Okay, so I am a sucker for time travel stories in print and on a screen. When I read that two new time travel television shows would launch this season, I set my DVR.
As I have written before about time travel stories, they have a long history in print from H.G. Wells The Time Machine and likewise in the movies and on TV.
Timeless is one of the new time travel series that premiered this fall. In it a history professor (Abigail Spencer), a scientist (Malcolm Barrett) and a soldier (Matt Lanter) are charged with trying to stop Garcia Flynn (Goran Višnjić). Flynn is (or appears to be) a time-traveling criminal who has stolen the main “mothership” time machine from a research facility and seems bent on changing the course of American history.
The show went through lengthy negotiations in order to get “in-season stacking rights”, which allows NBC to stream all episodes of the series’ current season via all the network’s online platforms.
Flynn and his associates are plotting to rewrite American history, but the team of three other “good guys” time travelers (using a smaller auxiliary time machine) also have some connections to Flynn’s plan. Lucy Preston’s primary concern is for her ailing mother. Master Sergeant Wyatt is grieving over the recent demise of his wife. Rufus, the scientist who helped develop the time machine, is distressed over the fact that criminal mastermind Garcia Flynn stole his invention.
In the first episode, they traveled back to the day the Hindenburg zeppelin burst into flames while landing in New Jersey. They should never change the past, but it ended up that the crash still occurred but in a different way. That set up changes in the present that they returned to in 2016. I like that so far the plots have not left history “as is” but that the changes are good, bad and still largely unknown.
Frequency is the other new television series that airs on The CW. It is inspired by the 2000 film of the same name. In the film, given the chance to travel back in time and change one event in his life, the protagonist John Sullivan wants to undo a fire took the life of his firefighter father.
Similar to the film, the TV show is set in 2016, where NYPD Detective Raimy Sullivan (Peyton List) discovers that she is able to speak to her deceased father Frank Sullivan (Riley Smith) twenty years back in time in 1996 using his old ham radio.
Her attempts to save his life trigger a “butterfly effect” that occurs when we change the past and it sends ripples that changes the present in unforeseen ways. So far, in order to fix the damage, she must work with her father across time via the radio to solve a decades-old murder case.