Review by Dan Skip Allen
Going back to The Time Machine in 1960, based on the H.G. Wells book, time travel has been a popular topic with writers and film and television creators. Time travel has always been fun to play around with. There have been a lot of different types of time travel projects, and they sometimes can be convoluted or contrived. They tend to have a lot of moving parts in them. The Time Traveler's Wife is based on the 2003 novel of the same name, already adapted to a film in 2009. It is a much more in-depth look at this genre than its predecessor.
The HBO series focuses mainly on two characters: Henry (Theo James, the Divergent trilogy) and Claire (Rose Leslie, Game of Thrones). They have many incarnations throughout the series. Sometimes there are multiple versions of Henry in a given scene. Throughout the series, we see the Claire character grow up from a six-year-old to an older woman. Henry has multiple versions that travel back and forth between the various age ranges of Claire. This series is just a fancy way to do a romantic show. It works better than the film in this way.
The series has a few things that keep it grounded and interesting. Each episode of the show has a different version of James and Leslie's characters, who narrate the show as talking heads like in a documentary. This is a very grounding aspect because the show can get confusing at times. When there are various versions of the James character on screen, things can get confusing. The dialogue can get a bit complicated as well. Having multiple characters speak to him at different periods in his life can be a bit much for the viewers watching at home. This show doesn't pull its punches dealing with all aspects of time travel or romance.
All the things you'd think would come up in a time travel show do come up in this show. The dos and don'ts of time travel are more extensive than you'd think. The show tackles all of these things with a very nice touch, even though some things aren't easy to discuss in the context of the show. Of course, having characters try to get benefits from James's character's ability is pretty common sense. Stock tips seem too obvious to give in these types of films and shows. Netflix might not be a great stock to invest in right now, though. They are dealing with their fair share of problems.
The Time Traveler's Wife is about James's wife, played by Leslie. It deals with her character from a six-year-old to an older woman. The time-traveling James is just a means to an end for the showrunners and writers. The show is more interested in how she deals with this man in her various lives. Leslie is a good actress and emotes nicely on the screen. Having James as her opposite brings out her talents as an actress. He could bring out any actress's talents, though. He is a good actor in his own right, with various traits that make him engaging and compelling as an actor. He's been in many things, but this might be the thing that allows him to stretch his abilities as an actor and gives him the most range.
HBO has had its fair share of great shows in the past. The Time Traveler's Wife isn't quite as good as some of their recent hits, but it has a lot to say about relationships and how people find love and keep that love over a long time. The showrunners and writers use the time travel aspects to do a great job of explaining who these people really are. Things fit together very well, considering all the various moving parts this show has. It's not trying to be anything great, but it's better than I thought it would be.
The Time Traveler's Wife debuts on HBO on May 15. All six episodes reviewed.