There is a recent surge in network television for the sci-fi genre, a trend that doesn’t appear to be fading. The newest example of which, “Time After Time,” is fantastically quirky, reminiscent of the work of Douglas Adams with ingenuity and a dazzling plot. And while series of the same nature may fizzle into the background, “Time After Time” has just enough personality to successfully pull off the dramatic science fiction genre.
Imagine a world in which H.G. Wells’s (Freddie Stroma, “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2”) famous invention, “Time Machine,” actually worked. The year is 1893 and Wells is a man out of his time — where else would he find refuge but the future? Under this idea, the writers draw heavily from the issues plaguing the “utopian” future that Wells envisioned. As he sits alone at the bar, television screens replay the worst of humanity — war, mass shootings and famine ravage the world. This future is no utopia, and upon this realization, a single tear rolls slowly down H.G. Wells’s cheek. It is in this scene that “Time After Time” differentiates itself from series with similar premises. The writers are not afraid to show heart and give importance to the smaller, emotionally powerful scenes over action-friendly ones.
In this same manner, “Time After Time” takes advantage of a unique opportunity: To see the world through the eyes of the past. This is a double-edged sword, however, as we see both moments which are well-acknowledged and those which just miss the mark. Assistant museum curator Jane Walker (Genesis Rodriguez, “Big Hero 6”) is originally portrayed as the strong, independent woman. Consistent with the time period, she waves off Wells’s comments regarding her position in the workforce and men’s comments regarding her single status. However, as the episode progresses, we see a sharp turn backwards, as she falls back into the role of the stereotypical love interest.
This movement from one character status to another is disappointing, as there was originally promise in strong character traits. A moment between a Black guard and Wells shows just how cruel a vision of utopian future could be, as the optimist finds himself thrust into a figurative hell. Though time-travel has always proved to be an uncertain trip to another reality, the parallels between the uncertainty we face in our reality is an especially interesting concept. Coupled with the return of Jack the Ripper (Josh Bowman, “Revenge”), we find an interesting opportunity to explore our world through new eyes. Ruggedly handsome, the Ripper finds himself intrigued by this new world, especially the place that he finds himself fitting into the new normal. Murder has become the new norm and Jack finds himself all too intrigued with the dystopian future. What this says about the ease with which our society has accepted our way of life is a matter of perception. Whatever the result, it’s safe to say that Wells would be disappointed in the future that we’ve built, both as a society and as new generation of life.
Overall, “Time After Time” is a polished series with genuine intrigue driving the plot forwards. Though it initially does not show much promise in terms of material, the ingenuity of the series to parallel reality with a vision of the future is an interesting concept — even if it isn’t one for multiple seasons. So long as “Time After Time” finds direction and sticks with it, it has the potential to differentiate itself from series of the same nature. Until then, the show will remain an interesting lens through which we are able to view our world as unbiased viewers.