Time After Time: Pilot, I Will Catch You
Original air date: March 6th, 2017
Time after Time is a new show on ABC, based on the 1979 movie of the same name. The movie starred Malcolm McDowell as H.G. Wells and David Warner as Dr. John Stevenson (aka Jack the Ripper). The premise for both movie and series starts the same: a young H.G. Wells builds a time machine for research purposes for his novel The Time Machine (way to make every other writer look bad), his friend (that happens to be Jack the Ripper) uses the machine to escape capture and travels to modern time. If the time machine doesn’t have a special key, it returns to the date it was used—so after dropping off Stevenson in modern day San Francisco, the machine returns and Wells uses it to follow him. In the movie, everything is tied up, good triumphs over evil and H.G. saves and gets the girl (In the movie Mary Steenburgen as Amy).
In this updated series, we have Freddie Stroma as H.G. Wells and Josh Bowman as Dr. John Stevenson. Instead of 1979 San Francisco, we are in 2017 New York City. Things have changed since 1979, (duh) so the story must change as well—I did like that some of the dialogue at the beginning of the first episode was exactly like the original movie. Where the series differs—and I really liked it– was following Stevenson’s journey as well as Wells. Stevenson manages to adapt quickly (probably being a sociopath helps in this situation) and gets to what he loves best—hacking up the ladies. Wells isn’t as successful and takes more time to adjust to his new environment. With the help of the assist-curator Jane Walker (Genesis Rodriguez), Wells finds his way and goes about stopping Stevenson, but fails to succeed. This is where we split from the movie and lay the foundation for the series. We are introduced to a possible great-great-granddaughter of Wells, Vanessa Anders (Nicole Ari Parker), her husband Griffin (Will Chase), a bunch of hired security (Vanessa is richer than Oprah) and one mysterious dude (Jonathan Mielec) following both Wells and Stevenson.
If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t worry; the series stands on its own and is a great beginning to what could be an incredible show. I will admit that there were parts of these episodes that seems to be edited to the point it was disjointed—like the episodes were edited to fit time and on the verge of being overly cut. This is a minor grievance. Josh Bowman took the character of Stevenson and ran with it. He made the character likeable and dreadful at the same time. Villains always have the best roles in shows, and this is no exception. I will admit I expected not to like Freddie Stroma as Wells. I mean Malcolm McDowell—how could you top that? Guess what– I loved him. There is an innocence and vulnerability to his Wells that isn’t seen often in a “hero” role. What makes this work, what I think will keep the story going, is Wells and Stevenson see the world and mankind very differently—but I think they are both right.
Like I said, in the movie good triumphs over evil, the end. In modern storytelling nothing seems as black and white; more like the two coexist to balance one another. Stevenson and Wells are going to balance each other. Looking at the preview for what is to come, I think part of the show will be cat and mouse—but more it will be the two working together to keep the timeline in check and to beat a bigger evil.
I have my suspicions as to who Vanessa Anders really is—she said she ran the DNA and it shows she is related to Wells, but it isn’t like Wells is in any position to verify that. She had a note—but even if Wells wrote it, it doesn’t mean it was about her. She seemed way more interested in the key to the time machine than saving Jane. Her husband seems a little sketchy as well. The big clue I have as to her being disingenuous is her running a biotech company. Wasn’t that what Dr. Moreau did? I would call that biotech. Looking to the previews, the series will be exploring other works by H.G. Wells. Meaning we could have invisible men, Martians or insects from the moon. Speaking of the moon, I liked the nod to The First Men in the Moon, with the museum display of the Neil Armstrong right next to the H.G. Wells display.
I am excited to see where the series goes from here. I think this could be a great series—one thing I would like to see, just as in the movie, I would like to see Wells try McDonald’s for the first time.