Time travel is a concept that I truly love, but at the same time, it can get really complicated if there aren’t any rules established. But who better to make a time travel show about than H.G. Wells, the author of The Time Machine himself? Among several new time travel shows this year, like Timeless and Making History, which ironically made its debut on the same night, Time After Time certainly delivered with some nice character dynamics and did a good job of setting up exactly what the lead characters are up against, even if the plot isn’t entirely original.
Here’s what you need to know:
In 1893, H.G. Wells (Freddie Stroma) has built himself a time machine. However, it’s sitting in his basement just waiting to be used; there’s something holding Wells back besides running some final tests: fear. Fear of the unknown, of change, of dreams being shattered. Having only started the novel he’s best known for, The Time Machine, and none of his friends believing that his machine could actually work, Wells is finally forced to use it after Dr. John Stevenson (Josh Bowman), AKA Jack the Ripper, steals it. Wells later finds himself in the middle of present day New York City and, with the help of a museum curator named Jane Walker (Genesis Rodriguez), is intent on hunting his former friend down and bringing him back to Scotland Yard to face legal action for his crimes.
One of the best things about the pilot was the strange new friendship and potential romantic relationship between Wells and assistant museum curator Jane Walker. Wells is a dreamer, believing that the future would be peaceful for the human race, that utopia would finally be reached and there would no violence. Jane’s far more pragmatic and takes smart and measured precautions when faced with the reality of the situation. They balance each other in that respect. She doesn’t believe Wells’ story until he shows her proof and he’s quick to see some beauty in the new world he’s found himself in.
While Wells and Jane are a bit more well-rounded, Dr. John Stevenson isn’t anymore than a handsome murderer seeking out women to kill. It’s a little off-putting that the show opened with the brutal murder of a woman. Stevenson is only interesting in regards to the questions he brings up for Wells to ponder about humanity’s violent tendencies and their refusal to change. He argues that he fits in better in 2017 than he does in 1893 because violence today is encouraged. After all, anyone can walk into a store and buy a firearm, right? Wells, although seeing that utopia might never be reached, isn’t one to give up hope so easily if it means falling into the same line of thinking as John. Thus far, their dynamic is interesting enough to carry the season.
Time After Time utilizes a popular and well-known person in history to a degree that strengthens the plot. At the same time, it does rely somewhat on often-used time travel and romantic tropes, but thankfully doesn’t overuse them; nor does it drag anything out to the point of frustration. The series premiere ensures that, while there is a plot and a goal that the main characters must achieve, it’s the characters and their relationships that will be driving the story and not the other way around. The story is also simple enough for now to not have opened up massive time travel plot holes. I suppose traveling to the future instead of the past is easier for time travel logic. But for anyone who’s a fan of everything involving time travel, time-crossed romance, and of H.G. Wells in particular, then Time After Time is definitely worth checking out.
Time After Time airs on Sundays at 9/8c on ABC and stars Freddie Stroma, Genesis Rodriguez, Josh Bowman, and Nicole Ari Parker.