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Scott D. Pierce: It's a tale of 2 new time-travel shows

Published March 7, 2017 10:00 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Television programmers and producers are under the impression that viewers are obsessed with time travel.

So far this season, we've seen "DC's Legends of Tomorrow," "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency," "Doctor Who," "The Flash," "Frequency," "Once Upon a Time," "Outlander," "Timeless" and "12 Monkeys" — and, purely by coincidence, two more series will be added to that list.

ABC travels back 38 years, giving us a remake of "Time After Time," a movie that was released in 1979.



And Fox travels back to a time when people thought poop and pee jokes were funny, giving us the alleged comedy "Making History."

"Time After Time" (Sunday, 8 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4) is not just an echo of the 1979 movie, it's a remake. At least to begin with.

The first episode includes lines of dialogue from that very good time-travel movie, which was written and directed by Nicholas Meyer.

The series centers on writer H.G. Wells (Freddy Stroma, "UnREAL"), who, in 1890s London, has built a time machine. Wells is a brilliant guy with terrible taste in friends. His pal Dr. John Stevenson (Josh Bowman, "Revenge") turns out to be Jack the Ripper — and he steals the time machine and transports himself to present-day America.

Wells pursues him and finds out that the future is a lot different from what he envisioned.

The first couple of hours are very entertaining. Which isn't surprising, given that the show is basically just cribbed from a very entertaining movie. The question is how this premise is going to hold up starting in Episode 2 (which was not screened for critics).

Executive producer Kevin Williamson ("Dawson's Creek," "The Following") assures us he's got it all figured out.

"What we're doing, basically, is telling the story of a young H.G. Wells," he said.

The first episode is "sort of a launching point" (obviously), and future episodes will touch on Wells' novels like "The Island of Doctor Moreau," "The Invisible Man" and "The War of the Worlds."

"We sort of show the inspiration for all those books that he is going to go back [to the 19th century] and write," Williamson said.

Only time will tell if it works out.

"Making History" (Sunday, 7:30 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13) is an unfunny "comedy" about a time-traveling moron.

Adam Pally ("Happy Endings") stars as Dan, the facilities manager at a small college who discovers that his late father invented a time machine.

Dan has been traveling back to colonial times, where he finds a girlfriend — Paul Revere's daughter, Deborah (Leighton Meester, "Gossip Girl") — and messes up the American Revolution. So he enlists geeky college professor Chris (Yassir Lester, "Girls") to go back and help him fix things.

The time machine itself is a big duffle bag. So there are plenty of scenes of people zipping themselves inside it.

"This is so stupid," Chris says the first time he's zipped in.

Why, yes. Yes it is.

And then when they arrive in 1775, Chris immediately starts vomiting.

"Oh, I forgot to tell you," Dan says. "The past smells like poop because there is doody everywhere."

Shortly thereafter, founding fathers John Hancock and Samuel Adams prank Chris into drinking urine out of a chamber pot — then laugh uproariously about how clever they are.

So, yeah, poop and pee jokes. Not funny. Not clever. Not worth watching.

Scott D. Pierce covers TV for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.

 

 

 

 

 

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