byrne, Courtney B Vance, Peyton List, John Cho, Dominic Monaghan, Joseph Fiennes, Zachary Knighton, Christine Woods, Sonya Walger, Jack Davenport © ABC

What would you do if you were given a glimpse of the Future? Would you accept what you saw and live life to its fullest, or would you do everything in your power to change your destiny? That’s the premise of David Goyer’s new drama, in which the world’s population is given a glimpse of their future, forcing everyone to come to grips with whether their destinies can be fulfilled or avoided.

Starring Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Dominic Monaghan and Sonya Walger, the saga begins in Los Angeles, on a normal day, when all of a sudden, without warning, every person on Earth blacks out for two minutes and 17 seconds and sees a series of events from their own future, taking place on April 29, 2010 (the date the final episode of the season will be aired) at 10 p.m. Pacific Time. Can their destinies change?

David S Goyer © ABC
David S Goyer © ABC

David S Goyer (the co-writer of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight) spoke about his intriguing concept at the TV Critics Association press conference this month.

There are a lot of Lost influences here, what have you learned from Lost that you will apply as this goes on?

I’m pretty good friends with Damon [Lindelof, producer of Lost]. It’s interesting, the genesis of this idea happened before Lost. The primary reason why we’re on ABC is I’m an enormous fan of Lost, because I thought it was such a genre-breaking, bold show, and it proved to me that there could be a place for a show like that on network television. I think Lost taught that you can do a show with a large ensemble cast, which is something that I as a viewer really like, that you can tell a big, cinematic story. And Lost traffics a lot in shades of gray, different shades of morality, which is something I find really interesting. Damon constantly tells me, ‘Just tell your story. Just stick to your guns.’

Damon admits he made some mistakes early on with Lost. It got too complicated. Are there any not-to-dos that you learned from Lost?

I don’t know that the lessons of Lost are really applicable to our show. The one thing I can say is that I feel, as a viewer, I really like to feel that the storytellers know where they’re going. We have an enormous obligation, especially with a show like this where we stake this claim, April 29th [in the show], that we just constantly talk about the obligation we have towards our viewers to really figure it out and know where we’re going.

Yet you have Dominic Monaghan in your show too.

Dominic Monaghan © ABC
Dominic Monaghan © ABC

We were fans of Lost and of Dom, and he signed on to this without any kind of script, without any scenes written for his character. So he took an enormous leap of faith. I said, ‘Let’s start from a place of what do you want to play in an ideal world?’ He told us, and I said, ‘Interestingly enough, we have a character we’re going to introduce in a few episodes that hits that sweet spot.’

Is there supposed to be anything significant in the fact that so many people seem to be looking at their calendars during the flashforward, or is that just necessary to reveal what the date was?

There’s a reason why some of the characters happened to be looking at the calendar during their flashforwards.  The other thing that’s interesting is we’ve said that these flashforwards are two minutes and 17 seconds, but in the pilot, I think the longest ones we’ve seen are of Joe’s [Fiennes] character, which is maybe 30 seconds. And part of the fun for us is we are holding a lot of things back. What you saw in his flashfoward, depending on whether that was the beginning or the middle or the end, can kind of change your perspective of what we’ve done. So there are some narrative tricks that we’ll be playing with the audience in that aspect.

How do they really know that these visions take place in the Future, is there anything more concrete other than the shared visions and the date on the calendar to suggest that?

John Cho and Joseph Fiennes © ABC
John Cho and Joseph Fiennes © ABC

You pose an interesting question; that debate will continue on for quite a while, at least for the first act of the first season. And we pick up that debate in episode two. But, just as an example, I don’t know how many people there are in this room. Say there’s 250 people, if we were in the FlashFoward world, all 250 people would remember this moment. So there’s something disconcerting about that. It’s kind of hard to ignore something like that, and there were definitely a lot of instances where people were in a highly populated area and all recall, down to every single detail, the exact same thing happening. But that debate is very much something we traffic in throughout the first season.

So what happens after April 29, 2010?

It would be a disservice to our audience to say what’s going to happen after April 29th, but we’ve thought about it…

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.