Time After Time Recap

ABC's Time After Time: Do You Plan to Watch Week After Week?

You can’t change the channel these days without stumbling upon a time-travel show. The newest one to join the craze: ABC’s cat-and-mouse thriller Time After Time, an adaptation of the 1979 movie of the same name, which itself was based on Karl Alexander’s novel.

Like many a Kevin Williamson-produced drama, Sunday’s two-hour series premiere opens with a murder. This one takes place in 1893 and is the handiwork of the dashing and psychopathic Dr. John Stevenson aka Jack the Ripper (played by Revenge‘s Josh Bowman). Using a time machine created by his friend H.G. Wells (UnREAL‘s Freddie Stroma) — who will go on to write the iconic novels The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and The Island of Dr. Moreau — John is transported to modern-day New York City, where his kind of violence is par for the course. While John is delighted, Wells — who travels to the present to bring his killer pal home — is disheartened to discover the future utopia he envisioned is actually a dark world.

Time After Time RecapWhen Wells arrived in the time machine, smack in the middle of a museum exhibit about, well, himself, he immediately finds an ally (and a love interest) in Jane (Entourage‘s Genesis Rodriguez), a sweet assistant curator who not only befriends the crazy stranger claiming to be H.G. Wells, but also invites him into her apartment. (Girl, you’re the one who’s crazy.) He convinces her of his identity by taking her three days into the future, and with that, Jane is fully on board.

As for John, he’s adapting really well to modern times and preying on unsuspecting women at nightclubs. After the doc kills again, Wells confronts him, but can’t go through with pulling the trigger. John wants a key which will let him use the machine to travel anywhere in time, so he kidnaps Jane to force Wells to hand it over.

Time After Time RecapWells gets another shock when he meets Vanessa (Soul Food‘s Nicole Ari Parker), his great, great granddaughter and a wealthy CEO of a biotech company started by her parents. She reveals that Wells visited her in college and told her of their familial connection. She went on to track down and restore the time machine. When one of her security guards, rightfully, wonders why going back in time and stopping the Ripper that way isn’t an option, Wells explains that traveling to the same period of time too much could cause a hole in time itself.

Meanwhile, John has taken a second female captive to keep Jane in line, threatening to kill the other woman when Jane attempts an escape. Jane’s next tactic involves playing head games with John by Googling Jack the Ripper. His initial delight at being famous quickly turns to anger when he realizes he never got the credit for the Ripper’s anonymous killings.

Time After Time RecapWells eventually tracks John and Jane to the time machine in the museum, where he trades the key for Jane’s safe return. John attempts to travel, but Wells pulls out the machine’s wiring, trapping him. It appears like the good guys finally have the upper hand when a guard tasers John, but then he dramatically comes to and stabs the man before fleeing once again.

As they settle in at Vanessa’s palatial home, Wells apologizes to Jane for getting her involved in this dangerous adventure. She reassures him that she moved to the city to have a big life (but not one that involves almost getting murdered, I assume?). John has a self-reflective moment, too, as he sits at a bar, wondering if he can change, as Jane suggested. If so, it’s not happening anytime soon, seeing as how he leaves with a pretty woman(/victim?).

Finally, the sketchy guy whom Wells thought was following him on the street earlier in the premiere? He’s got a whole wall full of surveillance photos of Wells and John….

What did you think of Time After Time? Grade it via the poll below, then hit the comments to back up your pick!

 

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65 Comments
  1. Ryan says:

    I know this would ruin the series but couldn’t Wells take the time machine into the past and take out John before he goes to the future? I have this show a C. I am not sure the story can sustain more than a few episodes.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      That was specifically addressed early in the second hour, and in Vlada’s recap above.

    • mary says:

      If you’ve ever seen a time travel show/movie you should know that answer. !. that means no more show :) 2. hole, hole, hole in the time continuum. 3. paradox(of seeing oneself).

  2. btm says:

    I thought this pilot was really charming, and the two leads have crazy good chemistry. Bowman makes for a great villain too. I will keep watching.

    • jr. says:

      I thought the original movie, did a much better job in telling this story, in just about the same amount of time as this two hour pilot. Don’t see how they can drag the story through a full season, let alone any future seasons, without just becoming Timeless.

    • Amanda says:

      I agree. The chemistry between Wells and Jack and Wells and Jane are both great. Makes it a pleasant and amusing watch.

  3. padraicjacob says:

    My biggest gripe about the show is that Jane comes off a little dense and gee golly, especially for coming from Texas. Stereotypically they are a little tougher. Not sure if it’s just her acting or the writing for the character.

  4. JBC says:

    Enjoyed the pilot. I will watch this again, The characters are likeable enough and story interesting.

  5. jrex says:

    Missed the first hour so maybe it was addressed or will be in the future, but seems like Jack would likely run into at least some modern women more kick-ass self defensive and less damsel in distress.

  6. laurelnev says:

    Smack dab on the fence with this one. Did not see the movie. Love good time travel shows. Have missed Daniel, and like hearing an accent closer to his own (or maybe even his own) natural one. But I’m not sure this is going to be sustainable in any way that’s not too “Timeless.” If it’s just going to be John manipulating HG through threats every week, well that will get old fast. And I have a feeling baseball cap dude is likewise a relative–maybe John’s though, rather than HG’s. And how come I have the feeling that Vanessa will be the result of some time travel tryst, especially since she said she’d tried to trace the lineage and came up empty. But 12 Monkeys started slowly, and quickly picked up to become the best of the genre. I can’t help but think the 2 hour premiere was because they knew the 2nd hour was slow. If by ep 4 or 5, it’s moving like the 2nd hour, I’m out. But if it’s closer to the first, I’m probably in, that is if it lasts.

    • Jake says:

      This is the exact problem with “Timeless”. I see a lot of posts of how good that show is, but the bad guy has had so many near-miss escapes Timeless has just become annoying.

      • Jake says:

        Oops, sorry meant to reply to Dave below.

      • laurelnev says:

        Not necessarily disagreeing with you on that. :) I enjoy the “history of the week” aspect of Timeless much more than that whole Rittenhouse thing.

        • ninergrl6 says:

          Me too. And I like Timeless better than Time After Time so far.

          • laurelnev says:

            The Characters are more likeable, and Flynn being the bad guy is much greyer, considering Lucy’s own diary is serving as his guidebook.

        • Stacy says:

          I agree! I’m hoping they adjust the Rittenhouse angle a bit next season; I much prefer the “history of the week” aspect.

  7. Steve C. says:

    This is my opinion but does anyone else think Jane could be Vanessa’s great, great grandmother? I mean this is a time traveling show, so it could happen.

  8. Sam says:

    There was a little too much stupid in the show for me to continue watching. Unfortunately the fact that he keeps escaping is absurd and dumb. Is he a superhero? He keeps getting up fine after being down from being both taser and hit in the head. Sigh, I was excited too.

    • Tos Al says:

      Yeah! They have officially used up the i think he’s down no wait he’s up again plot device. Also you know where he’s going and what he’s going to do, how do you not sabotage the machine to trap him in there until you get help. You made a TIME MACHINE, you can’t set a trap.

      • Sam says:

        Agreed, this along with the fact that Jane didn’t hit him again when she was escaping (as Dave mentions below) drove me batty. I was literally yelling at the screen, hit him again. Ah well, thank God we live in America and there are hundreds of other shows to watch. Ha

  9. Dave says:

    Time travel, even with so many entries into what seems to have become its own genre, is a fascinating premise and quite entertaining and thought provoking when done well. Unfortunately, the writing for this show is to this point rather pedestrian. Chasing Jack the Ripper (yes, yet another Jack the Ripper story) in the future is uninspired. The story has some maddeningly illogical points, especially in the way the villain continues to escape. For example, Jane, who earlier makes it a point to emphasize she’s a gun toting Texan, knocks the guy out, but she does not call anyone, restrain him, or hit him again, even when he begins to come to. Also, the two guys in Central Park, apparently professionals, are somehow unable to be sufficiently prepared and unable to restrain who they know to be a violent murderer even though they have the element of surprise (and an advanced handgun). Even a stun gun couldn’t keep Jack down. However, the characters are likeable, and make up for much of the banal writing. The show does have some potential, and maybe the show will find its legs in time with some smarter writing and avoid dwelling too much on the obvious the boy meets girl, good guy/bad guy cliches.

    • Ted says:

      Don’t forget the laws of TV staples:

      Girls always need a big strong man to protect them.

      Trained police/security people are always knocked over/disarmed by some untrained 2-bit criminal

      The richest people in the world always have endless time to engage in micromanaging, they never have empires to run

      Anybody with a job can come and go from it as they please unless it’s needed for them to be stuck working as a plot device

    • Carla Krae says:

      Jane grabbed his phone first, so it was locked. I did want her to hit him again. But panicking, scared people don’t do that, unless they’re the type to beat on the other until they’re unrecognizable.

  10. Red Snapper says:

    I wasn’t that excited for this show but I liked it a bit more than I thought I would. The double episode premiere set the stage for what could be an interesting and fun mystery through time but I’m not sure if it will hold my interest. I agree with the others who mentioned John’s uncanny ability to constantly escape, it got unrealistic and old fast. I liked Vanessa and hope she’s not hiding any ulterior motives but I think her boyfriend might be. Maybe he’s connected to the guy following H.G and John? Jane’s character needs to be a little more fleshed out. I’m not sure what it is but something isn’t quite clicking with her. I love time travel shows but this isn’t my favorite one. I’ll keep watching since I like the genre but so far it seems like a show I’ll get around to watching a few days later.

  11. tallsy says:

    I thought the leads were very good, but the plot and writing got really mired in the second hour.

  12. DRush76 says:

    Jack the Ripper seems to like going after none-white women in modern day Manhattan? Does this mean that he equates non-white women to prostitutes of all color?

    • Ann says:

      Haha. Good catch, but I think it has to do with more emphasis on minority casting and that just happens to mean minorities will be the securities guards and Ripper’s “prostitutes” since the main cast has gone to non-ethnic people.

  13. Ted says:

    I am not really too concerned with the inevitable “if you go forward in time and learn about the future then bounce back and change it so it doesn’t happen then how did you manage to go to that future in the first place” paradoxes in time travel stories. The Time Machine in any time travel story is always a McGuffin, and as long as it’s not abused the story has a fighting chance. I think the creators handled it very well in this story – it was used twice then they broke it – and my guess is it’s going to take Wells the rest of the series to get around to fixing it, which is just fine.

    I’m much more concerned with two gigantic glaring plot holes in the story. First is when Jane bashes John over the head and knocks him out then runs off. Why doesn’t she give him a second knock on the head to make sure he sleeps better or picks up the roll of duct tape and makes sure he’s bound. Instead she wastes valuable time dragging him out of the way of the door. Really, really stupid.

    Second is how quickly HG adapts to NYC. Sorry but this is a huge culture shock and both he and John would be making gaffe after gaffe. John would be doing the same thing. Neither would adapt in a few days to act like NYC natives.

    Kudos to the props department on the machine itself! Great example of steampunk! There is a little bit of problem with the electrical power in the machine since motors are powered by magnetism and you don’t get a very strong magnet from 50,000-100000 volts of power (which is what we are seeing with all the crackling lightning-like electricity running along the wires since that would be the minimum voltage needed to break down the dielectric of air and get visible sparks) and a few milliamps of current, but at least they avoided the old SciFi standby of infesting the control panel with little blinky lights (since the light bulb hadn’t been invented yet)

  14. JeffO says:

    I liked it a lot. I like the cast especially the actor playing HG Wells and I always liked Josh Bowman. I’m glad he got a new gig after Revenge

  15. Randy says:

    Boring and too much like Timeless but going back in time (Timeless) to change history more interesting than coming from the past to chase a killer. Give it a Fail. Won’t target show for additional viewing.

  16. cathy says:

    sounds just like the 1979 movie of the same name with Malcolm McDowell and David Warner

    • writergal says:

      That’s because the TV show is based on the movie. They even used some of the same dialogue.

      Alas, though, the show has none of the charm and danger of the original. Wells is not too bad, but Jack isn’t the darkly suave homicidal maniac that David Warner played him as in the original. And how can they possibly sustain this in a weekly series?

      Nitpick: Jane mentions the morning after HG sleeps over that ‘the museum is closed today’ so she has the day off. He then takes her three days into the future, to March 7, 2017. That would make her ‘day off’ Saturday – and no museum is EVER closed on a Saturday! That’s the busiest day of the week. Argh.

  17. partisan says:

    This was an OK movie in 1979 but as a series I really can’t see how they sustain it. The inevitable “they ALMOST caught him but he gets away” gets really tiresome really fast. Another unanswered question is how a man from the 19th century manages to so easily cope with the 21st. I don’t care how brilliant he’s supposed to be, how does he get around cell phones, ATM’s, computers, biometric ID’s, etc. Also the timey-wimey tap dance to avoid the question of “why don’t we just” is always passed off as unimportant but when time travel is the centerpiece of your plot device you really should address it. For example if you know where he went and what he’s doing go back to your original time and send evidence to the now future telling them where and how to catch him. Too many shows love to use time travel then just shrug off the inevitable contradictions. Sometimes it works, like a certain doctor. More often than not…it doesn’t.

  18. ninergrl6 says:

    I liked it, largely due to the likability of the actors, but I’m not sure how they’ll maintain this as a series. During the second hour I thought to myself that 2 hours works, but 13? (or however many episodes were ordered) The fish-out-of-water & bad-guy-escapes constructs will get old fast.

  19. Deana C Jamroz says:

    I really like the chemistry between Wells and Jane — and between Wells and Stevenson. I did see the movie (which I LOVED), so unless the writing goes downhill rapidly (who can tell with broadcast TV?) I’ll watch.

  20. I enjoyed it… has the feel of Timeless, in a way. Not sure why everything has to be about murder… miss Quantum Leap in this genre, where it was about doing good. But, if this stick around and discussion the possibility of changing one’s ways, that could be interesting… a dive into the whys Ripper did what he did and how today’s society could help or hurt him more.

    • ninergrl6 says:

      Timeless reminds me a lot of Quantum Leap, only trying preserving history (in order to protect the present) instead of changing it.

  21. By the second half of the pilot, I could see that the narrative was taking a different turn from the 1979 movie. I’m curious to see how it will work out.

    • Annie Sisk says:

      I still kinda preferred the movie, TBH. The show is not bad – in a “Timeless” kinda way. By which I mean: Charming enough, and a pleasant way to waste an hour or so. Nothing to write home about.

  22. sunshine says:

    Love everyone and everything except the darkness of the central plot. Why a serial killer? I didn’t watch the last time travel one because they had the serial killer. I don’t want such horror in my living room when I’m just trying to relax and enjoy.

    • Annie says:

      It’s based on the movie of the same name, so hence the quite similar plot and setup. Though I actually preferred the film version. Not sure there’s enough here to sustain a series.

    • grys03 says:

      Agreed. The opening murder scene was setting the scene & even though seemed out of place in what was a light-hearted show, it was ok. But the scene where Jack went berserk & slashed wildly at the girl on the bed (but didn’t kill the girl ) was pretty disturbing – again in context of what was generally a light light/drama/comedy.
      .
      Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with violence/blood & guts etc in a show but it did seem incongrous.

      • ninergrl6 says:

        I thought the same thing, especially coming out of family-friendly Once Upon a Time right into a gruesome murder scene.

  23. Anupam Roy says:

    it is shown here that the scotland yard actually found out that john stevenson is the ripper even before the whole time travelling thing started.Whereas according to history the ripper was not identified…

  24. Erik sprowls says:

    What does the execs at ABC expect when your target audience is exactly the opposite of The Walking Dead, the same exact sci-fi audience? It’s a shame because the show is amazing and well thought out and a great Armash to Nicholas Myers time after time movie from 1979.

    Why not put it on after Gray’s anatomy? Let it get a real lead out show! It is clear that the women dominate the rating systems because they watch the bachelor, the bachelorette, scandal, how to get away with murder and crap like that. But when a genuine well-thought-out show comes along that this one guy likes to watch and it’s already planning on being canceled it’s fairly obvious who owns the Nielsen rating box.

    This is exactly why I don’t think network TV is worthwhile any longer and most people switch to Netflix or cable shows. Who’s the goofball that put a time slot for that opposite The Walking Dead? Why not put it in a timeslot directly across from timeless? That way everything can get real confused and no one will watch.

    I often wonder if the college degree and network executive has comes out of a candy coated shell.

  25. Josh is really frickin’ hot and actually a great actor to boot, but this show is a joke. The fact that the 2 out of time characters adapted so quickly to life/technology in 2017 was ridiculous. Jane was written as a horrible clueless victim and I have no idea how this show can sustain its premise on a weekly basis.

    Timeless had its faults (the convoluted Rittenhouse conspiracy) but at least it had a better premise that could sustain itself and the villain constantly escaping wasn’t nearly as laughable as it was here..

  26. Brian Hollon says:

    Please don’t cancel this excellent show as it is light years ahead of most every thing out there. I guess people would rather watch some stupid mindless sit com.It needs some tweaking but overall a quality show that makes you really have to pay attention and not just mail it in. I saw from the graph that it had pretty good reviews from the watchers so give it a chance.

  27. Brian Hollon says:

    Overall a really good show compared to most of the mindless other shows out there It needs a little tweaking but overall it is enjoyable to me. Give it some time and don’t stick another “Reality show or stupid sit com in its place. I hope it will get a fair chance and looking at the graph it seems more people than not liked it.

  28. grys03 says:

    Enjoyed the first outing but have reservations about a series that has limited focus. Jack the Ripper would be fine for 1 or 2 escapes into another time but as an ongoing series?
    .
    I can see that there was some story line building with the senator (Vanessa’s husband) & of course the tall ginger headed stalker. Was he from a time when Wells first met Vanessa?
    .
    A solid C, with sadly, a capacity to slide further.

  29. Dominique says:

    i enjoyed the pilot. i feel like it needs some ironing out but i’ll definitely tune in for the next episode. josh bowman is just delightful as jack the ripper, he seems to be having a great ton of fun playing this role.
    same for freddie stroma, he’s got that sweet, innocent, slightly naive thing down to a tee.
    not entirely sure yet about jane, i just don’t know what to make of her yet.
    i really like vanessa, it’s good to see nicole ari parker back on tv!
    my only complaint is that i’ve got a feeling they’ll be going down the love triangle road with wells/jane/john and i’m not interested in that at all.

  30. Ellie K. says:

    Why was Jane so careful when getting out of the apartment with the other kidnapped lady. She owns a gun and had no problem hitting him the first time, clearly she is a little badass. I would have slammed the door open into his head or hit him a few more times or maybe kicked him in the face. I know that all these things would end the conflict too fast in TV and movies but why do they always leave the bad guys able to hurt them more? I guess I answered my own question but please inflict a little more damage!

  31. Rutherine says:

    I liked it a lot. I just did not know it was premering. Maybe that is why the ratings were low. Had to watch it on the ABC app. I will watch again.

  32. Sharon says:

    Who is the actress that got stabbed in the opening scene of the pilot of time after time?

  33. Tanya says:

    Here is the problem. 1. Wells was too chicken to shoot the Ripper. 2. After Jane knocked him out, she didn’t FINISH the job and kill him, knowing full well who he was and just that he kidnapped and threatened to murder – self defense would have been easy. These are major flaws that make both Wells and Jane look like unlikable wussies. I can not STAND the flurry of wussie “good guys” that don’t just FINISH the job.

  34. BM says:

    I’m willing to give it a try simply because I want to know how they resolve the story. I have a hard time imagining that Ripper’s going to kill someone or several someones and Wells is trying to find him each episode. That would get kinda boring.

    I’m not sure if I missed it – but did they explain how Wells can be in the future and still have written books even though he left the past before he wrote them? And how can he have a family in the future if he didn’t have one back in the past? Why do the books and family still exist in the future Wells travelled to? It’s kind of like the future knows that he will be going back eventually.

  35. Tony says:

    Unfortunately, the whole thing felt rushed. There were MOMENTS, but they were just glossed over, but in favor of what, exactly? Honestly, in favor of nothing in particular, it seemed. My first impression of this show is that somebody got excited about “Time After Time” the tv series, and just ran with it, not giving a whole lot of thought to anything beyond the concept. John Stevenson is played well, very menacing. Wells appears to be a work in progress. The love interest is a huge weak spot, IMO. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about her. She just seems “meh.” She could be anybody. Not sure what was so captivating about her, in the casting office, especially when one considers how many other actresses must’ve read for that part. Finally, if this show is going to have legs, Kevin Williamson needs to allow there to be an innocent charm about it. This means allowing for sentimental moments, and not bashing the viewer over the head with PC craziness. The first sign of that crap, and I’m out, and so will be many other people who actually think America is a noble place, and who just want to be left alone, rather than being told what to think, how to raise their children, and how to conduct their own private business.

  36. MBP says:

    Just kill him or hit him again and tie him up!!! Stupid woman!

  37. Yoko says:

    One of my fav movies from the 70’s so yes I will watch it until they cancel it after one season. Because you know they will.

  38. Velvin Bixby says:

    The whole premise only works because everyone is too wimpy to kill Jack the Ripper. There are at least one to two opportunities to kill him in each episode. It reminds me of the cheesy 1960’s Batman series where the Joker or another villain tries some elaborate device to kill Batman, tying him to a conveyor belt or a rope and very slowly leading him towards rotating, circular saw or a vat of acid. Batman always managed to Hoodini a way out of there before his doom. In this show, someone could have easily done an ‘Indiana Jones’ and just shoot the damn target (or hit Jack the Ripper a little harder and repeatedly with the vase, as was the case in episode 2). It is also inappropriate to romanticise Jack the Ripper as a dangerous but appealing man as they do during the cat and mouse game between him and the amoral female scientist.