Monday, February 1, 2016

My history with time-travel TV (and movies)


The other day, while we were all chatting about the random tangents that happen from Danyi's Monkey Talks, I started thinking about how flipping much I love time travel stories. Like, I Love them. I'd marry time travel stories if I could, and I'm pretty sure they would have come back in time because they were already in love with some random picture of me in the future. That's how much I love them.

I suck at putting things in chronogical order, which is ironic considering the subject of this discussion, but here's sort of how they go:

The Early Years, the ones that became a part of what makes me me:


Between Back to the Future and Quantum Leap, that's most of my childhood covered with time travel stories, not to mention the occasional episodes of other scifi shows where people wound up back in time and had to fix or not fix something. Kiddle reminded me that "City On The Edge of Forever" is one of the best Star Trek episodes ever.


There was this block of old 50s and 60s scifi that used to play in the afternoons when I was a kid. Time Tunnel was side by side with Land of the Giants, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and Lost In Space, and between them, I'm pretty sure, they layed down the foundation of my love for scifi travels in general.


And, of course, like every kid in the 80s who knew what PBS was, and like every kid in the UK ever, I watched The Doctor. Half of his stories aren't even time travel, but it's literally in his and his show's DNA, so he goes here.

The Teen Years. There was some sort of flap of these stories between middle school and high school, so there's lots here:


If "be excellent to each other" isn't a good message to take throughout time, I don't know what is.


I love this show so much, and as far as I know, it only exists now in usually-hard-to-find TV and VHS rips, and was never put on DVD and very rarely rerun. But it's so great. I mean, it's so 90s, but it's also fun and has spikes of seriousness, and Frank is one of the most fun nutballs on TV. It's great that you have to be literally a little crazy to pilot a time ship.


Terminator is an insanely awesome franchise that has existed literally almost as long as I have. I wrote and presented a paper on how they keep rewriting the apocalypse, creating their own struggle while also maintaining a perpetual pre-apocalypse, something that most stories, even time travel ones, don't do. There's a difference, I think, between the regular world -> apocalypse dynamic and the regular world -> pre-apocalypse ->apocalypse dynamic, and Terminator basically created it. Also, amazing love story, and I still maintain that SCC is one of the best shows I've fallen in love with and then had canceled on me.


And Time Trax! Another second-string scifi show I loved, that's never on reruns or DVD.

And this baby:


Note how there's more in this segment of my life than the previous. And now look at the Current Era of time-travel! Isn't it glorious?


Doctor Who is hard to classify to an era, since it has literally been around for more than 50 years, but I started watching it again after college, so I'm going to put the main part of it here. The Doctor is so un-bound to time, that his stories are some of the best uses of time travel or plot device when they're working right--stories that couldn't have existed without the time travel, rather than just ones where someone travels to the story as if it's a car or something.


And those wonderful stories! All three are off the air now--Continuum closed, Primeval never renewed (and the spin off wasn't good), and Terranova canceled with so much promise and not a lot of cohesion. But, of course, if it hadn't been canceled, I wouldn't now have...


My favorite show that's currently one the air! Oh my god, I talk about this show entirely too much, but it's really that good, and I can't stop won't stop about it. Being in the fandom for this show has literally changed my life and made this blog possible. Also, it's the most-sensical full-time time travel show I know. And made of about 700% feels, too, which is amazing--managing to world-build, character-built and complex-story-build all at once? Why haven't they won all the awards?


And for bonus, we have Legends! It's on a normal network channel*, so bonus, and it takes the totally opposite tack as my beloved 12 Monkeys--Legends of Tomorrow is a romp, pure and simple. They stole Rory from Doctor Who, gave him Captain Jack Harkness's backstory and a cool ship, and now he and the crew are just jumping around time and picking fights and messing up their own timelines. It's so much fun.

Related story-shape: Time Traveled Characters: These guys get honorable mentions, because time travel is a deep part of their world, but not the main plot-movement device.

What're your favorite time travel stories? Have I forgotten anything desperately important? Share in the comments or come talk to me on Twitter!

*CW has been around long enough to count as that now, right?
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