Television producers love to jump on trends. Over the years, as soon as one doctor show, legal drama or Western would become a hit, there would be a flood of new shows using similar themes.
The latest popular basis for TV shows is time travel. The gimmick of being able to leap across the years has been used over the years with shows such as “It’s About Time,” “The Time Tunnel” and “Quantum Leap.” But there have never been as many programs fiddling with time.
Following the CW launch of “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” NBC added “Timeless” and now ABC has put “Time After Time” on its schedule. There’s also the new Fox series “Making History.” You can also add the CW’s “Frequency,” Starz series “Outlander” and BBC America’s “Doctor Who.”
“Time After Time” is based on the 1979 feature film where H.G. Wells (Malcolm McDowell) uses a time machine he’s built to chase Jack the Ripper to modern times. Freddie Stroma takes on the role of Wells and Josh Bowman plays the Ripper in the new TV production.
Marcos Siega, an executive producer on “Time after Time,” explains that time travel is popular because it is an escapist fantasy.
Using time travel as the blueprint gives the writers and producers a wide array of story possibilities. It also comes with the inherent questions that always haunt such shows.
If something bad happens in the past, why doesn’t the hero just go back to before it occurs to stop it?
“The more we got into it, we started to realize that it opens up a lot of possibilities for storytelling. So in what we’re doing, it’s sort of a great jumping-off point to be able to jump around, go back in time. It does kind of sometimes put us in a position where it boxes us in because you start asking questions – what are the rules of time travel? – but it’s just a fun genre,” Siega says.
This big question will be addressed in “Time After Time.” Viewers will know why Wells didn’t just go back in time to five minutes before Ripper steals the time machine rather than chasing him into the 21st century.
“Time After Time” has a rule about “ripples in time” – if there is too much time travel to one place the fabric of time begins to fray.
Kevin Williamson, another executive producer on “Time After Time,” says, “If you do it too closely together and you travel within a day or a minute or a second of each other, you create a hole that will ultimately destroy the world, destroy time, destroy everything.
“We don’t time travel every week. It’s a very rare occasion. Every single time it happens, we bring, ‘You can’t do this. You are endangering all of time if you do this.’ So they have to sort of plot it out, where they’re going, who they are going to be encountering and so forth.”
The new Fox time traveling series, “Making History,” won’t have to worry about such serious matters. It’s a comedy about three friends from two different centuries who use time travel to escape their mundane lives. Their form of travel is a giant gym bag.
Adam Pally, Leighton Meester, Yassir Lester, John Gemberling and Neil Casey star.
Writer and executive producer, Julius Sharpe isn’t worried about being the latest in the growing number of time travel TV shows.
“They’re doing such a different thing. A. This is a comedy. B. Our show is a lot more about how the time travel facilitates these relationships across time,” Sharpe says. “It’s a romantic comedy about how two people who see the world differently can sort of get together, as well as make friends across time and have buddy comedy adventures across time.
“So we’re not dealing with serious implications constantly that I think they’re dealing with.”
The one thing all of the shows using leaps through years as a basis – they all need time to attract enough viewers to stay on the air.
Time After Time
- 9 p.m. Sunday, March 5, KFSN (Channel 30.1)
- 8:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5, KMPH (Channel 26.1)