Monday, March 6, 2017

'Time After Time': Do We Need Another Time Traveling Show? Maybe

Freddie Stroma and Josh Bowman
H.G. Wells (Freddie Stroma) and Dr. John Stevenson (Josh Bowman) (ABC)

TV SHOW REVIEW

After NBC got a head start with its brilliant Timeless show, one has to wonder if we really need yet another time traveling show. Fortunately, besides the usual “we must not alter the course of time” banter and the chasing of a bad guy, there isn’t much the same about Timeless and Time After Time, the new show that debuted last night on ABC. Each Timeless episode is like a twisted history lesson with fully fleshed-out characters, a smart storyline and witty dialogue. While weaker of the two, Time After Time appears to have some of the same qualities, but we’ll have to see how well the latter does in the long run.

Time after Time is actually based on the 1979 novel and movie of the same name. The story begins with H.G. Wells showing off his time machine to a group of friends which includes Jack the Ripper. (Of course, no one of this group knows that. To them, he is just Dr. John Stevenson.) The new show wastes no time to show that Well’s friend is the notorious Jack who finds that the time machine is the perfect getaway vehicle after the London police track him down. However, the machine has a safety device that without a special key, the machine will always come back to its original location, which in this case, is Well’s basement.


Freddie Stroma and Genesis Rodriguez
H.G. Wells (Freddie Stroma) and Jane Walker (Genesis Rodriguez) (ABC)
Wells quickly boards the machine (which is now back in his possession) with key in hand and travels to 2017 New York City. When coming out of the machine, Wells (Freddie Stroma) finds that it is on display at a museum featuring his now famous works and is caught by Jane Walker (Genesis Rodriguez) the assistant museum curator who is upset that "another actor" has "pranked" the museum in order to promote a new play or movie. Panicking that Stevenson (Josh Bowman) is out on the loose, Wells tells Jane who he is and what is at stake. She doesn’t believe him. Then she does. Then her boss, Vanessa Anders (Nicole Ari Parker), gets involved telling Wells that she is his great great grandaughter… well, it just gets crazier from there and to explain more would ruin the show for you.

Time After Time is truly intriguing. Even after two episodes, we don’t really know what Stevenson wants with the time machine anyway. We do know that he loves to kill, but that doesn’t seem to be the motive. The show is created by Kevin Williamson who has a background as a writer for the movies I Know What You Did Last Summer, the four Scream movies and the very bloody Kevin Bacon TV series, The Following, so fears that this will be more of a horror show are not unfounded. However, he was also the creator of Dawson’s Creek and Glory Days, so what does that tell you?

Despite the fact that one of the main characters is a serial killer, very little blood is actually shown on the screen and the killings (at least in the first two episodes) are minimal, which is a huge contrast to content on The Following, however this might have to do with the fact that the show is airing on ABC and not FOX.

Vanessa Anders (Nicole Ari Parker) and H.G. Wells (Freddie Stroma)
Vanessa Anders (Nicole Ari Parker) and H.G. Wells (Freddie Stroma) (ABC)
Time After Time does a great job of defining our hero and villain. Stevenson is built with muscles, confident and arrogant. Wells is a bit softer, innocent and refreshingly has a good sense of morals.

Of the two characters, it is Well’s that is more developed and believable. After his initial shock of walking around outside of the time machine and seeing how the world turned out many years later, Wells soon learns that the Utopian future that he had dreamed about was mostly just a dream. There is a lot of humor as Wells tries to act natural not understanding how many of the modern devices actually work. At one point, Jane tells Wells that her boss has more money than Oprah to which he responds, “What is an Oprah?”

Stevenson on the other hand finds that the future suits him well and he adjusts to it remarkably well. Personally, I find this to be a big mistake. He quickly adapts to cell phone use and has an easy understanding of what Google is. Both characters get new haircuts and new fashionable clothes without any struggle at all. Neither seem to have any issue with different races of people either something that doesn't ring true. The show misses a lot of opportunities to play off the “fish out of water” scenario. In my mind, it would take these guys weeks to get a handle on how to fit in effectively; not hours. Fortunately, the mysteries that build up (and they keep coming) keep the show intriguing. (Personally, I think that there might be more time traveling visitors around town, but we’ll have to see if I’m right on that.) How they will be able to sustain the show for a long period of time also remains a mystery.