This article contains information that could be considered too revealing according to our spoiler policy. Proceed with caution. You can't unsee it!Reason The show doesn't premiere until a few days after publication time; we got a screener.
Will Time After Time Have You Returning Again And Again?
Or will ABC's time travel drama confirm that things from the past are best left there?
What Is This Thing?
Hoping to get over a bad case of writer's block while penning his first novel, H.G. Wells invents a time machine in 1893 London. Before he's able to use the machine himself, it is hijacked by his friend Dr. John Stevenson, a.k.a. Jack the Ripper, to avoid capture by the police.
Wells manages to reclaim the time machine and follows his friend to 2016 New York City in order to bring him to justice back in 1893. Along the way he befriends lonely museum curator Jane Walker, who learns his true identity and helps him pursue The Ripper -- now loose in NYC and hell-bent on continuing his murder-y ways.
When Is It On?
Sundays at 9 PM on ABC, starting March 5.
Why Was It Made Now?
Time travel is all the programming rage this year. Time After Time is the third new show of the season to feature time travel, although it appears that this show may not use it as a plot device on a weekly basis, which proved problematic on another new time travel show, Timeless. Why is time travel so hot right now? Who knows. Perhaps it’s the desire to return to a time when America was actually great, a.k.a. before November 8, 2016. Maybe the harsh realities of modern life have led to the increased popularity of fantasy and science fiction stories. The success of recent shows such as Westworld and Stranger Things certainly support that notion.
What's Its Pedigree?
I cannot explain how excited I was to learn that this concept was getting a reboot. Time After Time is based on the 1979 film (and novel) of the same name. While I never saw the film in the theatre, cable television came to my part of New Jersey at the same time the movie started into heavy rotation on PRISM, a Philly market cable service. During the few hours I was not watching MTV (fueled in part by my crush on Martha Quinn), I was getting hooked on uncut cable movies -- Time After Time being a favorite (creating my decades-long crush on Mary Steenburgen).
Kevin Williamson created the series. He has an impressive and ridiculously long list of credits to his name, birthing numerous well-known shows such as The Vampire Diaries, The Following and -- OMG -- Dawson's Creek! (Tara and Sarah, why are you not doing this one? I feel honored you asked me.)
Williamson has enlisted Revenge alum Josh Bowman to play Stevenson/Saucy Jacky, while the role of Wells goes to Freddie Stroma, whose had roles un UnREAL, Game of Thrones, and Parts 1 and 2 of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows.
There is some pretty good stuff here and, based on the first episode, it's definitely the best new time travel show this season. Stroma does a nice job portraying Wells, although in early scenes he takes him a little too close to the edge of being a Victorian dandy.
His naïve idealism in a utopian future serves as a nice contrast to The Ripper's cynical embrace of industrial society's dark side and never gets overplayed.
Happily, Bowman's Ripper never approaches evil mustache-twirling smarminess or satanic levels of evil, a decision that will serve the show well. Williamson has stated publicly that the program will move away from the original film's storyline after a few episodes and create its own mythology.
I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with The Ripper. More than a few fictionalized versions of Jack's story have appeared on the big and small screens over the years, although Williamson's experience in the horror/fantasy genre creates the real possibility that we are going to get a new and quite interesting exploration of him this time around.
There isn't a whole lot to dislike so far. The social commentary wore a bit thin by the middle of the first episode. Yes, a small wave of utopianism swept England and America in the second half of the 19th century, leading some to believe in the possibility of a perfected future society. The popularity of this belief resulted directly from the economic decline of the working class and increased social problems created by the industrial revolution. But they didn't really need to throw so much of that at the viewer with NYC as the location for the show. NYC's reputation for rudeness and moral relativism doesn't really need to be explained as part of a larger philosophical argument of historical trends at this point, does it? It can stand on its own just fine, thank you.
Also, the journey of Jane (Genesis Rodriguez) feels a bit rushed. She seems a little too willing to accept the incredibly weird truth that time travel exists and, one second after learning it does and that the guy saying he's H.G. Wells isn't crazy and is actually H.G. Wells, she's holding hands and making googly eyes at him. But a not-completely unexpected plot twist at the end of the first hour might hold the explanation for why these two are keen to hop in the sack so quickly.
A fairly strong chemistry exists between Stroma and Rodriguez from the get-go, though, so I don't have a serious problem with getting these two together right here at the start.
Despite a few shaky parts in the first episode there's definitely enough here to grab your attention and have you wanting more. If it manages to keep its half-baked social commentary to a minimum and focus instead on the action, developing a strong backstory, and exploring the burgeoning relationship between Wells and Jane, there is a strong chance this could emerge as one of the clear leaders of the midseason pack. If they could only work in a cameo by Mary Steenburgen…