The Time Traveler’s Wife put up a respectable $18 million over the weekend, which is not enough for a sequel (although, don’t rule it out), but it was enough to inspire a TV show. There’s going to serialize the romance, probably add some episodic adventures, and attempt to make us forget that pretty much the same thing was done two years ago. It was called “Journeyman,” and it was cancelled. Just like “The Time Traveler’s Wife” will likely be.
The show, which has actually been brewing for quite some time, will come from Warner Brothers and Marta Kauffman, the writer/producer behind “Friends” and “Joey.”
And though the television series will be starting from scratch, the reality is, they could’ve just picked up where the movie left off. Here’s your Spoiler alert, but I’m going to give away the ending to the movie for those that read it, but didn’t want to be bothered with the movie: In my review, I wrote that Schwentke’s miserable excuse for a film chose the weak middle-ground between the gut-wrenching, stomach punching wistfully achy ending in the book and a studio approved Hollywood ending. He didn’t lose his foot, but he was relegated to a wheelchair. And he did die, just as he did in the book. But the book’s last scene isn’t there. Instead, Henry returns a few years later (a version of his earlier, still alive self) and there’s a big happy Hollywood meadow running scene between he and Clare. But the real crime is the implication: Clare still leaves clothes out for him, and as Clare and Alba walk away after Henry has disappeared again, they essentially suggest that it was one of probably many visits that Henry will make over the course of their life. The ending, which completely neutered the emotional punch of the novel, in a way does also leave open the possibility of a sequel. Or a starting point for the television series.
But honestly: I’m not completely averse to a television series. I’m averse to Marta Kauffman’s involvement, when someone like Edward Zwick (“My So-Called Life,” “Once and Again,” “thirtysomething”) would be far more appropriate. You could wring a lot of episodes out of the book, and there is plenty of room for additional story lines.
But there’s just one problem: In the novel, Henry was powerless to alter the events of the past. He was only ever put in a position to witness the events, not change them. That would seem to hamstring a television series, except that of course it won’t. They’ll just gloss over that — somehow, Henry will probably be able to travel back and forth in time to change the events in other people’s lives, but he’ll never be able to alter the course of his own. Like “Quantum Leap,” I suppose.