Failed time-travel pilots and more! (#SFWApro)

MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001) was David Lynch’s pilot for a proposed Twin Peaks-style series, which he then turned into a movie when the networks passed. Rewatching this I can see the pilot aspects—there are more subplots and characters than a film really needs—but the transition of Naomi Watts from one character to a lookalike who died several weeks earlier isn’t clear enough that this qualifies for my book (if it had gone to series, maybe). Better than I thought the first time, but not good enough.“That’s where I was going—Mulholland Drive.”

It shows how blurry the TV/film/Internet boundary is getting that while PARALLELS (2015) was released through Netflix it’s either a failed TV pilot or an attempt to build support for the series concept (I’ve read different accounts). A good Sliders variation, this has two adult siblings and their best friend enter an office building that double as a dimensional gateway, leaving them bouncing between worlds, encountering doppelgangers and hooking up with a young woman who’s More Than She Seems. A promising series; as a pilot, watchable, but too big a cliffhanger to be satisfying. “You can tear this building down or you can find your answers—but you can’t do both”

MV5BMjAxNzc0NTE2Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTcwMTE5Mg@@._V1_SX214_AL_UNCERTAINTY (2008) is a Sliding Doors-type film in which Joseph Gordon-Leavitt and his girlfriend flip a coin to decide whether to abort her pregnancy, after which we follow them along two different life tracks … but she doesn’t get or even make an appointment for an abortion in either one. Instead we get plotline A in which the couple visit the girlfriend’s family and the less successful B plot, in which they’re etangled with criminals (like one-half of Sliding Doors had been a Lifetime jeop).“Can we tell her it was my idea?”

BLUE FLAME (1993) is a feeble film set in the far-future world of 2020 in which Brian Wimmer gets trapped in a Pretentious Surreal Dreamscape hunting the aliens who took his little girl. Qualifies for the appendix on the basis of a last-minute time change that reunites the family. “You don’t even understand that when a ray of life hits a surface, it leaves a residue.”

I watched the anthology DEAD OF NIGHT (1977) for the “Second Chance” feature in which Ed Begley Jr. discovers his perfectly restored speedster allows him entry into 1926 where he unwittingly saves the former owner from death at a railroad crossing. Based on a Jack Finney story, adapted by Richard Matheson, this is rather stock by my current viewing standards and shows Finney’s usual nostalgia for days gone by. “You can’t drive into 1926 along a four-lane highway.”

GEMINI (1999) is a Japanese thriller in which an icy doctor with an amnesiac wife finds himself haunted by a doppelganger—which turns out to be nothing but an abandoned twin raised in poverty rather than anything supernatural. Decent, but not what I expected (and obviously not for the book), especially given the emphasis on the doctor’s own shady past (so I was anticipating the double would be either his Mr. Hyde or the better angel of his nature) “The mother and child knew the rumors about you—and they believed it.”

CLOUD ATLAS (2012) is an immense Filmed Book in which Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and Tom Hanks, among other play multiple roles in the stories of an imperiled 18th-century slave trader, a pair of questers on a future world, a woman fighting against oppression in a dystopian future, and a perpetually broke publisher trying to bust out of the nut-house. While the individual segments are often excellent (and inevitably often not) this never ties them together enough to be more than an anthology film, which at three hours isn’t enough. “Are there no true Scotsmen in this building?”

WHEN TIME EXPIRES (1997) stars Richard Grieco as a discredited ET time cop assigned a cakewalk mission to drop a coin in a small-town parking meter to “calibrate” his agency’s predictions of Earth’s future. Only for a trivial job it somehow attracts the attention of hired gun Tim Thomerson, Grieco’s old partner Mark Hamill and then there’s waitress Cynthia Geary whose father Chad Everett is actually another retired cop. One I watched for my first book, but it holds up well on the second go-round (and I missed a couple of pertinent time-travel points, so I’m glad I did rewatch it) “There’s lots of worlds out there worth saving—don’t die trying to save Earth.”

(Poster image rights remain with current holder).

1 Comment

Filed under Movies, Now and Then We Time Travel

One response to “Failed time-travel pilots and more! (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: Time Travel Without Teenagers (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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