Have you ever watched a television program and been so indifferent about it that it freaks you out? Like, you finish the pilot, but you still watch more because you can’t seem to form a solid opinion. That was me with ABC’s newest drama Time After Time.
This hour-long sci-fi semi-period drama follows Jack the Ripper (played by Revenge‘s Josh Bowman) and H.G. Wells (played by Freddie Stroma) as they time travel to modern day via H.G.’s first draft time machine. Jack’s motive is the escape the police and, while he’s at it, kill some more. H.G. is trying to find his friend John (Jack’s real name) and return him back to Victorian England and imprison him.
The time machine’s modern day location is a museum in New York City, which is where we meet Jane (played by Génesis Rodríguez, who was Honey Lemon in Big Hero 6), who works at the museum and is freaked out by these “actors” getting past guards and being really into their period roles. However, once she finds out their real presence, everything goes a little crazy.
At its core, the show is if you reached into a bag o’ plot points, pulled out about five, stuck them in a blender and produced a show around the plot smoothie. They are trying to capture Jack, while Jane and H.G. are starting to fall in love, while Vanessa Anders (played by Nicole Ari Parker) is trying to decode a message from H.G., while a ton of other characters (one introduced at the end of Episode 2 made me audibly go “Oh, come on!”) are present for reasons I can’t put my finger one yet.
Here’s the deal though… I don’t know what I think about it. I watched the first two episodes, but I went in with dread and bad expectations. Maybe because they were so low, I ended the first episode intrigued enough to watch the next, but I still didn’t totally care. I wouldn’t go as far to say that I was hate-watching, but there are clear parts that I can’t stand and others that I really dig.
Let’s start with the good: The cast is really great. Nicole Ari Parker is seemingly doing Vanessa Williams cosplay, which is not a bad thing whatsoever. Her character is instantly regal and you want to just sit and talk with her. I also won’t entirely mind if she starts singing “Save the Best for Last” at some point during the first season. Freddie Stroma and Josh Bowman are very good in their period roles, with Freddie playing that wonderment of being in the future very well. (“What is Oprah?” is a line I want tattooed on my wrist.) The big stand out, for me, is Génesis Rodríguez as Jane. She is so fun and gosh darn likable that I’m pretty sure her presence is my sole reason for continuing to watch. She is just so delightful and is consistently confused and amazed at all the craziness going on around her in such a small amount of time. She’s great. Also, she’s Honey Lemon, so she gains bonus points. And, um, the time machine is pretty.
The bad is just as plentiful, as I totally don’t care about Jack the Ripper. The serial killer storyline gets very repetitive very quickly. You just want someone to kill him, but the problem is that ruins time itself if he is killed in the future, which brings me to the bigger problem at hand: time travel shows are impossible to understand. Suspending disbelief, I get it. However, it’s hard to suspend disbelief when the “rules” they’ve put in place for time travel don’t add up. If you think about any part of this show too hard, everything will be ruined for you. This happened to me multiple times throughout the show.
Also, this is a personal detail that always bothers me that is me being annoying and not the show’s fault, but Times Square scenes always tick me off. The time machine brings them back to modern day (like, 4 days ago), but the ads in Times Square are from the fall of 2015. H.G. Wells couldn’t see the Deaf West revival of Spring Awakening in 2017, as it closed. COME ON! *heads straight to therapy to work out trivial anger*
I honestly can say that I will probably keep watching, but I have no idea why. I guess the best analogy I can give is this is the Jurassic World of television. It’s something that you know isn’t that good, but you enjoy watching anyway.
Time After Time gets 2.5 convoluted time travel rules out of 5.
Time After Time premieres March 5th at 9 p.m. on ABC.