Sunday, March 12, 2017

Pilot Review: Time After Time

Time After Time (ABC)
Premiered March 5 at 9pm

I’m a big fan of time travel – anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows that. I got through all of “Timeless,” am still sticking with “Legends of Tomorrow” and “The Flash,” and I tried to like “Frequency,” which sort of counts but has already been cancelled anyway. All of this dates back to H.G. Wells and his popular book, and therefore it seems fitting that he would be the focus of his own fictional series based on both a book and its film adaptation from 1979. What this show absolutely gets right and does in a superb way, evoking “Kate and Leopold,” is the fascination that its characters from the past find upon encountering the future. While John, better known as Jack the Ripper, adjusted very well to modernity and its acceptance of violence, H.G. is still flummoxed by all the things the present has to offer. His commitment to formality and politeness is pretty great, and it’s no surprise that those who don’t know who really is, like Vanessa’s husband, are immediately suspicious of his presence since he truly doesn’t fit in. There are certain pieces, like how he will later go back in time to affect events or that bringing Jane with him to stop John’s second murder is precisely what made her a target, that he doesn’t seem to get which are somewhat obvious, but I suppose this show can be forgiven. Both Freddie Stroma, as H.G., and Josh Bowman, as John, are well-cast, and they can probably do a pretty good job of carrying the show. This was better than I thought but still didn’t command my attention or intrigue me enough to demand another watching.

How will it work as a series? While this could be a fun adventure series that really understands the appreciation for traveling through time, my concern is that it comes from Kevin Williamson, whose last two series, “The Following” and “Stalker,” have tended more towards a murderous, disturbing nature, and less towards a more hopeful and exciting spirit. Maybe it will be more like his much more popular crowd-pleasing first series, “Dawson’s Creek.”
How long will it last? The reviews have been generally positive if not entirely enthusiastic, and the premiere numbers for this two-hour debut weren’t too great. As a result, I wouldn’t expect that this show will be immediately renewed, especially if ABC has other series that fare better with the ratings. I think this show could be a success, but it’s going to need to perform better.

Pilot grade: B