Time After Time (ABC) pilot preview: This is how ABC plans to help you grieve Forever at last

FREDDIE

Created and executive produced by Kevin Williamson (The Following, The Vampire Diaries, Dawson’s Creek, Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer). Based on Karl Alexander‘s novel & Nicholas Meyer‘s movie. Directed by Marcos Siega (Blindspot, The Following, The Vampire Diaries, Dexter). Also executive produced by Lauren Wagner (Stalker, The Following). For ABC, Warner Bros. Television. & Outerbanks Entertainment. 61 pages.

Description: It is London, 1893. H.G. Wells is destined to become a famed science fiction author, but on this evening he’s just a little known writer struggling to get published. He has invited his intellectual friends to show off his new invention – a time machine – but never suspects his late arriving guest, surgeon and friend John Stevenson, is the infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper. When the police arrive looking for him, John sneaks into the time machine and flees to modern day Manhattan with Wells in hot pursuit. There Wells meets Jane Walker, a charming museum curator, who’s about to die in the hands of John if he doesn’t stop him in time…

With Freddie Stroma (UnREAL, Pitch Perfect, Harry Potter), Josh Bowman (Revenge, Make it or Break it), Genesis Rodriguez (Entourage, Identity Thief), Regina Taylor (DIG, The Unit), Jordin Sparks

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Kevin Williamson fascinates me. Really. His scripts always get ordered to pilot and his pilots always get ordered to series. That’s how good he is on the page, as a writer, but also as an executive producer. It doesn’t mean his shows are always good -remember Stalker– and last long -remember Hidden Palms– but he’s an incredible storyteller. He simply knows how to write efficient, entertaining and edgy network television. He has a large number of obsessions -serial killers are one, love triangles are another- that make all of this shows very familiar but also very different at the same time because he never tells the same story twice. This pilot season, he created two -This + Ghost at The CW- and produces one, Recon for FOX (Read the preview). Time After Time is definitely the best. And also one of the best pilot scripts at ABC overall. I would VERY surprised if they don’t order it. Because of its quality, because of its huge potential and because of…

Time After Time is not produced in-house, it’s a Warner Bros. Television production. BUT ABC signed an “unprecedented” stacking rights deal with them a few weeks ago so they’re able to offer all in-season episodes –rather than the current practice of the “rolling five” most recent 5 in-season episodes– of any new Warner Bros. series launched in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons on a variety of video-on-demand platforms. And Time After Time happens to be the only drama pilot in contention at ABC that is produced by them. So you do the maths. If they don’t pick it up, the deal is a waste of money, at least for this first year. They also have comedy pilot Dream Team (read the preview) that is very much alive.

Why such a deal was made? Certainly to avoid another “Forever situation”. Remember last year, the funny police producedural didn’t match ABC’s expectations in terms of ratings and was cancelled after one season, even though it had a huge fanbase, promising storylines and a terrible timeslot where it was almost impossible to do satisfying numbers. If Forever had been a ABC Studios show, they would probably have offered it a second season. But it was from Warner Bros. so it died. I know many fans are still very angry about this and I see Time After Time as a possible way to make amends to them. It’s not the same show, it’s not the same story, it’s not the same actors, but it shares a lot of DNA with Forever and gives the same promise to the audience: a fun, solid series, led by a charming duo, with a hint of science-fiction.

The only big difference –that might also be a real problem– is there is no cop involved at this stage of the story, so no clear procedural element. There’s an ongoing hunt to find Jack The Reaper in New York City and stop his savage crimes towards innocent women, but the rest is mostly dramedic. A man from 1893 navigating modern life is a fertile ground for jokes and awkward situations as you can imagine, including yummy shirtless scenes that makes us very comfortable. It’s really funny and sweet. Plus, HG Wells has an interesting point of view on our society since he’s an outside player who has no other choice but to play the game if he wants to fit in, but as a dreamer, a hopelessly romantic and someone who deeply believes in utopia, he’s very disappointed to discover that the world in 2016 is nothing like what he imagined in his novels. It’s cutely sad.

I just can’t wait to watch Freddie Stroma in this part. He was tremendously sexy in UnREAL. Here, he can be even more. This HG Wells is a mix between Sherlock, Harry Morgan & David Tennant’s Doctor Who. The cliché of the authentic english man who makes girls wet when he cracks a joke or simply opens his mouth. His sort of innocence is a breath of fresh air, compared to the cynicism –which also has its charms– of a Dr House or a Lucifer. Hoping Stroma has a great chemistry with his female partner Genesis Rodriguez. Its success will depend on it. Her character is a buzzy modern girl, not particularly special, not the life of the party, but she has secrets, of course. And a roommate.

The Jack The Reaper part is the most worrying. Not only because he’s played by Revenge‘s Josh Bowman, who’s not a good actor in my opinion. How long can they look for him? It makes me think of The Following. It was a great concept for one season, but what do do you do after that? This example proves it can be very tricky for the writers and nothing good can come out of it. It’s adapted from a book and a movie, which both have a real end. What’s the ultimate goal of Time After Time? I’m not sure. But one element makes me think Kevin Williamson may have a plan. A smart one. Towards the end of the pilot, we’re introduced to a new character, Vanessa Anders, who’s HG’s great granddaughter! And she was waiting for him all along. She knew he would come. We learn characters from HG Wells’ novels have came to life, like Dr Moreau from The Island of Dr Moreau; or The Invisible Man. Maybe every season will tackle a new villain? Anyway, there are many stories to tell.

Time After Time has an ambitious and smart concept where time travel is the just a start. It has everything else it needs to attract a huge fanbase: a charming duo at the center with love in the air, a great deal of fun, suspense… It’s one of the best scripts I’ve read this year, honestly, even though it doesn’t say much. Kevin Williamson did it again! This is impressive.

26 comments

  1. adam greenan says:

    Wow this sounds terrible! lmao

    Wouldn’t Jack the Ripper, who knows nothing of dna, fingerprints, cctv, etc get caught like a day after his first murder???

  2. Mike says:

    Absolutely not going to watch this series in 2016-17! I vowed since the cancellation of Forever that I would never watch a first season of a new ABC series. I might pick up an ABC series in their 2nd or likely 3rd series if it sounds interesting, binge watching to catch up.

    It just isn’t worth the time and commitment to a new ABC series after what they did to Forever. As it is, my viewing time with ABC is plummeting, and being in my 50s, I have a lot of viewing time left and money to be enticed by advertisers. I hope you’re happy, ABC!

  3. Tony says:

    Not appealing to me.
    This looks and sounds like a train wreck between Dawson’s Creek and H. G Wells. (without Russian chocolate).

  4. Valerie Friedman says:

    I wouldn’t consider watching a show that centers around violence against women week after week. Not smart, not interesting. Nothing like Forever, NOTHING. You lost me at Jack the Ripper.

  5. einat162 says:

    I’m cringing with what going on with ABC in recent years…last year they cancel Forever (replacing it with shows that got pulled off after 2-3 episodes), and now Stana and “Castle” issue … ABC is a dead horse in a world of social media. Traditional TV is already fighting a world of “cord cutters”, but listening to social media buzz should be the first thing to do (Fox seem to be doing it best out of the old companies).

  6. Edward Benn says:

    ABC lately has been canceling shows that I liked. I just knew Forever was coming back. Wherever it goes, I’ll go with it. They should reair season one online at least to gauge interest that’s obviously there…..

  7. Barbara McCourtney says:

    I rarely ever watch t.v. When “Monk” came out, I was glued. It was so intelligent, the actors were amazing, and the characters were so well-developed that I felt like I knew them.

    When “Forever” finally came out, I thought, FINALLY! A show as good as, or better than “Monk”. I can’t believe it was cancelled. Still hoping it comes back.

  8. frustratedwithtv says:

    sure ABC is full of crap. Look at Blood and Oil, I had a huge fan base as well, and they went and cancelled it after one season.. In my opinion, I think they should give a show longer than one short season to see if its going to succeed or not. What we need are shows with more variety, away from the comedies and away from reality shows. ABC doesn’t have many good things to offer in comparison to what they used to offer. Most of their shows now are crap. Plus, with Forever, everything about it was unfair. Like running it against The Walking Dead. Because of that, the show was over before it got started.

    • Liz says:

      Forever was on Tuesday not Sunday. It didn’t air against The Walking Dead. I watched the first couple episodes and tuned out because the leads had little very little energy or chemistry. I also don’t like Ioan Groffudd as an actor. He was awful in those Fantastic 4 movies.

      • Lin says:

        Wow, you certainly do not know how to judge a great television show. The Forever leads had terrific energy and chemistry. Forever was one of the best shows that ever aired on ABC and they kept stupid, ridiculous “comedies” like Galavant instead. Another thing, Ian is a terrific actor and was excellent as Henry Morgan.

  9. ChangeTheTitleOrTakeItDown says:

    Hi. Can you please change the title of this article? Because every Foreverist here is gonna tell you it’s bullshit. We still want our show back and don’t feel like giving ABC our time. Thanks.
    -Oh and btw, ABC will just cancel it anyway.
    It’s been created by Warner, and we all know how much ABC loves that.
    -Bullshit

  10. Anna says:

    Amends? It’s more like a slap in the face from ABC. More insulting still is that this is a Warner Brothers show? WB still owns Forever. It had something good there but have given up on it. And this show being compared to Forever and suggesting that it will take Forever’s place in our hearts? What made Forever so wonderful were those specific characters. They are not something that a knock off can replace. I want Dr. Henry Morgan. Period. Ioan Gruffudd and Judd Hirsh. So wonderful together. My absolute farovites. I want Jo and Lucas and Hanson and Abigail. I want to watch their struggles and delights. As a fan of Forever, I’m not looking for a cheaper imitation. So I would suggest finding a different way of advertising this show because trying to sell it as a Forever replacement will end in failure.

  11. So' says:

    Sure ABC, sure ! Order another pilot to try to fill the void but news flash, IT WON’T WORK.
    So go ahead take another show to die after two airing.
    Don’t say we didn’t warn, didn’t beg. We’ve been telling you to take Forever back over the past year, you’re doing your bullshit, keep going, you will fail until you understand you have to give that show another chance.

  12. Michelle says:

    It can’t make amends. It doesn’t have the specific elements I loved about Forever. My heart still aches over losing that show.

  13. Martha says:

    Are kidding me? Do they think we are that stupid to watch it? Really how insulting. Forever was outstanding and class act show. Bring back quality TV bring Forever with all the original cast.

  14. Varun "THE VS" Shukla says:

    Forever always… They know and still they are not bringing forever back… You know what is knowing and not doing…. STUPIDITY… Yes … You all are stupid not giving the taste of the viewers and rather just imitating the best… It will still be called an imitation… Thats not me… But all the foreverists calling screaming to your face and still you guys are not hearing it…

  15. Here’s an idea, ABC. Crawl back on your hands and knees to Warner Bros and get back the damn show. Forever had an all-star cast and a premise that wasn’t all scandalous and sexed up like every other creation by Shonda Rhimes and her wannabes. It was classier at approaching the ‘dance’ between two co-stars than Castle and Moonlighting, more heartwarming and better at pulling at the heartstrings than Grey’s Anatomy, better at mystery while less aggravating than Lost, and more amusing and certainly more deserving than The Muppets that sorta took its spot.

    If you can’t make good on getting it back, I won’t invest in any other show you decide to air on your network ever again, regardless of whoever produces it.

    Yes, that’s how furious us Forever fans are.

  16. Kelly says:

    This is based on the movie of the same name from the 1970s with Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenburgen, only that took place in San Fransisco. But I don’t think I will watch it, because ABC broke my heart by canceling Forever. I only hope that someday Forever will be picked up somehow. #SaveForever

    • Jeff says:

      Actually it is the retelling of H.G. Well’s 1895 science fiction novel “The Time Machine” that has been adapted three times for the movies and twice for television. Over the years it has been the inspiration for a number of films and shows. Not close to the premise of “Forever.”

      • Valerie Friedman says:

        Yeah, not even close to the fascinating plot lines and intelligent acting of Forever….and add to the insult the promise of guts and gore and violence against women. My favorite. Really. Like I want to watch that happen week after week….

  17. Cindy says:

    Not gonna watch it. Forever forever. I liked watching grown ups do stuff. Not interested in kids playing time travel games. ABC has disappointed too many times across too many decades for me to get sucked in by anther show. I avoid ABC like the plague now, and I doubt they will win me back. Good luck to anyone watching being satisfied with their choices.

  18. einat162 says:

    I’ll take Ioan Gruffudd over this Freddie Stroma guy.
    ABC made a few shows, and they flopped hard (Wicked City and another show were pulled after two or three episodes), now they are trying to copy Forever.
    Most surprising is why Warner Bros (who owns Forever) not shopping it around. Its not like they are shining bright in TV and movies right about now….
    I’ll take Forever over any TV these days, over any imitation.
    #SaveForever #ShopForever

    • Ariaelita says:

      I agree totally. Forever was a wonderful show that I looked forward to every week. The only way to make it right is to bring it back with Ioan Gruffudd.

  19. Sonia says:

    Je suis totalement d’accord avec tout ce que vous avez écrit . A la fois sur le génie de kevin williamson et sur le mauvais choix d’acteur (Josh bowman).
    Hâte de voir ce que cette série va donner !

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