Tonight after the Once Upon A Time midseason premiere, ABC premieres the first episode of their new drama Time After Time, based on the classic Nicholas Meyer movie of the same name in which H.G. Wells follows Jack the Ripper to the present day. Of course, “present day” is different here than it may have been when the movie came out in 1979, which adds an added wrinkle (in time) to make the show more unique.
“A man out of time” is hardly a new concept in TV science fiction, most recently, FOX’s Sleepy Hollow played with that trope to much early success. If there is anything the pilot episode of Time After Time reminds me of, it would be of early Sleepy Hollow, back in that time when that series was still quite good. Like Sleepy Hollow’s early days, Time After Time has an advantage of a cast that seems to bounce off of each other very well, with interesting dynamics, and, of course, there’s the time-lost aspect. While Dr. John Stevenson seems to be a bit of a chameleon who can acclimate to a new time period, H.G. Wells doesn’t get used to it so easily. And, like the Ichabod/Abbie dynamic in early Sleepy Hollow, the interaction between Wells and Genesis Rodriguez’s Jane (and actually, the way she interacts with Stevenson) is a highlight.
Time After Time comes from the pen of Kevin Williamson, himself not a stranger to screams and scares. He’s even been in charge of a show that had a character with a “ripper” streak. While I saw quality in Williamson’s recent entries Stalker and The Following, I almost think the added sci-fi tinge, as he had with The Vampire Diaries, brings out even more of his best qualities as a writer. Of course, knowing Williamson, one can expect some surprises and jump-from-your-seat moments, particularly in the premiere’s second hour. (I still question, though, why Jane didn’t just tie up a certain person when she had the chance in Episode 2). I am also intrigued that this series is supposed to borrow from other books in the H.G. Wells library, which could open things up to being more than just a time travel and man out of time show.
The direction from Marcos Siega and the production design also take Time After Time to a higher level which I appreciate. Again, it’s amusing to me how easily acclimated Stevenson gets to the present, just as it’s fun to see Wells fumble a bit. I’ve always loved the notion of H.G. Wells traveling through time in science fiction; the “Tempus” episodes of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman were always favorites, so seeing something like this is great.
Freddie Stroma is H.G. Wells in this version of the story, and again, his character’s reactions to certain things, like talking on a cell phone, are priceless. Wells also has a very interesting interaction and connection with a character named Vanessa (Nicole Ari Parker) that viewers will want to keep an eye on. Revenge’s Josh Bowman is Dr. John Stevenson, and as you can expect, he can be as charming as he can be violent. I feel like there’s a lot of Stevenson left to explore. Rounding out the main trio of characters is museum curator Jane, as played by Genesis Rodriguez. As I mentioned before, I’m curious to see where her character’s interaction goes with the others.
If the audience cares to catch it in this time of Peak TV, I think Time After Time could be the kind of comfortably enjoyable show that ABC needs at this point. But, with so much TV to choose from, anything new has its work cut out for it to stand out. TV audiences could do much worse than spending time with this series, which I think could go in very interesting directions.
Time After Time has a two-hour series premiere at 9PM ET/PT tonight (March 5) on ABC. See some photos from the first two episodes here.