Time After Time
Logline: Based on the 1979 novel by Karl Alexander, chronicles the epic adventures of young H.G. Wells and his Time Machine using the book and its feature adaptation as a starting point.
Cast: Freddie Stroma, Genesis Rodriguez, Jordin Sparks, Josh Bowman
Creators: Kevin Williamson (Writer / EP)
Studios: Warner Bros. TV, Outerbanks Entertainment
Young H.G. Wells & network television are not two things I would put together. But writer Williamson is highly respected, and this is based on a novel, so I get the pilot greenlight.
For some reason, I thought this would take place in modern-ish times. But no, we’re actually dropped into 1893 and Wells has built a time machine. Danger is afoot as Jack the Ripper is on the loose. And then he has to escape into the time machine to 2016. Aha — that makes sense now.
I first was confused why ABC would be interested in H.G. Wells. Then I remembered Sleepy Hollow and Elementary. Public domain IP still is making a dent on our television, though it’s obviously on the wane. Wells meets Jane in 2016, and he is a man out of time (like Encino Man, but you know, without Pauly Shore). Jane is understandably incredulous at first.
The interesting thing is how Wells navigates modern times. It’s fertile ground for humor. The problem is unlike Sleepy Hollow, there’s not something really pushing the story forward initially. By the end of the pilot, we find that the creatures and characters he’s written have come to life — including Dr. Moreau! This story idea feels like something we’ve seen before — plenty of scripts lately have taken this approach to exploiting public domain IP. I don’t think we’ve seen that on TV though.
Anyway, fun pilot. Did Williamson adapt this from someone else’s feature script? The cover page suggests possibly. My personal feeling is this set-up works better as close-ended movie and feels too gimmicky for 22 episodes. But Sleepy Hollow suggests otherwise.