Tube Talk: Flash Forward, Breaking Bad among spring’s early returns

By Paula Hendrickson
Contributing Writer

This is the time of year for all kinds of returns. As the snow melts, signs of life start returning to gardens (my irises, lilies and hostas have all started shooting up and it’s not even technically spring for a few more days). Most of us are struggling to complete our tax returns. And TV’s “spring season” is in full swing—some shows have already returned, others return in April.

It’s still nearly a month until Glee returns, which will be the highlight of my spring TV season. But a couple more shows come back this week, and both are worth checking out.

Last fall, Flash Forward was one of the shows ABC was banking on to carry the sci-fi torch Lost will pass along when it ends in May. It even stars a couple of former Lost cast members: Dominic Monaghan (“Charlie” on Lost) plays the seemingly amoral genius Simon Campos, and Sonya Walger (“Penny” on Lost) plays Dr. Olivia Benford. Yet, the show continued to lose viewers with each passing week.

I stuck with Flash Forward, at times I wondered why, but as soon as I grew tired of one storyline, a more interesting one would emerge. For some reason, the main story—the mystery of what caused the world-wide flash forward and what itall means—never resonated with me as strongly as some of the minor characters’ stories. Demetri Noh (John Cho) wondering what his not having a flash forward meant was pretty powerful. I also like the story of Olivia’s co-worker, Bryce (Zachary Knighton), who had recently learned he had terminal cancer and was about to commit suicide at the time of the flash forward, and his search for the mysterious woman in his life affirming flash forward.

The show may be a bit uneven, but it’s also pretty ambitious storytelling. If you haven’t seen it yet, or just want to refresh your memory, you can view some previous episodes at It returns at 7 p.m., Thursday, with a special two-hour episode.

Another show returning this week is AMC’s highly-acclaimed Breaking Bad. I suppose it’s appropriate to say the show is addictive, considering it’s about a high school science teacher who, after learning he has lung cancer, starts supplementing his income by making crystal meth. It was a short-term plan to stockpile funds so his family would have some financial security after his death. In the process, he’s strained his marriage, broken countless laws and become a regional drug supplier—all while going through chemo.

Bryan Cranston has won back-to-back Emmys for his portrayal of Walter White, the family man/science teacher/cancer patient turned drug maker. And Aaron Paul earned an Emmy nomination last season for playing Walter’s partner-in-crime, Jesse Pinkman, a drug dealer and user.

If you haven’t followed the show and plan to catch up by watching the mini-marathon this Friday, I won’t spoil things for you. But considering how the second season ended, I’ve been wondering: What could possibly happen next for Walter and Jesse?

Program notes

Flash Forward, Thursdays at 7 p.m. on ABC.

Breaking Bad mini-marathon, Friday March 19, starting at 7 p.m. on AMC.

Breaking Bad season premiere, Sunday March 21, 9 p.m. (repeated at 10:02 p.m.) on AMC.

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Send in your suggestions to

From the March 17-23, 2010 issue

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