Green Light, Kid, We Did It!

There are many clear inspirations for Time & Temp, such as Doctor Who, Quantum Leap, Primer, etc. But there’s a little known, tragically short-lived, TV show from the early 80s that probably had more influence on Time & Temp than all the others.

For one brief, shining season, Voyagers! was my favorite show on television. The formula was simple but satisfying. A mysterious and somewhat bumbling time traveler is forced by circumstances to team up with a kid just about my age to set right a history that keeps going astray. There was adventure and derring-do, the occasional romance, and a lesson in history at every turn.

Like Doctor Who, Voyagers! started out as something of an educational program. Unlike Doctor Who, it stuck to its guns. Every episode involved two historic moments that had gone awry and our heroes had to not only puzzle out what was wrong, but provide the solution. And at the end of it all, they’d cap the episode with Meeno Peluce (the actor who played the kid, Jeffery Jones) informing us that if we wanted to learn more about the subjects of the episode, all we had to do was “take a voyage down to your public library. It’s all in books!”

A couple years ago, I Netflixed the DVDs to see if the show held up. The charm was still there. And although it was clearly a show for children, or at least for parents and their children, I could still very much enjoy it. Of course, I couldn’t help cynically wondering if the mission of the Voyagers was not so much to protect history but to ensure a particular, decidedly pro-American version of history will have occurred; but I think it’s grand that there’s enough hinted at and never answered in the show to let one’s imagination run wild with such things.

And oh how wonderfully self-aware it was in ways I never expected. Repeatedly challenging itself with questions about just how appropriate it is for Phineas to drag a child Jeffrey’s age along on this dangerous mission.

I can’t say how conscious I was of Voyagers! influence on Time & Temp, but there are undeniable parallels. The mission of the Voyager Society and Browne Chronometric Engineering, Inc., is identical (right down to the unanswered questions about the intent of all this meddling in the past). The physics of time travel are a bit different, true; but the solutions the Phineas and Jeffrey come up with would not necessarily be out of place in the Time & Temp universe. And both would have made excellent temps (Marigold Staffing being temporally exempt from most child labor laws), what with them only being tenuously qualified for defending reality and would be largely unnoticed if they went missing.

If nothing else, Voyagers! is worth mentioning on the merit of having one of the sweetest rides of all time: the Omni. A pocket-globe that not only takes whoever’s holding it (and whoever’s touching them) on a rather harrowing ride through the continuum, but check out those lights. Red for when something is amiss and green when they’ve got it all fixed. Perhaps a precursor to the Ansari Anachronometer?

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4 comments

  1. Matt Wilson · October 23, 2009

    This show was awesome! I love that a time travel device can’t provide more specific info than a flashing light. Reminds me of that episode of Venture Brothers.

  2. Joshua A.C. Newman · October 23, 2009

    … and the video links to The Phoenix, which I’d forgotten about until this video!

    I was really into that Erich Von Daniken/Zachariah Sitchin stuff for a long time.

  3. Epidiah · October 25, 2009
  4. Wade · March 18

    A grown man travelling around with a 12 year old boy, this series would never be made today.

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