This is an intriguing new show and I think it’s really going to divide the audience based on your love and tolerance for cheese.
So our main characters: H.G. Wells, author, inventor, socialist, pacifist full of hope that humanity which will inevitably achiever utopia with technology allowing our natural goodness and joy. He’s adorkable. Really really adorakable. I want to smush him
And we have Dr. John Stevenson, serial killer, Jack the Ripper, killing poor prostitutes. He’s also a good friend of H.G. Wells but finds H.G. naïve especially in his hope for humanity
He’s also kind of hot.
He arrives at H.G.’s house just as he’s ready to show off his new Time Machine, to taunt H.G. for being so timid and not already playing in his time machine.
John’s need to use it is rather urgent since the police have just found his bag full of bloody murder tools – and a time machine is an excellent escape route. H.G. quickly realises that his good friend is an evil murderer and decides to use the time machine to follow so he can politely request John come home and be properly hanged
Did I mention he’s adorkable?
H.G. arrives in a museum, in his Time machine to be all confused and in awe of the modern world – and be promptly picked up by security and interviewed by Jane Walker, assistant Curator who would rather get this whole thing away so she can get on with the exhibit and the last thing she needs is some kind of cosplaying Victorian getting in the way. She shuffles him off successfully as he is focused on trying to find John before he kills people and convince him to return to the past
Along the way he managed to be clueless and patronising about both Women and Black people, but given that he’s a Victorian, a level of cluelessness is understandable. And normally I’m more than a little leery of historical figures coming to the modern age and being completely free of the prejudices of their time (because that’s just a blatant erasure of the bigotry of the past – or a way to try and make your old timey guy super special and not like them. It’s like all those vampire shows/books set in the American South with lots of old timey Confederate vampires who TOTALLY THOUGHT SLAVERY WAS WRONG GUYS). In this case I WOULD be more inclined to run with it because H.G. Wells is depicted as such a completely zonked peace-and-love-hippy that it almost fits. He’s the Victorian equivalent of someone who thinks we can hug all our problems away with a judicious application of crystals – his opinions are very far outside the norm.
To emphasise this we get a moment that is both sad and hilarious. H.G. looking at a bank of televisions showing the news. Remember this is the man who thought we’d achieve utopia in 5 generations. He sees a future of war, terrorism and Donald Trump. A single tear falls down his cheek (really a mild response to Trump) in utter tragedy at how far humanity has failed to reach his expectations
Did I mention he was adorkable?
But the flip side of this is harsh reality because H.G. Wells is not a fictional character. He was a Eugenicist and did speak of the “inferiority” of other races and Jews in his early work. Of course in his later work he was also passionately pro-human rights, against sterilisation and spoke against racism even at a time when it was far from mainstream to do so. Still, it’s clearly more complex than simply “progressive-uber-fluffy” guy depicted here. Especially since this is a YOUNG H.G. wells who was far more into the bigotry than a mellower First World War era Wells who became more progressive
Back to the plot - this is when John catches up to him. John has adapted rather ridiculously to the modern world. And it is wrong, even if he is more charming than any man has a right to be. He has used his immense charm to sell a watch, buy some weapons and get a room in a hotel. Yes, I do call shenanigans that he could possibly adapt to the modern world this quickly.
He’s also updated his look to a more 21st century look…. Well Hellloooo there killer.
Yes, I’m a shallow, terrible person. Dear Casting Director, please do not cast smoking hot guys as serial killers; it’s not fair on my moral conscience.
Unsurprisingly, John isn’t willing to go back home and be hanged no matter how much H.G. earnestly asks him to. What he wants is H.G.’s key which makes his time machine work so H.G. can run around murdering people in the past and present.
They have an altercation and H.G. ends up hit by a car and taken to hospital leaving John in his wake. With no ID he’s visited in the hospital by Jane (who has been pressured to find John and H.G. by her boss who we will get to) since he has her business card in his pocket.
She takes him home after he admits to being an actor and tries to leave the hospital despite barely being able to move (and not paying his bill?). This is another dubious moment that she would decide to take this complete stranger home – and another moment, like the single tear – which deals with it by being utterly self-aware and Cheesey. In this case Jane perfectly analyses and communicates all her relationship issues on why she’s doing this, even acknowledging how ridiculous it is as she and H.G. bond in adorable fluffiness. Of course we have love interests here even as the adorkable guy fails with modern technology, adorkably
He also gets his own 21st century make over with some shirtlessness and… ohhh not just adorkable. The modern world looks good at him. He cleans up nice.
Not as good as on John – damn it casting director. It’s unfair on my moral compass to make your serial killers this hot AND dress them in a towel. No fair at all.
Jane does go to bed with a gun when having a strange man stay over, so she’s not super naïve. And it depresses poor H.G. to see more weapons around. Awww, his poor adorkable face.
The next day the adorkable has to pause as they see the news of one of John’s clear murders. H.G. is clearly disturbed and in his rambling reveals that he really does think he’s H.G. Wells. This rather disturbs Jane but she agrees to go with him on a brief trip in his time Machine to step forward 3 days in the future. Jane is duly stunned (and realises how confused a Victorian man must be in this time) but all the confusion and joy of the moment hits the brick wall of a newspaper – naming Jane as John’s third victim.
They address that by intercepting John as he tries to kill his second victim, saving her and forcing the Adorkable H.G. into a moral quandary about shooting John or not. He can’t do it and John escapes, only to kidnap Jane later
Gah, I knew she was going to be a damsel, I just wish she weren’t. On the plus side while she is a Damsel, while under his control she doesn’t some excellent work trying to rescue herself and another woman he’s kidnapped and does an excellent job of getting under his skin: pointing out that while H.G. Wells is famous and remembered; Jack the Ripper is anonymous, unknown. Because he achieved nothing, created nothing, left nothing. It clearly bothers him a lot.
H.G. gets some other help – Jane’s boss, Vanessa. Who knows all about him and his time travelling; she claims to be a descendent of his and to have met him in the past (her past, his future, aaaah time travel). She is super powerful, super rich, married to a clueless guy who is running for senator. She wants to help and when he tries to say no she has big men kidnap him. Helpful. But she has a letter from past/future him to convince him to accept her help. That and the fact he has absolutely no idea how to operate in the modern world.
He also throws in some theory as to why he can’t use time travel to fix everything because Time Travel is a real pain for storylines
They try a prisoner/key exchange to save Jane which goes terribly wrong and H.G. has a massive tantrum and storms off
He ends up back at the Time Machine where John brings Jane, there’s another confrontation and after he damages the machine and with the helpful intervention of a sacrificial security guard, John escapes, Jane escapes and H.G. still has the key.
He and Jane move in with Vanessa.
Some other storylines: There’s a man following H.G. Wells for some reason.
Vanessa confirms that he is actually H.G.’s descendent (she’s head of a biotech organisation so DNA tests). They still have to hunt down John
But John actually spared one of his kidnapped victims. And later went to a bar and discussed whether someone can change – are we looking at a Jack the Ripper redemption change?
Ok I love it and I don’t care
I know that the speed Jack adapts and the ease with which H.G. fins his crush/sidekick is ridiculously fast. I know it’s cheesey and corny (H.G. with that single tear watching TV, tragic and corny) but it’s FUN. It’s unabashedly self aware and pokes at that constantly (like Jane perfectly psychoanalysing itself)
And I’m not just saying that because I would happily trade someone’s kidneys for either of the main actors
Speaking of, beyond them both being super adorkable cute/sinfully burningly sexy, they’re both really good. H.G. is really pulling off the cute lost idealist puppy. While Jack is oozing charm and sensuality.
I have a feeling this is a show Renee and I might go to war over.