Sunday, December 11, 2016

Voyagers! (1982-83)

Starts: Jon-Erik Hexum, Meeno Peluce
20 episodes

In Short: Time's repairmen.

I've never found time travel to be a particularly interesting topic. That's not a value judgment but merely an opinion. I'm also not a fan of Dr. Who but I gather that it's one of the first TV shows were time travel played a somewhat integral role. Following that there was The Time Tunnel (1966–67), one of Irwin Allen's big four of Sixties SF TV shows - the others were Lost In Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Land of the Giants. It's a show that has a certain cheesy charm, like most of Allen's shows. But it would be stretching the truth quite a bit to say that it was any good.

A decade and a half later came Voyagers! (love that enthusiasm), who voyage through time, traveling to problem spots and making things right again. Don't bother analyzing this aspect of the show because it doesn't seem to have been very carefully or logically thought out. The unlikely duo here is comprised of Jon-Erik Hexum as Phineas Bogg (get it?), a dashing sort of fellow who seems often to become entangled with a member of the opposite sex, regardless of which time period he finds himself in. Meeno Peluce, as Jeffrey Jones, is the younger member of the duo and the brains of the outfit. He's quite well schooled on all matters historical - perhaps a bit too much - and is presumably on hand to attract the demographic that also found some appeal in the likes of Menudo, Scott Baio, and Ralph Macchio.

Turns out that Bogg is one of a number of Voyagers doing the time repair thing. Early on in the series he comes across the recently orphaned Jones and the two pair up for a season's worth of time travel antics. What it boils down to is that the pair consult their Omni, a handheld gizmo that flashes green when things are going well with the time flow and red when there's a problem. It's not clear (at least it wasn't to me) how the actual time travel component works but visually we see out to heroes sort of flying, more or less Superman style, through a star field until they arrive at their destination. In the episode I watched, they fell from the sky into a chicken coop and another time on to an awning. I suspect similar gimmicks were used each time they landed in a new time period but I can't say so for sure.

Of Note:
Over the course of the series Bogg and Jones meet many of the big names of history, from Buffalo Bill and the Wright brothers to Spartacus and the baby Moses. Surprisingly, Hitler is nowhere to be seen. Stars of note included Ed Begley Jr. (Wilbur Wright) and Jonathan Frakes (Charles Lindbergh). Beverly Hills 90210 star Shannen Doherty has a small role in an episode, as does Luke Perry, who appears in an uncredited role. His role in this show apparently made an impact on Peluce, who later became a high school history teacher for a time. For a show that only aired for 20 episodes more than three decades ago, Voyagers! seems to still have an avid fan base. Here's a good fan site.

Observed: (1/19)
"Barriers of Sound" was the next to the last of the 20 episodes of the series. As it opens, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the future general and American president, is being born and it's not going well. Our heroes drop in (to a chicken coop - haw!) and wonder why the Eisenhowers can't just pick up a phone and call a doctor. Apparently, this thread of time has no telephones and so it's back in time a bit to Boston in the time of Alexander Graham Bell. He's a teacher at a deaf school and is not actively working on the telephone at the time. Bogg and Jones need to fix this and for some reason they also need to get him hooked up with one of his former students. Complications arise when the rakish Bogg takes a fancy to her.

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