The setting is a doctor’s office. The time is 11:00 am. It’s Oct. 4, 1958 and seated in the room are Dr. Gillespie, Psychoanalyst, and a Mr. Peter Jenson. Jenson reluctantly begins to speak about a recurring nightmare, in which he is transported to Honolulu, Hawaii the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
This scene sets the stage for Rod Serling’s “Time Element,” the pilot for a science fiction anthology show. Though it never aired, it paved the way for what ultimately became “The Twilight Zone.” TZ was a landmark show for its intelligent exploration of adult themes, including a new concept (at the time), time travel.
Since TZ’s introduction into the annals of television history, time travel is a concept we have seen portrayed over and over again on television and the big screen alike. Today, we give you 8 must-see movies/tv series (in no particular order) that deal with a “time element” in way or another.
If time travel is the core of good science fiction, then Star Trek is the ultimate example. Both in the original series and in later spin-offs, it is the time-travel episodes that are among the most popular, including this one from 1967 called “The City on the Edge of Forever.”
Who can forget Dr. Sam Beckett and his not so trusty holographic sidekick, Al. Every week, viewers tuned in to see Beckett “leap” to different time periods. Though the “leaping” was the result of a flawed science experiment, Al was always there to provide Sam with the appropriate guidance to ensure Sam could leap onward. The element of taking on a different identity every week took a purely time-travel story to a whole new level.
Nothing epitomizes the 80’s quite like Back to the Future. But its darker sequel, which used footage from the first movie as a major plot device in the second, was an innovative storytelling approach.
And speaking of sequels…Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was the first big screen adventure from the franchise to incorporate time-travel into the storyline.
Disney studios acquired the rights to a failed independent project halfway through production. Flight of the Navigator became one of Disney’s more “adult” films. This story revolves around 12-year-old David Freeman who unknowingly winds up 8 years in the future. After getting a scare from his younger brother, a fall renders him unconscious and….well…you’ll just have to watch it!
Shows like Forever Young (1992) and Frequency do not focus on time-travel per se, but they do portray an interesting time element involving a frozen man and a ham radio respectively.
And finally…we can’t stop without mentioning the 2009 flick The Time Traveler’s Wife. Eric Bana plays Henry, a man with a rare genetic disease that causes him to sporadically travel through time, but only within the confines of his lifespan. As is common with so many time travel films, here once again we see a time-travel plot centering on a love story.