Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Continuing Journeyman: 4

One of the key threads in NBC's Journeyman - perhaps the key thread - is how many of the people around Dan in 2007 know what he is doing.

The show started with no one. In Episode 2, Dan's wife Katie had to accept that his stories about his absences were more than psychotic illusions when he disappeared from a plane in which both were passengers. Last week in Episode 3, Dan's boss Hugh may have begun to get a clue, when Dan came up with a nickname for Hugh that he hadn't heard in years.

And tonight, in Episode 4, Dan's brother Jack (winningly played by Reed Diamond), is in a men's room with Dan, when Dan goes missing. The window is closed, Dan didn't fall in, so ...

Part of the set-up of the show is that no one sees Dan vanish - he disappears when cohorts step out of the room, or turn their backs - which results in his wife and brother taking longer to realize that Dan is really disappearing.

But now the menage-a-quatre of Dan, Livia, Kate, and Jack is finally beginning to crystalize into awareness of what Dan is doing, and Livia has apparently been doing for a while. I predict that before the season is over, all four will be players in time, working together and at cross-purposes in some kind of plot that is central to the series. (I'd like to say that I traveled a little forward in time, and saw the end of this season, but ... you wouldn't believe me, would you....)

In the meantime, the missions that Dan is sucked into each week are ok, but I find the impact on Dan's life in 2007, and his relationship with Livia, far more interesting. The plot construct of Dan missing in 2007 for the amount of time he is in the past can't help but have interesting, provocative consequences for the 2007 action.

Most time travel stories don't go this route, and instead have the time traveler returning exactly to the time - and place - from which he or she left. That's what I did in my Loose Ends short story series, and in The Plot to Save Socrates. Of course, in those and like stories, the traveler initiates the travel, and can to some extent specify arrival times. This is unlike Dan, who gets yanked into the past with no warning, other than a headache.

One other touch I very much enjoyed in tonight's show. Dan contacts a scientist in 2007 who is an expert in tachyons - hypothetical faster-than-light particles which could play a role in building a time-travel machine, were such a device possible. Dan speaks to the scientist in 2007 ... and the scientist unexpectedly calls Dan back ... in the past, in 1998 ....

Such touches are the spice of time travel tales - and this one is likely the beginning of an important new thread - bring 'em on!

More details on "Loose Ends" and The Plot to Save Socrates

Reviews of other Journeyman episodes: 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 5 ... 6 ... 7 ... 8 ... 9. Dan Unravels His Present ... 10. Jack's In! ... 11. Livia's Beau//Save the Newspaper, Save the World ... 12. The Perfect Time Travel Story ... Lucky 13

8-minute podcast analysis of Journeyman

The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book
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