“In our time, I was a freak. Today, I’m an amateur.”
These are the words John Stevenson aka Jack the Ripper says in the two-hour premiere of ABC’s “Time After Time” on March 5 2017. This means that the one-year-anniversary just came around. Feeling this show has been really unappreciated, I wanted to introduce you all to one of my biggest guilty pleasures of 2017.
This series is about the 19th-century author H. G. Wells, who travels in time to the year 2017 with a self-made time machine to find his friend John Stevenson, who had been chased by the police for being the infamous Jack the Ripper and fled to the future. Stevenson adapts quickly to the present and is very quick to google himself. Wells, on the other hand, is bewildered by this future that is totally different than he imagined. While Wells befriends the museum curator Jane Walker, John goes on a killing spree.
Yes, the premise sounds campy, ridiculous and over the top. But hear me out!
The premiere received mixed reviews and had a viewership of only 2,54 million viewers (US). Even though the perception overall was mixed, some dedicated fans started writing Fan Fiction and making a picture and video edits on the various social media platforms. Unfortunately, only 21 days after the premiere the show was cancelled.
Josh Bowman plays the twisted John Stevenson. He is genuinely dangerous, unpredictable and outshines the other performances. Freddie Stroma is also very good in playing the infamous H. G. Wells and his moral dilemmas feel plausible, even if sometimes a bit unrealistic. Maybe this is due to the fact that the character is born in the 19th Century. Genesis Rodriguez felt a bit one-dimensional as Jane Walker. Even though she has good chemistry with both Stroma and Bowman, her character never felt as real as the other two. She sometimes seems to be overacting and slightly disappointed as the third most important character.
One of the main questions of the show is if every action is either good or bad or if there can be something in-between. Wells and Stevenson have some vivid discussions and even when one of them changes their position slightly, the show never gives a clear answer.
As hinted at in the quote, the developments that happened from 1893 until 2017 are presented. Everything from the dating habits to the methods of warfare has changed and the series shows how different personality types perceive it. The psychopath John feels more at home nowadays than in his original time. Seeing images of war and violence makes him seem like one freak in a world of many. Wells expected his dreamt utopia but sees a world that didn’t improve, simply change. Even though the show doesn’t cover these topics to the full extent, it leaves the viewer space to think about it.
The decision to include hints to Wells’ most famous works, mostly “The Time Machine” and “The Island of Dr Moreau” makes the series link to the life and books of the real H.G. Wells. The comments from the characters about the books make the show seem self-aware and inspired me personally to read some of the mentioned works.
The ending is unexpected and leaves the viewer, or at least me, begging for more episodes. The second season could have gone many different ways, even changed the genre due to a different setting, but we will never know!
This show is not perfect, but with the second season of this series could have improved its characters and fixed the aspects that people dislike about it.
But as this show taught me: History is not fixed and can be changed!