Monday, March 10, 2014

Forgotten Fandoms - Seven Days

You know how there's shows that you totally love that no one ever talks about? Shows you wish there was more of an active, visible fandom for? Yeah, this is one of those, and here I am forcing it upon you in the grand tradition of fans who like things and get other people to like them.

The plot follows a secret branch of the United States' National Security Agency which has developed a time travelling device based upon alien technology found at Roswell. As the opening of the show says, the Chronosphere, or Backstep Sphere, sends "one human being back in time seven days" to avert disasters. The show's name refers to the fact that the Backstep Project can only backstep seven days because of limitations imposed by the fuel source and its reactor. As the fuel source is limited, there is a strict mandate that they only Backstep for events relating to "National Security". The backstep team and the equipment are stationed in a base called Never Never Land, which is in a secret location somewhere in the desert of Nevada.
This doesn't mention that it also has the limitation that it has to be flown by someone who is half-crazy, that the lead scientist is from Russia and is barely trusted, that there's all sorts of meddling, and that things are often bonkers because they can back up and fix them.

  • Ran from 1998-2001, at the height of the SG1-is-popular-let's-do-that-but-cheaper boom in SF TV
  • Three seasons / 66 episodes
  • Aired on UPN before it morphed into CW; has some of that feel, but is aimed at adults

Reasons to like it:
  • Main character is crazy, dude. Again from the Wiki: "U.S. Navy Lieutenant Francis "Frank" Bartholomew Parker (Jonathan LaPaglia), a former Navy SEAL and ex-CIA operative who was brought out of a secret CIA mental institution – due to a mental breakdown he had suffered as a result of being tortured while being a prisoner in Somalia – to be the project's chrononaut." He's very good at his job, but he's erratic, sometimes has freakouts, reacts to things strongly or oddly, and is still charming and irreverent. And it's nice that the ex-SEAL is actually cracked, because that's how it'd be; if you crack a guy trained that well, he stays cracked.
  • Lead Boy and Lead Girl basically fall in love right away, but because of how he has to keep going back in time to fix things, it's almost always undone, which means he remembers their constantly-restarted love affair and she doesn't. It's a nice switch up of the-network-won't-let-us-be-together and it adds a lot of melodrama that only a time-travel story can have.
  • The time travel ship is a giant polygon, it hurts to pilot it, and Frank is the only one who does it well, because he's crazy.
  • Never too serious, but walks that line where they can get emotionally and character-serious when they need to, and it's effective.
  • Russian counter-agents! Roswell is a definite, and it might still be aliens! Time loops and paradoxes being worked out! A lot of scientists coming up against a lot of military dudes!

Stuff to be aware of:
  • It's not available on DVD, which is a constant pain in my heart, but sometimes you can find it around.
  • As far as I know, no one is rerunning it, and it's not on Netflix, more pains in my heart.
  • It's a little cheesy the way all 90s SF is, but it generally gets past that anyway, mostly because the characters are fun and likable enough to get around the limitations.
If you find it somewhere, let us know in the comments!

Have you seen 7 Days? What did you think of it?
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