The art of the cliffhanger

Writers on the new television series "FlashForward" work in a room with the window blinds drawn tight. They don't want to risk anyone peeking into their office on the sunny Walt Disney Studios lot here.

A drama about a blackout that gives the entire human population a quick glimpse six months into the future, "FlashForward" debuts on ABC on Thursday. The main characters try to figure out what caused the blackout while some attempt to avert their own vision of the future. ABC has bet big on the show from David S. Goyer, co-writer of the "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight" movies, and starring British actor Joseph Fiennes.

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The program uses one of the oldest dramatic techniques and attempts to stretch it to new heights—the cliffhanger. The show's goal is to leave the audience in suspense at the end of each episode and even before almost every commercial break.

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