There is one thing I can say about Journeyman, the new fall show on NBC about a man who travels back in the past without his control. The show is certainly revisiting the past. In fact, you might say you’ve seen this show before…when it was called Quantum Leap
I checked out the pilot tonight, and my impressions are below. Once again, avoid reading if you want to watch the show when it airs on broadcast TV and don’t want to have something spoiled for you.
Dan is a reporter who has a nice house, a loving wife, and a great son. Everything seems to be going his way until he’s suddenly thrust into the past. These episodes of living in the past take random amounts of time out of the present, which certainly upsets the people in his life (boss, wife, brother, etc.)
The production value is high, and the actors do a reasonable job. They are sometimes given stilted dialog and it’s hard to tell if the lines are bad or also badly delivered – the beginning of the show is especially difficult to watch in spots as the actors seem unsure of themselves.
But the overall the formula is exactly the same as the Scott Bakula classic. Dan has to solve some problem in the past and once that is done, he can return. The only real difference is that he travels back and forth between the past and present and that complicates things, but otherwise I guess the series creator figured if it worked back in the early 90’s, it can work again.
The first storyline makes little sense. Super spoilers here.
Dan goes back in the past and ends up saving the life of a guy, Neil, who is trying to kill himself by standing in front of a trolley. Neil says he was going to kill himself because of a girl. Dan goes back to the present, but then returns, and ends up in a cafe with Neil and his girlfriend and ends up convincing her not to abort her child – the implication that in the previous timeline this abortion is what caused Neil to kill himself. Dan returns to the present and finds out that Neil’s wife and kid end up murdered, so then he ends up back in the past again, only this time 10 years later. Dan intends to warn Neil and the wife, but finds them estranged and the wife and kid heading to LA. Dan ends up breaking up Neil’s attempt to kill them by distracting Neil such that he gets hit by a bus. Neil’s son ends up a doctor who then saves the lives of a handful of children after bus accident.
If this makes sense to you, then you should watch future episodes Journeyman. I however can’t make heads or tails of it. I see the irony in getting Neil killed by a bus rather than a trolley, and I see how Dan disrupted the timeline enough to allow Neil’s son to live. But seriously, how convoluted can this get? Should Dan honestly feel good about this? I’m all for real stories that are messy, but this one is just bizarre. Unless others tell me it gets a lot better, I’m going to watch something else.