ABC's new series Time After Time might cause you some deja vu — though that's not totally inappropriate for a show all about traveling through different time periods. See, Time After Time is one of a dozen or so time-related series out right now, although this one is a little different because it's based on a 1979 film and book. Of course, in order to better fit the modern TV landscape, ABC's Time After Time is different from the book and movie it's based on. The original idea for the story came from Karl Alexander, who released his novel of the same name in 1979. The film was released in the same year, based on the in-progress book, and starred Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenburgen in the two lead roles.
Both the book and the movie versions of Time After Time are about a young H.G. Wells, who is imagined as not just a science fiction writer, but an actual experimental scientist who's cracked the secret to time travel in the nineteenth century. He also happens to be friends with a man named Dr. Stevenson, who is introduced in the book's prologue as the real person behind the serial killer alias Jack the Ripper.
When the police appear at Wells' door on the evening he planned to reveal his time machine looking for Stevenson, the killer escapes by time traveling from 1893 London to 1970s San Francisco. Thrilled at how modern technology has made it even easier for him to stalk and kill women, Stevenson/the Ripper starts hunting more victims. Wells follows Stevenson to modern day and begins falling in love with a banker while attempting to stop the Ripper from raising his body count any further.
While that general framework is the same in the new television show, the TV version of the story takes place in 2017, rather than the late 1970s. This does change a few major things — first of all, there's even more for the eighteenth century lads to adapt to, from totally different gender roles, to the increasing ability to track people down using modern technology.
There are also some other, smaller changes, like the switch from Wells' love interest being a bank teller named Amy to a museum curator named Jane, who knows plenty about Wells and the era he came from.
In the original book and film, Wells is disappointed by the modern era because he expected it to be utopian, and, according to Time After Time creator Kevin Williamson's TCA presentation, Wells will still be disappointed in the modern era. But, strangely enough, apparently the other person disappointed in how things turned out is Jack the Ripper. I don't know if I agree with Williamson's assertion that "there’s one of [Jack the Ripper] on every corner" now, but it sounds like it's possible that after a season or two, Jack the Ripper will wind up becoming... a good guy of some kind.
The stakes have also been increased, fitting for a series that has to continue its story indefinitely. According to Williamson, there will be all sorts of time travel trickery that will prevent Wells from using his machine to solve the problem.
And there's one more significant change that fans may want to know about. According to his statements at Comic-Con (as seen in the video above), and more TCA comments from Williamson, H.G. Wells' other works will feature in the show and in fact, will take over from the plot of Time After Time.
"What we're doing is basically telling the story of a young H.G. Wells, and while using the first episode as a launching point as we get into the other books of H.G. Wells — The Invisible Man, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and ultimately the War of the Worlds, and so forth," he said. "We sort of show the inspiration for all those books that he's going to go back and write." Williamson also warned the audience, "I wouldn't look for a literal translation. I would watch the show and look for little Easter eggs."
A few superficial tweaks, the modern setting, much more Wells, and less time travel seem to make up a majority of the changes that should help distinguish ABC's Time After Time from both the glut of other time travel series and its own source material.