More news about ABC's upcoming sci-fi series FlashForward came out of the Television Critics Association press tour over the weekend, where co-creator David S. Goyer spoke with reporters about new cast member Gabrielle Union's involvement, the format of the show, action, themes and just how many episodes he'll write and direct himself.
In FlashForward, based on Robert J. Sawyer's SF novel, every person in the world blacks out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds, during which time everyone has a vision of the future—April 29, 2010, to be specific—and the show's characters, notably FBI agent Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes), begin to piece together what happened.
The following Q&A features edited excerpts of our group interview with Goyer in Pasadena, Calif. FlashForward premieres Sept. 24 on ABC.
What is Gabrielle Union [NBC's Life] playing on FlashForward?
Goyer: She plays the character Demetri's [John Cho] fiancee. She plays a criminal defense attorney. She's a very significant character. You'll see her five or six times in the first 13 episodes. She's got a pretty interesting story arc herself.
You have such a large ensemble, what is the role of guest stars on the show?
Goyer: Big. We have, I think, 11 series regulars, and already six or seven recurring characters. We have some really exciting guest stars that we've lined up that unfortunately we can't announce yet, but they're pretty cool.
Is there a rhythm to giving out reveals, peppering them out without giving too much away?
Goyer: Yeah, yeah, but I will say, I think some people assume that because we've said April 29th, we're just going to tread water until then. It will become abundantly clear within the first four episodes that's not what we're doing. We try to sit down and think "What would the audience expect or not expect?" and, again, as viewers, "What would we want to see?" I would be annoyed if a show like this just treaded water, so we make some very bold moves in the first few episodes.
The pilot balances present day and flashes-forward. What is the format going to be week to week?
Goyer: Look, it's an ensemble show. We are going to be telling a lot of sometimes an A, B, C and D story. Not every character will be in every episode, but the promise we made to the network is every episode you would at least see more of one of our cast member's flash-forward, and you would see a new character's flash-forward.
You say you have a three-year plan. You also had a three-year plan for Threshold. Are you still confident about thinking that far ahead?
Goyer: I like shows that are ambitious, so why not swing for the fences?
Do you have assurance for the viewers if they invest half a season, they'll at least find out how it's supposed to end?
Goyer: Well, they're certainly going to get a lot of answers by episode 13. I also know that Steve and the rest of the group at ABC have shown an enormous confidence in us and have extended an enormous amount of commitment to the show. So, look, if you're not going to try to be ambitious, what's the point? Yes, shows get canceled, and some of my favorite shows have been canceled, but I think that's like saying I had a bad date, and I'm never going to date again. You have to keep swinging for the fences. ...
How much action will there be week to week? The premiere is pretty epic.
Goyer: It's going to vary. Episode two has a lot of action. Episode four has a lot of action. There's a ton of action in 10, 11. It just varies. ...
You've done TV before. What is different about this experience?
Goyer: I'm personally having the most fun I've ever had in my life on a project. The concept of the show is very personal to me. It's allowing me to write about a lot of things that are important to me at this stage in my life, so it's interesting. One of the things I like to do best is take a big-scope kind of genre movie, but tell it in a really personal way. I think we were able to do that with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and in our own way that's what we're doing with FlashForward. I don't know, this is my most favorite things that I've ever worked on.
What are some of those themes?
Goyer: I think future responsibility, who we are: Is our destiny baked in from the time we're born, or can we change it? I had a couple of experiences in my own life where I think it seemed like I should've gone A and I went B, and I'm just really fascinated by the people that make choices that take them in an unexpected direction. I'm just fascinated by paradigm shifts, personal paradigm shifts. It's funny, I [worked] with Alex Proyas in Dark City and things like that. Do we have a choice in who we become, or is it predestined? ...
What's a big door you wish you'd gone through?
Goyer: I can give you an example of one door I didn't go through that I am happy [about]. I was all set up to be a homicide detective in Detroit instead of a screenwriter, and I'm really glad I'm not.
How many episodes will you write and direct?
Goyer: I directed the first two. If we go a full season, I'll probably end up directing about five. I'll probably end up writing about—I mean, I'm involved in all the episodes, but I don't know, seven or eight of them first season.