This television series is an adaptation of the very enjoyable film from 1979. I don't think it is appropriate to judge a work by comparing it to another version, but I do think such a comparison can be useful in identifying ways it could be better.
The film starred Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenburgen. McDowell was very successful in conveying the Victorian manners that one would expect from H. G. Wells--the British author who wrote science fiction classics and championed science as the key to a Utopian society. He also was very convincing in his portrayal of a nineteenth century man confronting the technological advances of the late twentieth century. While Freddie Stroma brings a certain charm to the television role, he comes up short in these two areas.
Genesis Rodriguez plays the role of Jane Walker, the modern American woman whose life is disrupted by Wells. She fits the role fairly well. But her characterization (as well as Stroma's) is handcuffed by the script.
As is common these days, the pilot launches pall mall into the story with barely a moment of character development, hoping to hook viewers on the action. This shortchanges the story and the viewers' understanding of the characters. Also, the writing advances the plot so quickly that it fails to establish the authenticity of the characters' motivations or emotions. The viewer is asked to bounce form one action scene to the next without time to consider or feel.
The way that Wells--and the man he chases--so quickly adapt to the surroundings of 21st century New York City with barely a question strains credulity. Modern Americans are incredulous at Wells' invention, despite the fact that modern technology advances so quickly, but Wells supposedly accepts and understands the modern miracles around him like someone who had already read books from 2017.
Despite the fact that the sci-fi aspects of the story have been minimized, the romance and suspense aspects of the story may suffice to make this an interesting show. Hopefully, the script's pace will slow enough for the characters to become more than names or titles, allowing the audience to become more emotionally invested.
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