FlashForward - Twistier Plots Than A JJ Abrams Series?S

We saw a time-travelly chunk of new ABC show FlashForward, where worldwide clairvoyance causes a global disaster. And Lost's Dominic Monaghan made a surprise appearance. Spoilers ahead.

During the FlashForward panel, producers David S. Goyer, Marc Guggenheim and Brannon Braga debuted the first 17 minutes of their show.

Opening on a shot of Joseph Fiennes upside-down in a car (next to some oranges), and it appears as though some catastrophic event has occurred in Los Angeles. Mark Benford is just starting to navigate the wreckage of a highway full of cars when the show jumps backward in time ala J.J. Abrams.

From there, the story is jumpy and cuts from one character to another too fast, introducing us to no less than seven potentially important characters in the first 10 minutes.

Penny (Sonya Walger) from Lost returns to ABC to become Olivia, Mark's doting wife. Or least a wife who knows the combination to Mark's safe which is where he stores his gun. As Mark heads downstairs, his daughter (who you just know is going to be pivotal) is watching crazy cartoons at 7 AM on what may or may not be a school day.

Next up in the revolving door of quick character intros is the Benford family's babysitter, Nicole. She enters the house and soon we see her "hanging out" on the couch with her boyfriend. We quickly move on to Bryce, a dysfunctional man on a dock with a death wish.

The show begins to slow slightly when we see John Cho as Mark's (I'm assuming) comic sidekick, though, sadly, we only see some of his sass here. He and Fiennes are buddy-buddy FBI agents tracking down some guys. And a girl. As with all drawn-out television shows intent on keeping you around for the long haul, you don't get many details up front.

There's a flash and we see about 30 seconds of Mark's personal flash into the future. It's grainy and full of easter eggs and totally confusing to the untrained eye. Words jump out at Mark and somewhere in there is a slight homage to Watchmen artist "D. Gibbons."

After the flash, Nicole the delinquent babysitter runs upstairs where the creepy daughter is sitting upright in her bed and she tells her babysitter, "I dreamt there were no more good days." What?! What does this mean?! Which is precisely what the producers are hoping we'll ask.

And now we've caught up to the true beginning of this show. Mark hops around trying to figure out what caused these crashes and runs into an oddly serene looking Cho. The two pair up to fight some crime and end up with more questions than before.

The whole world has been affected by this phenomenon, and it appears the first order of business is deciphering exactly what happen. It's an intriguing idea, and with Goyer on board, we definitely shouldn't take for granted that it will follow the original novel by Robert J. Sawyer.

In fact, Goyer said, they crunched the timeline from a hard-to-film 21-year vision of the future into a six-month one, to help move the plot along. Everyone sees 2 minutes and 17 seconds of their future as it happens on April 29, a date which will sync up nicely with at least part one of the season finale.

Despite the changes, however, Robert J. Sawyer apparently approves. The producers haven't lost any of the death and destruction of Sawyer's original novel, even showcasing the collapse of Los Angeles in the wake of the flash, up close and personal in the first two acts of the pilot. Goyer said Sawyer is the show's "unofficial science advisor" and that he will be writing an episode for the first season.

The show looks decent despite a rough beginning, and it sounds like the writers have an endgame in mind.

And, finally, at the very end of the panel came our glimpse of Dominic Monaghan as a man named Simon.

In the clip, Mark chokes a dashing Lloyd Simcoe (played by Jack Davenport), holding him against the wall and demanding to know who he is and who he works for, dammit. And then Dominic Monaghan appears, looking oh-so-fine in his suit and saying, simply, "I am Simon."