Missing the Mark with Time Travel: Voyagers! (TV Showcase #34)

For some reason, I have an undying interest in time travel, which I’ve mentioned before, and in my search for old TV shows, I stumbled on this one, which was about time travel. Elated, I added it to my list of shows to watch in the future, and when I found it, I watched the whole thing. The only problem was that this show was one of the earlier prototypes of juvenile time travel stories with plots that were less than entertaining, which is more common in juvenile books nowadays. Be that  as it may, the show did try to do something that I’ll give it a thumbs up for. So, let’s take a look at the vast world of “Voyagers!”. No, I didn’t put that exclamation point in there; it’s part of the title.

“Voyagers!” was created in 1982 and ran for twenty hour-long episodes. ending in 1983. The show begins when Phineas Bogg (yeah, I know), a time traveler who never read his time machine manual, accidentally winds up taking 1980s boy Jeffrey Jones on different journies throughout time. The reason for this is that Bogg’s time machine, a large pocket watch called an Omni, is broken, and it will only take Bogg and Jeffrey to damaged points in time and to the time they had just visited before. Bogg had never studied his history in Voyager school like he was supposed to, but Jeffrey, a history buff himself, knew every time something was wrong with history, and the two would have to fix it.

Now, “Voyagers!” was kind of a collection of unoriginal components that were supposed to make something new when all lumped together, but they were just a pile of unoriginal components. Audiences had seen a broken time machine before in “Doctor Who” (which was still airing in 1982, by the way), they’d seen time travelers basically living through history first hand in “The Time Tunnel”, and the whole “damaged time” idea, that is, history that’s not the way it’s read about in the history books and needing to be fixed, has been done numerous times afterward, though I struggle to remember a time before. Like mentioned before, “Voyagers!” is alot like modern juvenile novels, like The Infinity Ring or maybe The Missing series.

The aspect I want to applaud “Voyagers!” for is going to two points in time every single episode, not just staying in one. Some of the classic “Doctor Who” and “The Time Tunnel” episodes were really slow with how much time the characters spent merely living out history. “Voyagers!”, however, would leave their main problem in the middle of an episode, and by some fluke, they’d be transported to another time, where they’d solve a smaller problem, and then go back to their main problem. That was a great way to break up the hour, especially for the target audience age, but it just wasn’t enough to keep me engaged.

Somehow or other, “Voyagers!” wasn’t cancelled due to popularity. It aired opposite “60 Minutes”, which had been bossing the news scene until some controversy arose, and NBC, on which “Voyagers!” aired, thought they might have a chance to steal “60 Minutes”‘s audience with their own news program, but in order to do that they had to cancel “Voyagers!”. Don’t say the Showcase never taught you anything.

“Voyagers!” had alot of potential, and it was starting to get better, but all in all, it was a little slow on the uptake, and it didn’t use its time travel aspect very well. What do you think?

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