As we count down to the release of my new time travel novel, Déjà Voodoo, let’s talk about something I left out of my book A Brief History of Time Travel.
I love talking about time travel. The questions it creates are just so interesting, and it is man’s imagination that makes that so. Stuff like The Butterfly Effect, paradox, changing history, and creating alternate realities. All time travel stories are alternate realities, simply because it is impossible in our own reality. Will this always be so? Who can say for sure? It’s not bloody likely, because no one’s ever done it, and if they had, wouldn’t they have come back to a time we’ve lived to tell us about it? But never say never.
My book A Brief History of Time Travel is a rundown of most of the time travel stories ever written, but even my extensive research couldn’t get them all. One I missed in my travels was a rather innocuous little TV show called “Seven Days”. The show, albeit short-lived, spanned two millenniums, and ran from 1998 into 2001 on the UPN network. The show starred Jonathan LaPaglia as the time traveler, Don Franklin as his backup, and Justina Vail was the sexy Russian techie and main love interest. Sam Whipple, Alan Scarfe, and Norman Lloyd also starred, with Nick Searcy as the disgruntled security chief and buffoon extraordinaire.
While it started out rather well, it quickly evolved into a caricature of itself, opting for silly rather than serious – and like most all time travel stories, it had plot holes. Plot holes in time travel stories are inevitable, because time travel is impossible in the first place – but these were bigger than most. The premise was that through developing found alien technology they built a device that could go back in time seven days to get a do-over after some terrible disaster, and prevent it from happening – known as “Project Backstep”. The biggest plot hole is that when Frank B. Parker went back seven days, the self he was before his time jump was never there—where did he go? It follows that if you were there yesterday at 7:15 PM, and went back in time today at 4 PM, you should still be there at 7:15 yesterday. Some things in time travel stories are implied, but since there are no rules for time travel, it is wrong to do this—the writer makes the rules, but then must follow them. You have to explain why Frank Parker is no longer there in the past that he has traveled to at a future time. You can assume that when he travels back, it erases him from the timeline, but this creates even bigger problems. Certainly, if he disappears every time, it would follow that he’s not always alone when this happens, thus freaking people out. This show was not well thought out, at best.
The show had many other problems, one of them being that Frank quite often imposed his own will on a situation, and made decisions that the bosses would never have agreed to, thus abusing his power. His integrity was always in question by Nate Ramsey (Nick Searcy) the security chief—and with good reason, as Frank pretty much did as he pleased, and damn the rules. But he was a man of integrity in the big picture, and did everything in his power to make things right.
All in all, the show was entertaining most of the time. I doubt it will ever become a time travel classic – but never say never…