TV Time Travel, invasions from the moon and death playing chess: TV and movies

Netflix’ time-travel show TRAVELERS had its merits, but didn’t quite click with me. The premise is that a team of agents from the future has come back to 2016 to avert their future by changing a key event or two. To make the leap, they land in the bodies of people on the brink of death, which saddles them with their host bodies’ various relationships, jobs, health problems, etc. Focusing on personal drama more than changing time was a smart move, but it didn’t integrate the personal with the SF elements the way Odyssey 5 managed to do, and the bleak, downbeat tone of the personal stories just lost me. I won’t be back for S2.

12 MONKEYS’ third season, by contrast, worked great. At the end of S2, Cassie discovers she and Cole are the parents of the Witness, the leader of the Army of the 12 Monkeys plotting to end time and create a timeless, deathless world. Worse, Cassie wound up a prisoner of the Army, so they can see the Witness brought up to fulfill his destiny. Can Cole rescue Cassie? What will their allies do if they learn killing Cassie in say, 1990, would end the Witness’s threat? It’s a twisty entertaining season setting up for the finalé in S4. As usual Emily Hampshire steals the show as Jennifer Goines (a more entertaining version of Brad Pitt’s character in the film), particularly when she has to turn herself into a star of the Paris stage. “Nothing in either morality or causality prevents me killing you.”

RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON (1952) ain’t an A-list serial but it shows the competence with which Republic usually approached the genre (as opposed to The Undersea Kingdom). A quasisequel to King of the Rocketmen, using that film’s flying suit (the inspiration for The Rocketeer) but with a new character, Commando Cody. In the first episode, gangsters working for the first wave of a lunar invasion are disrupting American shipping with a devastating nuclear cannon; brilliantly deducing this ties in with atomic activity on the moon, Cody leads his cast to our satellite, where Retik (veteran villain Roy Barcroft) is indeed plotting Earth’s conquest. This is better all round than Undersea Kingdom, but annoyingly mundane, with a few too many car chases and shoot outs. Fun, nonetheless, but they never explain why they’re “radar men.” “Do you have an atomic bomb strong enough to start a volcanic eruption in the Mt. Alda volcanic crater?”

After reading We All Are Legends inevitably I rewatched Ingrid Bergman’s THE SEVENTH SEAL (1957) in which a young Max von Sydow plays a knight terrified of what might await him in the next world; when Death shows up, he buys time by talking Death into a chess game. Meanwhile his squire and various l0w-comic characters intrigue and romance each other (I can see a similarity to Bergman’s Smiles of a Summer Night), unaware that with the Black Death at hand, Death can’t be far away. Visually impressive, dark and one of the movies that made Bergman Bergman. “You play chess, don’t you? I’ve seen it in paintings.”

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2 Comments

Filed under Movies, TV

2 responses to “TV Time Travel, invasions from the moon and death playing chess: TV and movies

  1. I agree with you about Travelers. Tim was really drawn to this show. I liked the characters and casting of a diverse team, but by the end there were too many weird plot twists that didn’t make sense. We started Season 2 but it felt so muddled that we gave up after the second episode. Will have to check out Odyssey 5.

  2. I really enjoyed that one. Partly because they did some things differently from most time travel movies/series and I’d seen so many of them.

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