A busy week for watching time-travel television, not to mention some series I had to settle for just researching. And in several cases, I only watched a couple of episodes—the anime DORAEMON (1973), for example, doesn’t have any sort of big arc or grand design, just a flexible kids-TV concept. The impoverished descendants of pre-teen Nobita send a robot back to help him succeed in life (because then they’ll be better off) but the best they can afford is Doraemon, a talking cat-bot with an amazing arsenal of gimmicks to get Nobita out of trouble (like the Dandelion Fluff Comb: your hair puffs up like dandelion seeds and you float gently through the air instead of falling). I can see why it’s hooked kids for 30-plus years, but I’m way outside the target range.
EUREKA (2006-12) gets into the book for a plotline in which several cast members traveling back in time leads to major changes in the status quo: nerdy Fargo now runs the town of geniuses in which the series is set; Jo’s boyfriend loathes her; Allison’s autistic son is now normal; Henry is married. And they can’t explain why any of this is weird because if word gets out, they’ll be subject to serious military sanctions … I can probably put this in the appendix (it doesn’t massively affect the plot after the first few subsequent episodes) but it had enough of an effect perhaps I won’t. In any case, this was a fun one to rewatch (rights to image reside with current holder). “I’ll call my paper ‘Beam Me up Scotty’—unless I go for a title that’s more recent and more serious.”
DOCTOR WHO: Day of the Daleks kicked off Jon Pertwee’s third season (as Hulu’s no longer streaming these, I’m back to watching and reviewing intermittently rather than season by season), bringing back the Daleks for the first time since their destruction in Evil Of the Daleks. A series of assassination attempts on a prominent diplomat trace back to a Dalek-ruled future Earth, but coming from the resistance (which believes the man is responsible for the devastating war that left us vulnerable to invasion) rather than the Daleks. This has some good use of time paradoxes (though one, the Doctor and Jo showing up to meet themselves, isn’t resolved) and introduces the Blinovitch Limitation Effect (a rule of time travel that says you can’t go back and undo your own actions). However it looks too much like a low-budget version of Dalek Invasion of Earth: only three Daleks and the future sets are either cellars or open fields. “Every choice we make changes the history of the world.”
I’m a huge fan of INUYASHA but given my current time constraints I was quite bummed to learn of a sequel series, INUYASHA: The Final Act, because I’d have to add that in. Surprise! I already saw it but misremembered it as part of the main series (but rewatching the last episode cleared some misperceptions of how it finished). The story of a time-traveling schoolgirl, a permanently grouchy dog-demon and their oddball companions is one of my favorites, and if time had permitted I’d have been happy to rewatch the whole thing. Inuyasha—sit! “The sound of your voice has only given Kagome false hope.”
ATLANTIS (2013-15) by contrast is a clunking adventure in which a man stumbles through a dimensional gate into ancient Atlantis, where he has the usual sword-and-sandal adventures with an occasional touch of magic. There’s nothing in this I haven’t seen done better countless times. “How could a city exist under the ocean?”
BEING ERICA (2009-11), by contrast, was charming enough under other circumstances I’d have enjoyed watching it. The protagonist believes her miserable no-boyfriend, no-career, no-parental approval life is the result of all her bad choices; her enigmatic therapist gives her the chance to go back in time and change them (though like Roark on Fantasy Island, the lesson learned is usually what Erica needs, not what she wants). Online research indicates that while Erica has a lot of experiences, I can get a reasonably good sketch of the show with the couple of episodes I found online. Extra points for making fun of the butterfly-effect theory (“Is it possible that your alcohol consumption, while important to you, does not affect the world?”) “There are many mistakes, but listening to your inner voice isn’t one of them.”
SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE’S THE LOST WORLD (1999-2002)is a series I’m familiar with but I rewatched the final two episodes just to refresh my memory. This story of Professor Challenger and his crew trapped on a plateau that includes not only Doyle’s dinosaurs but time warps and jungle girls isn’t A-list but I’d certainly have been back if the cliffhanger (everyone trapped in a different time zone facing a different peril) had been followed by another season. “It’s not reincarnation at all—it’s my body!”
More in the next post.