A fan of Audrey Niffinger’s beloved novel time traveler’s wifewhen they hear new adaptations appearing on their TV screens, they are likely to be enraged, they will be disgusted high pressureThe new series of the same name. People unfamiliar with the book…probably hate it too. Henri de Tambour is an old romance about an energetic librarian who suffers from a genetic disorder that sends him involuntarily traveling through time, often into dangerous situations, returning to him as well. Wife Claire Abhill’s own childhood.From Steven Moffatbest known for his running Doctor Who and as a creator Sherlockthe show makes one inexplicable decision after another, making it completely unwatchable.
from jumping, Theo James (sanditon) and Ross Leslie (game of Thrones) is an odd choice for Henry and Claire. They both inject a gritty, aggressive quality into their characters, subverting what should be a sweet love story.That’s in stark contrast to the poorly received 2009 film, which, no matter what you think of it, set the cast to be Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana, which fully reflects the dignified and nerdy character of the characters. And James and Leslie spend most of their time screaming at each other on screen.
Gone are the couples who loved poetry, opera, punk music, and chatted for hours over a game of chess. Instead, there are two people who have nothing in common and have no reason to be together other than fate (aka time travel) pushing them together. Their first date ends with Henry calling Claire crazy, and she, in turn, throws shoes at him and needs to convince each other to give each other another chance. They got more serious as the season went on and the bickering never stopped. Claire kept lamenting that this younger version of Henry was inferior to the older version she grew up with. But even in his scenes with a teenage Claire, played convincingly by 35-year-old Leslie, they’ve been at odds. There was hardly a moment when they just got along. Is this the couple we should support?
It wasn’t just Claire that Henry yelled at Claire – everyone. He was very mean to his childhood self because he taught young Henry about time travel and how to survive in it, as well as pickpocketing because whenever he traveled, he left his clothes and all his other possessions behind. Any chance for tenderness is replaced by dramatic conflict, made worse by James and Leslie’s overplaying.
While Moffat claims to be a big fan of the book, the show uses source material more for inspiration, and it would be nice if the new version made any sense. The series features an unusual framing setup of Henry and Claire making videos in which they talk about their lives for no apparent reason. The six-episode seasons (I’ve watched all six) hit most of the book’s main storylines, but each one twists them until they mean something completely different and all nuances are stripped away. A sensitive sexual assault arc in the book is fanned to the point of being almost offensive. Even the simple act of getting Claire’s flower becomes harsh and violent. A dinner party could subtly highlight a party with Claire’s friends Charles (Natasha Lopez) and Gomez (Desmin Borges), the scene being converted into High Camp is so bizarre that it causes me to yell “What?!” on my screen every minute. The stilted, on-the-nose text produced eye-popping lines like “Love is the thing that gives hope to mortals. It’s the cruelest thing I know.” Many draws from the book’s narrative lines and inserted as awkward dialogue, which doesn’t help.
Time travel rules have also changed. Not only was Henry displaced in time, parts of him also traveled around. A baby tooth appeared on the table, a pool of Henry’s blood temporarily appeared in the bathroom, and a few strands of hair cut after a haircut might appear suddenly. The purpose of the stunt was made clear by the end of the first episode, apparently to foreshadow a horrific fate, but was deemed ludicrously absurd.
There’s been an undeniable rhythm issue this season. This is thanks in large part to the drama that adds to the plot. It’s easier to understand that it focuses a lot of time on their childhood. So it’s surprising when the show misses a major element – it swaps out Claire’s mom’s bipolar anxiety for her parents (Jamie Ray Newman and Michael Parker) just having sex with Henry career to judge; Charles is hardly a character outside of an unusually bizarre scene – there are also small but important details like Henry being Jewish (I have a theory this is because James is in every sense of the word would not be considered Jewish). But the most confusing message is that this is not a limited series. One would think that six full episodes would be enough to adapt a 500-page book (compared to the 10 episodes of the first season) game of Thrones adapt its 900-1,000-page book to the last detail), but the show is only getting started in the middle of telling the book, and plans to run at least another season to finish its story.
Aside from the poor writing, acting, and plot choices, the show even looks Badly made. The wig that James wears for most of the series is terrible, as is the makeup he and Leslie wear in scenes playing older versions of themselves. Some clothing changes are also questionable. The grass, which is so important to their relationship, looks like a group—rocks and bushes look fake. It’s hard to think of an element of this show that isn’t bad. If time travel is real, they can use it to go back and do the right thing.
the time traveler’s wife, Series Premiere, Sunday, May 15 on HBO and HBO Max