Monday, February 27, 2017

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Time Machines

A time machine is a (fictional) device or vehicle that transports a traveler (or travelers) to the past or to the future.

Time machines have long been a key factor in science fiction television. 

Perhaps the most famous of all time travel devices is the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space), a vessel -- and life form? -- used by the Gallifreyan time lords in Doctor Who (1963-1989; 2005 - ).   

The TARDIS has been to the dawn of mankind on Earth ("The Unearthly Child") and visited other time periods, past and futuristic. It has been "driven" (if that's the term...) by at least 12 incarnations of the Time Lord known as The Doctor.

Time travel is also a factor in the Star Trek franchise. In the Original Series, Kirk (William Shatner) and his crew must restore Earth's proper time-line using an alien time machine or portal, called the Guardian, in the beloved episode "City on the Edge of Forever."  This portal re-appears in The Animated Series episode "Yesteryear."

Uniquely, the Enterprise herself may be considered a time machine. In episodes such as "The Naked Time," "Tomorrow is Yesterday" and "Assignment: Earth," the starship travels through time, either via a new engine intermix formula, or via a high speed maneuver around a star known as "the slingshot effect."

The same year that Star Trek premiered, 1966, Irwin Allen created a series called The Time Tunnel. The series saw two lost travelers in time moving through various historical eras. In this case, the machine itself was a vast tunnel ensconced in a huge, underground scientific and military complex.

The main time machine of Voyagers! (1982) was far more compact in construction: a hand-held watch device called an "Omni." In this case, the Omni was like a time compass, and had green and red indicator lights to suggest when the time line was accurate, and when it needed repairing by explorers called Voyagers.

In the short-lived Terra Nova (2011), survivors of a doomed future Earth use a gateway/time machine to travel a parallel Earth's "time stream," and the Cretaceous Time Period.

Time machines have also been featured on The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) in episodes such as "Back There."  "The Odyssey of Flight 33" sees a 1960s air-liner serving as an unwitting time machine device, traveling to the prehistoric age.

Time machines have also been featured in the Back to the Future animated series, and such series as Time Trax, and Timecop.

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