James’ Henry noted that time travel “happened to me” at unexpected times — a “genetic defect” that caused him to degenerate over time, leaving him “naked, penniless, and running.” He and Claire (“Game of Thrones” Leslie) explain it all directly to the camera at different stages of their lives, kind of like “The Office,” only with more nudity.
In fact, James’ back is sure to be exposed in sometimes comical ways as he escapes the particular situation in which he finds himself. However, the main thrust of the series is a non-linear exploration of the arc of their relationship, including moments when Claire knows more than Henry because the encounter she’s referring to hasn’t happened to that version of him.
Time travel will always create all sorts of puzzling possibilities, but the way it’s used in the context of Audrey Niffinger’s book can be especially objectionable when translated to screen. At the top of the list is the first time Claire and Henry met (for her anyway) when she was a child and he was an adult, and as she grew up, he often spoke back to her.
“I’ve been in love with him since I was six,” says Claire, and while their romantic twists and turns are so perfectly drawn, even Henry admits that it’s hard to get past that subplot, and at least it doesn’t sound like it Kind of creepy.
The main attraction comes entirely from the two stars, who not only convey the periodic absurdity of their frequent interruptions in communication, but effectively play characters for multiple ages, which is no small feat considering how often time frames reset. .
It’s an admirable effort, but just underscores how inappropriate the material can be — bottom line, if time is really precious, these six episodes end up feeling like a waste of time.
“The Time Traveler’s Wife” premieres May 15 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, which, like CNN, is a division of the Warner Bros. Discovery Channel.