Time-travel TV: Timeslip (#SFWApro)

TIMESLIP was a 1971 British TV series in which thirteen-year-olds Simon and Liz (Spencer Banks, Cheryl Burfield) discover a rip in time at an abandoned Naval base near their home that they’re able to pass through. The opening of the first two story arcs had a scientist explaining how plausible this all is, but didn’t amount to more than “time is a ball of timey-wimey stuff.” That said, I like the rationale that passage through the timeslip is an act of will; adults can’t go through because they don’t really believe it’s possible.
The first arc has Simon and Liz confronting Nazis at the naval base during World War II. It’s stock, the kind of “kids vs. invaders” tale Britain had been doing for decades, but does set up the premise and gives us the manipulative scientist Traynor (Dennis Quilley) who keeps pushing the kids to explore time. The second arc picks up a lot as the kids find themselves in a 1990 Antarctic research station, run by the sinister Devereaux (John Barron). Here we meet the grown-up Liz (Mary Preston), an icy scientist embarrassed by her past self (presumably the mental aspect of time-travel explains why the kids always end up somewhere personally connected to them). Devereaux mentally links with the station computer and can therefore state with certainty that everything is running perfectly smoothly (three guesses how that turns out).
In the third arc, The Year of the Burn-Up, they’re in a different future with a free-spirited arty Beth (Preston again) and a grown-up Simon, a stuffy wonk (David Graham) obsessed with his standing in Europe’s oppressively technocratic government. The technocrats are attempting a kind of terraforming, remaking Europe’s landscape and climate—and once again, things are going wrong … (it makes me wonder if the Nazi scientist in the first arc was meant to foreshadow the abuse of science in later episodes). The final arc takes place in 1965 and 1971 as the kids struggle to avert the technocratic takeover.
There’s a lot to like about Timeslip, but two huge flaws. One is that the ending and the villain’s final fate makes absolutely no sense (even if it was meant to set up for a sequel). Another is the persistent sexism. At the start, Simon is a withdrawn science geek and Liz considerably stronger-minded. As the adventures go on, Simon increasingly assumes the hero role and Liz tags along behind him, little more than a bad Doctor Who companion. It really gets annoying.
Available on Netflix if you get the urge.

1 Comment

Filed under Now and Then We Time Travel, TV

One response to “Time-travel TV: Timeslip (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: Not much time-travel to review this week (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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