Sunday, December 02, 2018

Out of Time (1988)

There are a few TV shows and movies that aren‘t available on DVD or streaming.  In some cases, like Doctor Who, the tapes were wiped.  New episodes are made available as lost tapes are found, but many are still missing.  Other productions don’t have enough demand to be released on DVD.  It’s a shame because many of them were good enough to at least be worthy of streaming.

One made-for-TV movie that I remember watching was called Out of Time.  It was about a police officer from the future who chases a criminal back to what was then the present.  It was exactly what you’d expect of a failed pilot episode, but I remember liking it.  My only option, apparently, was to watch it streaming on Amazon.

The movie starts in the year 2088.  Channing Taylor is a Los Angeles police officer who doesn’t trust a computer to do a human’s job.  He’s after Richard Marcus, who is up to something.  Taylor comes to realize that Marcus might have a time machine.  It’s the only thing that makes sense.  Taylor figures out when and where the time machine will appear.  Marcus shows up just in time to get the machine, himself.  The two end up back in 1988, where Channing Taylor meets his great-grandfather, Max Taylor.

The movie wasn‘t quite as good as I remember it.  (I can see why it wasn’t picked up for a full series.)  Channing is your typical fish out of water.  Even in 2088, he’s a police officer mostly because Max Taylor was such a great police officer. (No mention is made if any other Taylors made the force.)  When Channing tries to navigate 1988 Los Angeles, he seems to know just enough to get what he wants.  He’s able to use future technology to win money in a scratch-off lottery, but has no idea what a tie is.  He also seems ambiguous on what a bank is, even though Marcus is going to rob one.

The movie is somewhat generic and cliché.  Part of this could be attributed to the fact that it was supposed to be a TV series.  The writers may not have wanted to use up all of their good stuff in one episode.  Other things, I can’t let off so easily.

For instance, Channing has to use his last bit of fuel to save Maxwell.  Since the fuel won’t be invented for a while, it’s used to strand Channing in the past.  Couldn’t the writers have found another way?  Maybe have enough to make one trip back, but have Channing decide to stick around.  He was suspended, so I could understand there being no rush to get back to 2088.

I’d say that it could make for a good TV show, but a similar concept was used for Time Trax.  (This is another TV series I’d like to see released on DVD.)  I think Out of Time may have suffered from more than a few setbacks.  Part of it is the writing.  I’d like to think the movie would have made more sense as part of a series, but it just doesn’t work as a standalone release.  Channing and Maxell seem just too goofy to take seriously.

Also, I suspect that there wasn’t enough of a budget to make it work.  There are almost no special effects to speak of.  We see a laser effect maybe two or three times.  When we do see it, it comes across as just this side of obvious.  The props look like rejects for kids toys.  Channing’s gun looks like someone found a piece of acrylic somewhere and found a way to make it vaguely look like a gun.  I’m really not surprised that it didn’t get picked up for a full season.

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