The Amazing Adventures Of The Sofa Spudniks

Published: Wednesday September 10, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Saturday September 13, 2014 MYT 12:28:05 PM

Enjoying time travel, TV style

To infinity: Ann Marie always dreamt of flying an Eagle like Captain Alan Carter of Space 1999 someday.

To infinity: Ann Marie always dreamt of flying an Eagle like Captain Alan Carter of Space 1999 someday.

Past, present or future? What floats your … er, TV?

For as far back as I can remember, I have always been fascinated with the idea of time travel – and how amazing it would be to travel back and forth along the space-time continuum and change stuff or even just observe.

Television afforded me the small luxury of what it might be like to do just that. Whether it was Space: 1999 (which was my favourite TV show at age nine), Logan’s Run (starring a really young Gregory Harrison and Heather Menzies) or How The West Was Won, TV opened my mind and gave me a glimpse of what the past was like and what the future could hold. And it was fascinating.

What are some of the elements that attract me to this journey through time through TV? If I were to break it down, it would read something like this.

Plot: With a show like Da Vinci’s Demons, the writers take licence to fictionalise as they choose. There are some hits and misses, but it is always intriguing to see what they come up with.

With Da Vinci, for example, there is more fiction than fact, but the writers have spun a suitably engaging drama with lots of interesting characters. I must admit that when I think of early America, I use all the television series as a guide – Centennial, Roots, The Awakening Land, not realising that much of what I could have seen was pure fiction.

With some shows like Land Of The Giants (made in 1968, which I can remember watching ... honest!), it is sometimes funny to watch again, because it was made as a “future” series set in 1983, and tells the tale of the people onboard a transport spaceship that somehow gets sent to another planet. I reckon with series set in the future, there’s so much more that can surprise you.

Even post-apocalyptic series such as The Walking Dead make use of this to the hilt. Having said that, however, the past still has a lot of stories to be relished – take the relatively new series Masters Of Sex for example. Starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, this show is based on Thomas Maier’s biography about William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the duo who pioneered research into the nature of human sexual response and the treatment of sexual disorders and dysfunctions from the 1950s up till now. Very informative and exciting. It is clear that interesting stories from mankind’s history abound.

Wardrobe: I think series set in the past such as Downton Abbey, Da Vinci’s Demons, Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men take the cake when it comes to costumes. So much detail and colour seem to fill up the screen, as compared with how future garb is often portrayed on TV – clean lines, drab and almost sterile colours and a minimalist feel about it. I did like the Battlestar Galactica officers’ outfits, nonetheless.

Setting: When it comes to settings, I think both past and future leave room for creativity and imagination. Even in space (where a lot of the future series are set) some of the spacecraft, planets and places have been really cool – and things just get better and better as time goes by. While I was totally fascinated with the spacecraft in Space: 1999 (in my very vivid dreams, I was Alan Carter and I commanded an Eagle) and Lost In Space way back in the 1970s, my interest was suitably whetted again when Firefly and Battlestar Galactica came along in the 2000s.

Throw a parallel universe into the mix and you open up all kinds of philosophical ideas, which Fringe did nicely. Series set in the past may have a historical edge to them, which lends itself to lavish or descriptive settings, but I think because there is so much that’s unknown about the future, there is more for the imagination to play with.

Language: I love how they speak in Da Vinci’s Demons; there’s a really nice flair to how they use the language (calling the geniuses maestro and artista, for example). But I also liked how in Firefly, set in the future, languages such as English and Chinese dialects and script have survived. Something to think about if you’re into linguistics.

Gadgets: Robots, flying vehicles, bionic prosthetics, high-tech artillery, oh the future is so bright one has to wear shades.

So, in the final analysis, which do I prefer? I started out wanting to say the future ... but now I’m not so sure. Thankfully with TV, I can fast-forward or rewind according to my whims and fancies. To infinity and beyond! — AMC 

... And beyond: Indra wanted to Quantum Leap into Sam Beckett’s shoes.

Time travel? Yeah I used to wish I could be like quantum physicist Dr Sam Beckett of TV series Quantum Leap (1989-1993). After a time travel experiment, Sam (played by the oh-so-cute Scott Bakula) finds himself lost in time – each episode, he would find himself in the body of another person from the past who was about to make a big mistake or go through a horrific experience.

Sam’s duty was to fix mistakes that happened, to make changes for a better outcome, with the help of his holographic pal Al (Dean Stockwell), who was from the future and usually filled Sam in on whose body he was in and the situation he had to put right. Once he’d corrected the mistakes, he could get out ... to another random time and situation.

Sam occasionally leapt into the bodies of some famous people or people close to them – he was Marilyn Monroe’s bodyguard, Buddy Holly’s friend (apparently Sam came up with some of the lyrics to the famous number Peggy Sue!) and Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who assassinated President John F. Kennedy. According to the fictional storyline, Jackie Kennedy was also a target of the gunman and Sam saved her.

He even leapt into the body of a woman (who was facing all kinds of sexism in the corporate world) – it was hilarious to see Sam in dresses and high-heeled shoes trying to hold himself back from beating up the sexist men who bothered her/him. I loved the concept of the show and have wished many times that I could travel into my past to change a few things.

Now that I have substantially deviated from the topic – past, present or future: which do I prefer – I’d say that my penchant for nostalgia makes it pretty clear that I love period shows quite a bit. And by period, I do include shows like The Goldbergs, set in the not too distant past – the 1980s, and That 70s Show which, if you can get your hands on the DVD box sets, is still really hilarious!

Why? It’s kind of fun to be reminded of the highlights (both good and bad) of the past and, in a way, learn from them.

I’ve been re-watching episodes of That 70s Show and apart from being really laugh-out-loud funny, it’s a reminder of what we did for fun before the age of technology – we’d hang out with friends (who were not glued to their devices) and, well, just hang around. There was silliness, some romantic adventures and a whole lot of fun.

Ah, the life of a teenager with no responsibilities!

While I liked the plot of Quantum Leap, I love the fashion of Mad Men, which is set in the 1960s. Boy, have I had a voyeuristic look into the era through the characters on the show. The men and women were so stylish all the time.

I love their fashion sense (apparently even top designers like Donatella Versace and Michael Kors pay close attention to the show for its fashion and perhaps plot, too) but am not so sure about the almost hedonistic ways of these advertising men in New York City back in the day – smoking, drinking and sleeping (not alone) their way through life, treating women as their possessions.

It has been quite a ride but I am thankful that it’s only an hour-long ride once a week, and that I can return to my rather undramatic life afterwards. — SI

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment, TV, Sofa Spudniks, Television, Time Travel

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