Exclusive: 'FlashForward' creator David S. Goyer on the show's three-month hiatus and future

Fans of ABC’s FlashForward are buzzing about last night’s episode—and especially what they learned about the about the immediate future of the series after the episode was over. The sci-fi drama’s fall finale was an eventful affair, and you can read my recap of it in our TV Watch section. But the meaty three-minute tease of the second half of the season was pretty provocative, too. For starters, there was the intimation that another global blackout event is looming. And then there was the revelation that the final 13 episodes of FlashForward’s first season won’t be returning in January as previously announced but rather in March. What happened? We caught up with FF co-creator and showrunner David S. Goyer (who also co-wrote Batman Begins and wrote the story for The Dark Knight) and asked him.

EW: So… FlashForward isn’t coming back until March.
DAVID GOYER: Why?

Yes! Why?
The answer is simple. We originally planned to come back in January, but about three weeks ago we sat down with ABC scheduling and looked at what our programming schedule would be like. And I think on serialized show like 24, Lost, and Prison Break the most important thing is to air consecutive episodes without repeats or preemptions. To be brutally honest, our programming schedule in January was going to be awful. We were going to be off for four or five weeks [through December and into January], then back on for two weeks, then off for two weeks because of the Olympics, then back on four weeks, off for two weeks again, back on three, off for two again… Our first 10 episodes had one preemption; our last 13-episode arc was going to have four. I just think when we saw that, the studio and the network and all the producers looked at each other and said, “This is crazy.” We’d rather bite the bullet, come back in March, and air all 13 episodes consecutively without preemptions.

The overnight ratings for the show have steadily declined since the premiere. [FlashForward has dropped from a little over 12 million viewers to a little over 7 million viewers over the course of 10 episodes. The numbers don't reflect DVR usage, which is substantial for FlashForward.] If the ratings hadn’t been dropping do you think ABC would have made this move?
I don’t honestly know. I just know that when we first heard about this possibility three or four weeks ago, we were all looking ahead to the series of preemptions ahead of us and were feeling very concerned. One of our staff writers is from Prison Break, and he made a comment that every time their show had been preempted, it would get knocked down [in the ratings] and they’d have to build back up, and after being preempted, they’d get knocked down again and have to build up yet again—they felt like they were continually treading water. … I know for me, as an audience member, I feel incredibly annoyed when I’m watching a serialized show and have to deal with preemptions. … Our production schedule hasn’t changed at all. We’re shooting episode 14 now; we’re prepping episodes 15 and 16. We’ll have all our episodes written and most of them shot by the time we come back in March.

We recently reported that you had to shut down production to work on some scripts
Which I was actually a bit bemused by, commenting on it as if it was a big deal.

It wasn’t?
No! We only shut down for one week. And I’ll tell you why: we were given the reins to speed up the storytelling, and we had broken episodes 15 and 16 and done some very major moves in those episodes. When the network and the studio saw the scripts for those everyone looked at each other and said “Let’s move those up to 13 and 14.” So we swapped those out and moved episodes 15 and 16 into the 13 and 14 position. In the process, we needed to take a week to re-prep.

How does the new 13-week scheduling strategy for the second half of the season affect the writing of the show?
I know we’re all as writers breathing a sigh of relief. We feel like we have all the chess pieces on the board and now we can just knock the dominos over and watch them fall in interesting ways. I kind of feel like we did when we got into working on The Dark Knight after finishing Batman Begins: we got done with the origin story, we don’t have to do that anymore, we can now hit the ground running.

So, is there really going to be another global blackout event? [SPOILER ALERT for the answer that follows!]
That may be. Look, I wish next week we could air episode 11 and then episode 12, because our biggest reveals of the season so far happen in those two episodes. On one hand, I wish those could air right now. On the other hand, they’re pretty strong episodes to be coming back to. I can give you some teases. We’ve only seen part of Mark’s flash-forward so far, but when we come back in episode 11, you’ll see all of it. And you’re also going to find out pretty early on when we come back who Suspect Zero is.

Based on your Season 1 experience, do you think Season 2 will be scheduled differently?
Yes. Definitely. But look: these decisions are not all on my shoulders. Programming is a very complicated process with a lot of influences. I wish I could say it was all me and do whatever I want.

Photo Credit: Ron Tom/ABC

Comments (59 total) Add your comment
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  • Tater722

    This is very reassuring to me, as a viewer. I hate to have to wait three months to see another FF, but if it means that the episodes will be every week instead of sporadically, it will be worth it. It’s really no more of a wait than waiting from the end of the season in May until the next season starts in Sept or October every year. Looking forward to the rest of the uninterrupted season.

  • Lindsey

    If they would never show the waste of space that is Genevieve Cortese again then I might get back into the show.

    • Jerry

      Your kidding, right? One of the most minor characters who was in only four of the ten episodes and THAT’S why you don’t watch?

      • Lindsey

        She’s that terrible. Also, the show became boring too quickly.

    • Ben S

      A fan of Supernatural then huh?

      • Eli

        Hey, don’t knock Supernatural. That’s what DVRs and (albeit ancient) VCRs are for!

    • ktwolf

      Lindsey, did Genevieve steal your boyfriend or something?

  • gerritv

    “We feel like we have all the chess pieces on the board and now we can just knock the dominos over and watch them fall in interesting ways.”

    The mixed metaphor goes a long way in explaining how screwed up the story-lines in this once promising series have become. It’s like watching what happened to ‘Heroes’ from season 1 to season 2 in nine episodes.

    Disappointing really. No wonder the numbers suffer.

    • BIG ROD

      Gerritv, I don’t think that’s a fair assessment! If you look at the serialized tv show “24″, the writer/producers have stated that they don’t know how the entire season (of chess pieces) will play out and they make up a lot of stuff as they go along. Some episodes work and some don’t within the season long storyline. It’s just the nature of the beast when you don’t have the entire 24 episodes mapped out.

      I would also think (though not always with productively grand results) writing under pressure like that (not knowing where all the chess pieces lay) can bring out some of the best writing from the writing staff.

      For example, me likng Star Trek as an overall franchise, my overall assessment is that the tv series’ have much better storylines than the multi-million dollar movies (10+) that were made. You would think that the screenwriters having months to prepare a 2-hour movie screenplay would churn out something better than being under pressure each week to churn out 22 to 24 episodic teleplays.

      In any event, the last episode of FlashForward was on point. My only criticism, like LOST, is that they need to increase the pacing (not talking about ACTION) of the show like the last episode aired.

  • diane

    i am one of the drop offs. i was fascinated by the by the story line and the great cast!!!! but i just couldn’t get into it, for me personally the building of the story is too slow. which is probably why i don’t watch lost and could only manage one season of prison break. but again, i liked everything else about the show!!! good luck

    • JayNYC

      Clearly the suits realized this, and thus they moved episodes 15 & 16 up two slots. While I think the dialogue on this show is second-rate, I think the storytelling has gotten more interesting.

    • Sam

      if everything comes in the fiest few episoded, what is there to anticipate? Instant gratification is the motto of Generation Me

  • TheTVObsessed

    “Based on your Season 1 experience, do you think Season 2 will be scheduled differently?”

    Season 2 won’t even air based on the current ratings.

  • Lee

    Thanks for the terrific interview. I don’t understand why the numbers are down for FlashForward. It is definitely the best new show this season. And based on the last 2 episodes, it’s only getting better.

  • Patricia

    I loved the series at first, now I watch it only because my DVR picks it up. It’s too much soap opera and not as much scifi as the pilot promised.

    • Donna

      here, here…

  • jason.

    Eh. If I can wait for…what, nine months? in between seasons of LOST, this should be a walk in the park.

    Plus, it’s been building on my DVR for a bit now as I’ve had other commitments, so this is a good chance to catch up in full.

    I just wish we didn’t have to worry so much every time a good show on a major network suffers a dip in ratings to a “mere” 7 million people.

    Does anyone remember when networks used to champion shows they believed in, even though the ratings were bad in the first season?

    Cheers, for example?

    Anyway, I think it’s a good call to go on hiatus, especially if the (yawwwwn) Olympics would knock it off for two weeks. Gah.

  • Scott

    Seriously ABC, the world is not going to stop watching just because the Winter Olympics is on. They are not that exciting. Nothing I can’t see on Sports Center in the morning.

  • Micahel

    I’m surprised how much ratings have dropped in recent years fro all shows on the networks. I would’ve thought that 7 million people was a lot of viewers. I only started folowing ratings in the past few years but i read an article the other day about the highest rated episodes of shows of the past and the finale of Friends had 56 million people watch it. I didn’t think that was even possible! With only reality shows and maybe NCIS hitting anywhere near those type of numbers, you would think that a network would be more inclined to take a chance on a show that has 7 million viewers and trying to gain viewers in a second season after people can get hooked on the dvd’s of season 1 watching them all consecutively. That’s how a lot of my friends got hooked on Lost so you never know.

  • DB

    interesting interview. i’m not too worried about the hiatus. with interviews today and changing the pacing of the show and dropping a showrunner, abc seems to be trying to save and/or relaunch the show. hopefully they can work out the elements that aren’t working. it worked for brothers and sisters…

  • Fred

    So much for this show….has lost my interest….not likely to watch it again come March….WHY?
    Because LOST will take my life over….thats WHY

    • Anna

      same here lost and V

      • erin

        i dont know if im gonna watch flash forward in march. i might give it the first two episodes that are supposed to be exciting..but if theyre not…..and besides, i will probably be wayy to lost in LOST, because i have a feeling this 6th season is gonna KICK ASS!! haha… but one show i dont think im gonna watch again is V. it looked very promising, but it pretty much lost my interest after the first….2 episodes….?

  • BeenThere

    This show, saddly will fail due to ABC’s inability to air quality tv.
    I’ve been around since the 60′s and have seen good shows come and go…..Lost, lost me in season one.

    The hiatus thing is what will kill it. ABC best come to grips with change, and the Olympics just doesn’t cut it these days.

    See? this is why I don’t give new tv shows a chance anymore, cuz as soon as you like one, some moron in a suit pulls the plug.

  • Justin

    Not surprised the ratings are falling, the show seems to get worse as the episodes progress, throwing in more and more mediocre subplots and loose ends that never seem to get tied up.

  • Isabel

    Love Flashforward. Hate to have to wait, but after reading this story I think it was a wise decision.

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