A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents should know that Time After Time is a drama about criminal Jack the Ripper and writer H.G. Wells, who both time-travel from Victorian London to modern-day New York. Since the show centers on a famous serial killer who targeted prostitutes, parents can expect many references to sex work, violence, and murder and an unsettling connection between sex and violence: At least one woman is killed during sex that the Ripper paid for, while other victims, it is implied, are happy to have sex with Jack before it turns into murder. These victims may wear skimpy or tight clothing and be flirtatious and overly friendly; parents may want to clarify to teens that this by no way means these victims "deserve" what they get. Complicating matters, Jack is good-looking and charming. Characters are killed suddenly on-screen; there's gunplay, slashing, stabbings, elaborate knives covered in blood; a murderer chokes a woman and talks happily about how much he enjoys killing. There's also infrequent cursing ("hell") and scenes that take place at bars, clubs, and parties with adults drinking.
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What's the story?
Based on the 1979 cult movie of the same name, TIME AFTER TIME picks up in London in 1893, when newspaperman H.G. Wells (Freddie Stroma) brings a group of his friends over to show them the time machine he's invented to research a new book. Most of the gentlemen scoff at Wells' invention -- but John Stevenson (Josh Bowman), a man with secrets of his own, gives the machine a try to escape being arrested. Now Stevenson, better known as Jack the Ripper, is loose in modern-day New York, determined to keep on killing. And it's up to H.G. to track him down and bring him back to justice in his own time.
Is it any good?
Fresh writing and plotting bring a new energy to what could have been a miserably clichéd (and misogynistic) period thriller about a famous murderer. The central conceit of the 1979 movie -- that Jack the Ripper is comfortably at home in our violent times -- has aged well. "In our time, I was a freak," says John to H.G. gloatingly. "Today, I'm an amateur. You can walk into a shop and purchase a rifle! They encourage it!" The show has clearly put some tantalizingly deep thought into what someone from another time would find astonishing: earbuds, selfie sticks, break dancing, and a first-aid kit all draw rapturous responses from H.G. and John.
In addition, Time After Time is knowingly ironic about its slasher origins. "Why prostitutes?" asks Jane (Genesis Rodriguez), the curator of a museum with a Wells exhibit who quickly gets caught up in the goings-on and is held captive by John. "Do you have something against women? Or just sex?" Yes, it's a drama about a murderer of young women, but a smart and unpredictable drama about a murderer and worth a look if the violent premise doesn't turn you off.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Time After Time and many other shows are about crime. What do people find interesting about crime and murder?
Families can talk about the concept of time travel. Do you think it could ever be possible? Do you think it would make the world better or worse?
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