TV Review: ‘Time After Time’

TV Review: 'Time After Time' on
(ABC/Giovanni Rufino)

H.G. Wells and Jack the Ripper, in modern-day New York City

Time After Time” piggybacks on a microtrend of time-travel shows to mash together a few different genres into one unwieldy premise: notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper on the loose in modern-day Manhattan, with science-fiction pioneer H.G. Wells chasing him through time. The show is a televised, modern update of the 1979 film of the same name. But unlike that film, which enjoys the odd and speculative mechanics of time travel — or other time travel shows, which use the premise to go to various points in time — “Time After Time” doesn’t seem all that interested in how the machine works or in stretching it to its limits. Wells pursues the Ripper to modern-day New York from Victorian London, and then the show decides to just camp out, going so far as to disable the time machine by the end of the second hour.

Wells is played by the charming Freddie Stroma, best known as Adam from “UnREAL,” at an age where he hasn’t yet written his novels (but has already invented some kind of time travel). He makes for an engaging, accented anachronism in the big city, and it would be sort of sweet if “Time After Time” just stopped with that as its plot mechanism. (In one exchange, he ends a conversation with: “What is Oprah?”)

Instead, it seems like the entirety of “Time After Time’s” temporal shenanigans exists just to get to the point where Jack the Ripper (Josh Bowman) starts slashing and hacking his way through a cross-section of Manhattan’s comely young women. The show was developed by executive producer Kevin Williamson, who has also worked on stabby thrillers like “Stalker” and “The Following.” Both previous shows suffered from an antiseptic revelry in violence against women; “Time After Time” so quickly settles into the groove of serial-killer procedural that it appears to be heading in the same direction.

The two men quickly settle into a détente in which the third lead, Jane (Genesis Rodriguez), is used as a sexualized bargaining chip between the two. On one hand there’s Wells, who is so taken with the 2017 museum curator that he’s practically declaring his chivalric love by the end of the pilot. On the other hand, there’s the Ripper, who focuses both on prostitutes in 1893 and on young women out at parties in 2017. With Jane, he’s half-flirtatious, half-murderous, which is an especially stomach-churning combination when he’s trying to explain to her why he just loves killing women.

The premise should make room for bonkers fun, or at least attempts at bonkers fun. But the studied shallowness of “Time After Time’s” approach to violence makes for a sickening dynamic that attempts to cheaply humanize a serial killer. And while a shallow look at violence might be all that broadcast television’s standards and practices will allow, it feels both flat and exploitative. Bowman gives it his all to creepy effect — but after a few bloody ends, it’s actually difficult to keep watching the show whenever the character starts speaking to a woman.

Aside from Stroma, who is a charming fellow even in the worst circumstances, there is nothing to recommend in “Time After Time,” which feels neither adequately steeped in time travel or the lore of H.G. Wells to really deliver what its premise suggests.

TV Review: 'Time After Time'

Drama, TK episodes (TK reviewed): Sun. Mar. 5, 9 p.m. 60 min.

Crew

Executive producer, Kevin Williamson

Cast

Freddie Stroma, Josh Bowman, Genesis Rodriguez, Nicole Ari Parker, Will Chase, Jennifer Ferrin

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  1. Roby-SA says:

    I had no TV for a month and wrote down the dates of all the shows I wanted to see on On Demand when I got my new one. Imagine my surprise to see the dates of “Time After Time” suddenly stop–esp. when the last episode showed a trailer for the following week. I like simple sci-fi and “innocent” romance. Apparently those who cancelled the show found both too mediocre.

  2. Rick James says:

    Stick to the Disney channels Sonia if you cant say something good the don’t fucking bother the show was brilliant i thought because of this review its been taken of thanks a bloody lot

  3. LORIN O'NEIL says:

    As a scholar, I actually enjoyed the show. I completely “caught” the various poetic licenses, yet went with the show’s fanciful escapism. Overthinking is something people over 75 grow to be suspicious and bored of/with. LORIN O’NEIL

  4. Karina d says:

    Bring the show back!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Jennie says:

    Great show. Nicely put together. Not every detail falls into place such as some characters not being as shocked as you would think at seeing the modern world, but really interesting story line just the same. It’s not a documentary people….it’s entertainment. This is a great show with plenty of drama to keep you intrigued if you’re not nit picking it. Such a shame to cancel something interesting like this while crap such as ‘Bachelor’ and Naked (whatever it’s called) live on in TV world. People are too shallow these days to appreciate a show like this. Their loss. Enjoy Dancing with the Stars or whatever mindless show you watch instead of this one.

  6. Michael S. says:

    This show is dreadful. I love all time travel shows and movies but this one and the truly dreadful Making History, need to be taken out back and shot.

  7. Terri Todd says:

    I absolutely loved this! I rarely stay up past 10 to watch anything on a Sunday night but I just had to see it to the end.

  8. BB says:

    Watched the entire first episode just because I like the time travel thing but… not as much culture shock as I expected (like when Wells didn’t react much to the computer; the Ripper appears to have no culture shock at all), not enough research on Wells (for instance, he was married in 1893)…otherwise it wasn’t the worst 2 hours of tv I ever watched.

  9. The pilot was just bad. Jane has a gun, given to her by her father. She hails from Texas, but then comes across as the damsel in distress. When she knocks the Ripper out with a heavy bowl, it doesn’t occur to her to just finish him off with another wack to the head, or to at least tie him up? The Ripper also learns how to deal with modern technology as if he was born in 2017. Whereas, Wells, with help, struggles. Since the Ripper is on his own, and Wells has all that extra help, this doesn’t seem too plausible. Also, the least the writer(s) could do is have some fun with the characters being in 2017… more so than the limited effort made. If this show has Wells and the Ripper spending all their time in 2017, this show will be a very big disappointment.

  10. This was one bad series. I tried to watch it but just couldn’t. The acting in it was awful. A pretty pitiful tv production taken off of a really good movie…I don’t see this one making it….all I can say go watch the movie Time After Time it is dated but still really good…this series stinks….

  11. zoe says:

    Ummmm…I loved it! The two male leads are great; charming (ok…Jack the Ripper shouldn’t be charming but I love the actor since Revenge), loved Wells’ emotional reaction/disappointment to the violence in the “future” world…loved his old world charm, his wonderment at all the technology (though nothing the future has invented comes close to his Time Machine). I was looking forward to this show and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s not promoted as a visual spectacular, a science fiction phenomena ala Westworld or Masterpiece Theater but just what it was…two notorious men playing cat and mouse through time. I hope it does well; looking forward to the next episode!

  12. nicejob34 says:

    Was excited for Time After Time but couldn’t even make it through the pilot. Wells obsesses over every little thing in a bathroom after not blinking at a wall of flat screen TV’s at the bar.

    And “Texas girl” gives pacifist Wells her gun when she’s going after JTR with him… BECAUSE???

    This show is just unwatchable.

  13. Lee konik says:

    Actor plying h.g. Wells sucks. The ripper is well casted

  14. Geonn Cannon says:

    “What is Oprah” was used as a joke on an episode of Stargate SG-1 back in 1994. It felt dated then.

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