THE SERIES “Time After Time”
WHEN | WHERE Premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. on ABC/7
WHAT IT’S ABOUT Dashing young H.G. Wells (Freddie Stroma, UnREAL”) has invented a time machine in London, 1893, but has yet to take it out for a test ride. He’s not quite sure it works, but that riddle is solved when dastardly — but devilishly handsome — serial killer Dr. John Stevenson AKA Jack the Ripper (Josh Bowman) hops in to escape the police. It works just fine, and Stevenson is transported to modern-day New York. Wells pursues him, and while here, meets comely and kind Jane Walker (Genesis Rodriguez), a museum curator who buys his story about time travel. Meanwhile, there’s a twist — and dashing, debonair billionaire Vanessa Anders (Nicole Ari Parker) just might have something to do with it. This new drama was adapted from the 1979 movie by Kevin Williamson.
MY SAY Seriously? Another time travel series? Really?
Okay, now we’ve got a major problem, and clearly something has to be done about this TV time travel plague.
Here’s my plan: A few of us will have to find a time machine, then go back several decades to become network presidents. I’ll take NBC. They seem to have a lot of time travel shows over there. The plan will work as follows. When Don Bellisario walks into my palatial office at 30 Rock in 1989 to tell me about this great new idea he’s calling “Quantum Leap,” I’ll hold up my hand . . .
“Stop, Don,” I’ll say gently. “No one will ever watch a show about time travel. Tell Scott Bakula to get a job on the new ‘Star Trek’ instead. Meanwhile, let’s do lunch. Have your assistant call my assistant.”
And so it will go, network after network, year after year, decade after decade. No time travel shows. Not a one. Then, finally Kevin Williamson — weary of vampires, struggling to find the plotline for “Scream 8” — will come in the door at ABC.
“I have an idea about a time travel show,” he tells my counterpart over there, who finally gives the green light for network TV’s first time travel series in over half a century.
This doesn’t mean that the resulting show — arriving this Sunday — will be any good, but at least it will be utterly fresh and original, full of intoxicating intellectual puzzles, and gorgeous, sexy actors with bright white teeth and a twinkle in their time-traveling eyes. Critics will cheer, audiences will be amazed, and someone out there — mark my words — will say, “Why haven’t the networks done something like this ever before?”
Alas, as you read these words, our time machine has not yet been found, so we’ll have to go with a straight review here: “Time after Time” is timeworn.
Not terrible. “Scream 8” — if it ever arrives — will be terrible. This is just timeworn, also timed out and mistimed. We’ve seen it all. We really have: Guy travels in time, meets up with beautiful woman (“Sleepy Hollow”). Bad guy steals time machine, heroine chases him (“Timeless”). Good guy in New York chases bad guys in the future (“Forever”). Good guy uses time machine that looks like ornate telephone booth which is used to chase bad guys into past and future (“Doctor Who”). Heroines toggle back and forth between their past and present (“Once Upon a Time,” “Outlander”). Superheroes do all sorts of stuff in the future that’s impossible to summarize, or understand (“Legends of Tomorrow”).
What, pray tell, does “Time after Time” bring to this prime-time, time-travel conga line? Besides a highly attractive cast with dazzling smiles and a twinkle in those would-be time-traveling eyes? I think you have your answer.
(By the way, this review could turn to a rave if our time machine is ever located, so do check back.)
BOTTOM LINE Timeworn, mistimed, untimely.