Friday 27 May 2011


Movie and TV Mistress is back.

This review as you can tell by the title is about the very short lived TV series from the BBC called Crime Traveller, it was a detective show which used time travel to solve the cases. The show ran for 1 series in 1997, which was 8 episodes long; due to a new Head of Drama at the BBC the show was not renewed as expected by the cast and crew.

The show focus's on Jeff Slade a CID Detective and the science officer Holly Turner, who work together to solve crimes with Holly's Time Machine. They work under Kate Grisham, with officers Morris and Nicky who'll I discuss later.

Holly's father built a Time Machine in the living room of his flat, think TARDIS Console room with out the bigger on the inside joke. Her father became lost in Time when he did not get back to the machine in time. She has continued to work on the machine and his research in her spear time, while working for the police. She is played By Chloe Annett who famously plays Kristine Kochanski in Red Dwarf.

Holly has worked out several rules of Time Travel, which she continuously explains though out the series, they are:
  1. You cannot travel back more then once as you cannot exist in more then two time frames.
  2. You cannot change anything in the past, as anything you do when time travelling has already happened.
  3. You cannot meet yourself it would create a paradox.
  4. You cannot travel to the future, it's not possible to travel to something that hasn't happened.
  5. You must get back to the machine before you originally left or you will be stuck in a loop of Infinity.
  6. Holly cannot control the length of time the machine will take you back.
The creator Anthony Horowitz does a good job of sticking to these rules but does bend a couple of them as the series progresses, which makes me wonder about what the future could have held in a second series.

Jeff Slade or SLADE! As he is constantly called/shouted, is the best cop in the team played by Michael French who was best known as David Wicks in Eastenders at the time but now as Nick Jordan in Holby City. He is manipulative and very smart, but won't give up on changing the past.

Kate Grisham is in charge, but I get the impression her character is like the stereotypical chief's who are their to just shout at the hero's. She was played by Sue Johnston, she was in Brookside but is most famous for playing Barbara in The Royle Family.

Nicky is fresh out of the academy, posh, very smart, a 1997 walking wikipedia played by Richard Dempsey who I knew growing up as Peter in the BBC kids series The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe. His character reminds me of Timothy McGee from NCIS but with out a computer or decent mobile phone.

Lastly the CID team has Morris, he is slow and well comes off as being unable to read or do anything, that said he does work out that at times there are two Slade’s running about. He was played by Paul Trussell who has had bit parts in lots of TV shows and a few British films such as Secrets & Lies.

I remember watching the series when it originally aired in 1997, it felt like this might be the show to finally fill the gap left after the BBC cancelled Doctor Who, but with the bad reception of the Doctor Who Movie the previous year I didn't know what to expect. The series quickly established the characters and how the Time machine would fit into the classic detective show in the first episode and I was hooked every Saturday night. Incidentally in the sixth episode there is an appearance of the Doctor Who Police Box, which was a lovely homage.

It is obvious from the opening music and the style of the show that it is a classic British detective series, the theme sounds like that of Poirot, which creator Anthony Horowitz wrote for and the plots are classics which aren't hard to work out it you have watched any detective shows in your life. That said I feel that it was the characters of Holly and Slade that kept me coming back and I wanted to see if Slade would ever be able to change the past.

Each show would usually start showing the murder/crime and then CID would turn up and try to solve it without any real forensic work done; that’s the one thing that I noticed re-watching the series, with shows like CSI and NCIS and even shows of the time like The Bill, you would expect them to finger print places. Finger prints are mentioned once when Holly's print is found on the glass that her aunt drank from, and by Slade in the first episode when he says to wipe their prints from the room. But what about the rest of their prints left at crime scenes before they arrived and Slade’s own blood left, if the show was set today I think they might be arrested as possible serial killers, just a thought.

Sadly the show does looked dated and it's not the clothes or the hair styles, it's the computers in the station the fact they use huge walkie talkies on sting operations which really stand out and that the one time we see a Mobile phone its bright yellow and has a large aerial, at least it wasn't a brick. I do have to admit that it does seem pointless to get annoyed about these minor issues in a show where they use time travel to solve cases.

I admit I have a soft spot for this show as I am a Time Travel fan, but the time travel doesn't change what the series really was, which was a classic detective series in mould of shows like Poirot, Murder She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder and many others. The series is a cult classic now, which I feel belongs with shows like Manimal, Automan, The 1975 Invisible Man and other short lived Sci Fi Detective shows, why do these shows end so quickly while we still have CSI: Miami?

Well till next time...

1 comment:

  1. Loved this show. Always hoped for a second series. Such a shame we never got one.