Shows about time travel have enchanted people for over half a century with fare like Doctor Who, Quantum Leap, Outlander, and Timeless.
HBO combines time travel, science-fiction, and romance with its adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s 2003 best-selling novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife. It premieres on Sunday, May 15th at 9/8c and will also stream on HBO Max.
I had the chance to view the series ahead of its launch. The HBO version allows Niffenegger’s material to breathe better throughout six episodes, which works for the most part.
The novel and its romantic story about marriage and time travel have captured audiences for almost 20 years. In 2009, a film adaptation starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams.
The Time Traveler’s Wife follows Henry DeTamble (Theo James), who suffers from a genetic anomaly that makes him travel to different points in time.
Part of what makes Henry’s story interesting is that he can’t control when these time-travel spells occur or where he’ll travel next.
He often interacts with himself in different timelines, and James portrays Henry marvelously when there are two or more Henrys in one scene.
The series is titled The Time Traveler’s Wife since Claire Abshire (Rose Leslie) grows up, knowing and longing for the day she will marry Henry. He has been time traveling and visiting her since she was six years old.
It plays upon the theme of destiny, fate, and doomed relationships since Claire is fated to be an essential part of Henry’s life, but Henry can’t always be present since he’s always traveling at a moment’s notice.
I was a massive fan of Niffenegger’s novel and the 2009 film and was looking forward to this TV adaptation and the expanded storylines. Executive producer Steven Moffat (Doctor Who) tells the story through a non-linear timeline.
This works most of the time, but the series spends too much time establishing the rules of time travel so there isn’t enough time to fully develop Henry and Claire’s adult relationship in The Time Traveler’s Wife Season 1.
Henry has a list of an elaborate set of rules, such as he can’t alter the past and the future is already set and no one can change it, though some people challenge it.
He also can’t take anything with him, including clothes, so he arrives in each timeline naked and has to steal clothes quickly without drawing attention to himself.
While this is tricky in his adult life, this aspect is more concerning when 31-year-old Henry meets six-year-old Claire (Everleigh McDonnell) in a meadow for the first time.
Young Claire often thinks of Henry as her imaginary friend and a welcome respite since her family ignores her, but current culture misreads Henry’s kind gestures towards her as “grooming” Claire.
Henry is the only adult that spends time with her alone in their special space in the meadow, and Claire thinks she’s in love with him from the time she is a preteen.
He has a unique relationship with Claire as she matures, but he maintains appropriate boundaries, even though she is his wife in future timelines.
All of the actresses that portray Claire exhibit a loveliness and freshness while also voicing frustration that Henry can’t open up about himself.
As lovely as Rose Leslie is, she looked nearly the same while playing a 16-year-old to a woman in her early 30s.
Emmy-winning Game of Thrones director David Nutter does a better job changing the age of Henry (Theo James) throughout the timelines with make-up and prosthetics. Having the ages written in the corner also helps to know how old Henry is at any given time.
James portrays the various Henrys well, especially if he is supposed to act emotional and serious in one scene and comedic in the next.
He and Leslie interact well onscreen and seem like they have known each other for years.
The Time Traveler’s wife pays homage to Niffenegger’s material and lets Claire and Henry’s relationship develop fully from their first meeting to adulthood. We even get an entire episode dedicated to Claire’s perspective.
Fans of the novel will truly enjoy The Time Traveler’s Wife, and there is plenty here for those new to the story, as well.
The Time Traveler’s Wife premieres Sunday, May 15th at 9/8c, and the series will release episodes weekly. They will also be available to stream on HBO Max.
Will you be watching HBO’s adaptation of The Time Traveler’s Wife?
Check out the trailer below:
Laura Nowak is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.