HERE COMES PETER COTTONTAIL (1971) was one of the Rankin-Bass holiday specials that populated the TV of my youth. Here, the feckless but good-hearted Peter (Casey Kasem) loses the right to become Easter Bunny to the villainous Irontail (Vincent Price), who institutes changes including painting Easter eggs the color of mud and replacing chocolate bunnies with chocolate tarantulas (personally I’d love a chocolate tarantula but hey). Can eccentric inventor Sassafras’ (Danny Kaye) time machine turn things around for Peter? Adequate whimsy, though I wonder if generations younger than me even know what Easter bonnets are—and Irontail is very much a disability cliché (hates children because a kid ran over his tail and forced him to wear a prosthetic). Still, that’s a heck of a voice cast; all rights to image with current holder. “People believe what their hearts tell their eyes/So when you can’t get it together, improvise!”
RUDOLPH’S SHINY NEW YEAR (1975) opens right after the ending of Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer (Rankin Bass’s best-known special) as Father Time (Red Skelton) recruits Rudolph to find the missing Baby New Year by New Year’s Eve (like young Rudolph, an outcast because of his features—in this case big ears).or else Dec. 31 will begin time-looping—forever! The quest takes Rudolph to the islands where past years such as 1776 and 1 million BC now live, preserved in time, so in an odd way I think it qualifies for my book. A lesser effort, as witness they use the Rudolph song to fill out space near the end. “Make every moment count/Rejoice with every dawn/The moving finger writes/And having writ—moves on!”
CAPTAIN Z-RO (1956) was a forgettable series in which the title super-scientist (Roy Steffens) and his sidekick Jet would tune in the past with their time-viewer (in other episodes they focused on space flight), then intervene whenever history is going off the rails, for example stopping a plot to kill William of Normandy before he ever conquers England. A textbook example of why 1950s TV SF is mostly forgotten. “Bring up the therma-gate and stand by to activate the cycle reactor!”
The second season of LIFE ON MARS follows in the same vein as the first, but culminates with a rather radical solution to Sam being torn between two eras (I’m not surprised the US version went a different route). Great fun with Lanister and Simms as the lead but I think they stack the deck in the last episode by completely forgetting about Sam’s girlfriend in the present.
CONTINUUM‘s final season (2015) also fudges a lot by pretending (even more than Season Three) that Kiera has always been trying to avert the dystopian future she comes from, rather than being a believer in the authoritarian, corporate-dominated system she once served. This does a good job wrapping things up in six issues as we learn the newest wave of time-travelers comes from a future where the conniving Kellogg is now the big boss, but things have collapsed to the point people are heading back “to win this war before it begins.” Despite the fudge, a satisfactory finish; the biggest loss seems to be the Traveler’s mission, which gets kind of deus ex machina. “I have a little experience with paradox—I lost my grandmother to one in 2012.”
ODYSSEY 5 (2002) only ran for one season and alas, didn’t get to wrap up. The premise is that four crew members and one reporter on the Odyssey space shuttle witness Earth destroyed while they’re in space. A mysterious being gives them the chance to go back five years (mentally, not physically) and undo whatever happened, so of course, they say yes … This first and only season was good as the team battles against the Sentients (disembodied minds living in cyberspace) and their physical agents, the Synthetics, but I’m not even sure if they’re actually the big villain in this (the ending reveals Martians are involved as well). I particularly liked that one of the cast, whose 22 on the initial mission, has real trouble fitting into his original pot-smoking, girl-boinking, garage band-playing teenage self—the idea that reliving your life isn’t necessarily a gift is one I wouldn’t mind seeing more of. “What would you do without the concept of sarcasm?”
And one that isn’t time travel—I finally finished DAREDEVIL‘s first season, a good, gritty street drama inevitably influenced by the Frank Miller run on Horn-head in the comics. Can Matt Murdock save Hell’s Kitchen from the mysterious crime kingpin? Can he keep his identity secret from best friend Foggy and secretary Karen? Can the Kingpin hold his own ranks in order? The biggest asset is Vincent D’Onofrio’s incredible performance as Wilson Fisk—even when his character elements are stock, D’Onofrio makes them work. “The horns are a bit much.”