Saturday, April 11, 2009

Time Travel Is Not Good For My Wife's Brain

If any of you aren't watching this little show called Terminator, you're seriously missing out. Hulu has the most recent episodes, but if you're really behind, I suggest you go rent the first season. Or buy it. You won't regret it.

Anyway, last night was the season finale (Let's hope it's not the series finale). I won't get too spoilerific here, but there was a bit of time travel at the end. My wife absolutely hates it when they do that. Add to that the episode of Dollhouse that was on after it, which was not in chronological order, and she was lost. It quickly reminded me why she never watched Journeyman with me. At first I was confused, because she liked Quantum Leap (Isn't Hulu awesome?!), and Journeyman was similar, but she said it gave her a headache.

Here I think is the difference between the old time travel stuff we've seen, like Quantum Leap and even the first Terminator movie, and the new crazy stuff like Journeyman and the new Terminator series. Quantum leap generally had standalone stories. For forty some minutes you were transported to a seemingly random place and time, and at the end of it, you left. The next time you came, it started all over. In the original Terminator movie, we followed Sarah Connor's timeline, which was affected quite a lot by two people who came into her life out of no where. In all honesty, when they were from didn't really matter to her at the time. You could easily enjoy the movie without trying to understand the time travel aspects of it.

Before I get to Journeyman and the new Terminator series, I should mention Terminator 2, as well as Back to the Future. Both of these movies (and I know there are a lot more, but these are my examples) had two timelines each. They both had a time that wasn't quite so pleasant, then the hero went back in time and changed it. Somewhat more complicated, but still not too crazy.

Unless you want to count the paradox that is the end of Terminator 2 (this is the part where my wife's head explodes). The Terminator was destroyed so that Skynet wouldn't be created. But if Skynet wasn't created, then the Terminator wouldn't even be built, let alone sent back in time to stop Skynet. Which would mean that Skynet would be created, and he would be sent back. Yeah, spin-dee-go-whirly with the gray matter. There are two ways to deal with this problem. First, you can say that the universe explodes. Hate when that happens. Second, you can say that the timeline splits, creating a multiverse. You then have alternate realities. For Terminator 2, we had 2. If you count the entire Back to the Future trilogy, there were a few more than that, but not much.

Okay, now we get to my point. Finally. There was at least one different reality for each episode of Journeyman. Every time he went back in the past, he changed his present. He even came back once to find out that he no longer had a son, but a daughter. For Terminator, someone over at io9 did some work and found 10 different timelines, and I'm sure after last night's episode they're going to have to modify that list. I find every one of them fascinating. My wife, on the other hand, would rather not read that article.

So, all of this ridiculously long post brings me to two questions. First, is this the reason that they aren't advertising the time travel aspects of the new Star Trek movie? The movie doesn't even make sense to me without them, and Trekkies (or whatever they call us today) are already familiar with the idea, but are they trying to make sure my wife is still willing to watch the movie? Second, how is this so different from any mystery movie that gives you clues in a seemingly random order?

All right guys, I know I have at least three readers for my blog. :-) Tell me what you think.

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