Andy's Anachronisms
Time Travel Television Reviews

That Was Then
Principal Cast
  Bess Armstrong
Andrea Bowen
James Bulliard
Tyler Labine
Logan O'Brien
Tricia O'Kelley
Brad Raider
Kiele Sanchez
Jeffrey Tambor
Mickey Glass
Zooey
Travis Glass
Danny Pinkus
Ethan Glass
Sophie Frisch
Gregg Glass
Claudia Wills
Double G

Synopsis

That Was Then debuted in the Fall of 2002 on the ABC network and lasted a mear 2 episodes before the network pulled the plug.

The description of the series is courtesy of ABC's own site:

"Travis Glass is about to turn 30 and his life couldn't be worse. He lives with his mother. He's a door salesman. And the longtime love of his life is married to his brother. His descent into loserdom dates back to a fateful and humiliating week in high school, and all Travis wants is a second chance to get it right.

Be careful what you wish for

Travis wakes up the next morning, 16 again, with a chance to relive all of life's firsts. While tinkering with the past, he manages to save a life, jeopardize a marriage, and lose the most precious thing in his otherwise flawed future. Before he knows it, Travis is transported back to adulthood, about to turn 30 again, and his life couldn't be worse

Now, he'll have to keep hopping back and forth between high school and adulthood until he figures out how to put things right once and for all. But how do you put things right when every move you make can result in a new and totally unexpected future?"

The premier episode of That Was Then appropriately called The Thirty-Year Itch introduces us to Travis Glass and his dysfunctional family. On the verge of turning 30 Travis realizes his life is going no where fast and wishes he could back to 1988 and change the outcome of two key events in his life; his failure to deliver his award winning speech in front of the school assembly and the loss of the love of his life to his brother Gregg. During his birthday celebrations Travis' mother essentially tells him to stop regretting the past and to move on with his life.

Despondent, Travis retires to his room to listen to old Kinks albums and to read his award winning speech from 1988. As an electrical storm rages outside Travis falls asleep while listening to The Kinks play "Do It Again" on his head phones. A nearby lightning strike causes and energy surge to the stereo and initiating the transition.

Travis wakes the next morning surprised to find himself 16 again and back in the world of 1988. One of Travis' first challenges is convincing his best friend Pinkus that he is indeed from the future. During his quest to set right his "mistakes" Travis becomes aware of other events unfolding around him that he was oblivious to the first time around. Travis accidently discovers his mother's infidelity and awakens to the possibility that her life is very much different that what he had previously suspected. Travis is also faced with the dilemma of intervening in other's lives as he is given the opportunity to save a friend's life based on his knowledge of the future.

By the end of the episode we learn that Travis life has already taken a much different spin than his earlier life as he attends a popular party and becomes the object of desire of Lanie Snider the head of the high school pep squad, and incidentally Pinkus' crush. Travis is thrown back to the future when he suddenly hears the Kinks "Do It Again" playing at the party. To his shock he discovers he is married to Lannie with two daughters and has become the Mayor of the town. This sets the tone for the next episode where Travis must return to 1988 and try to undo these new events.

 

Getting Around In Time

What makes the method of time travel in "That Was Then" unusual is that "Do It Again" acts as a trigger transporting him back to the present where he faces the consequences of his meddling with the past.

Review

In a bizarre twist of coincidence or perhaps just a shallow Hollywood gene pool, both ABC and the WB networks backed similarly themed shows during the fall of 2002. WB's effort 1/2 hour comedy called Do Over has a 34-year old transported back to 1981 to relieve his teen years as a 14 year old. Unfortunately ABC's more risky gamble of an hour long mix of comedy and drama didn't manage to find an audience on Friday night before the network executives decided to drop the series after only two episodes.

The two episodes that did air managed to balance the drama of the series with a fair amount of humor. Personally I found the show lacking in the writing and directing in my opinion. The pilot episode begins awkwardly with the action freezing at the beginning of each scene so Travis (James Bulliard) can explain in voice-over who everyone is. I felt the writers/director were not trusting the audience enough to pick up on the relationships between the characters. While such a device may have been necessary in future episodes given the potentially complicated plots that could develop from Travis' interference with the past, it felt over bearing during the pilot.

The show makes good use of music from the era and in addition to the predominant Kinks tune "Do it Again", the pilot featured a number of 80s hits:

  • Let My Love Open the Door -- Pete Townshend [1980]
  • Faith -- George Michael [1987]
  • Get Out of My Dreams -- Billy Ocean [1988]
  • Let the Music Play -- Shannon [1983]

I thought the show hit on some important theme such as living life without regret. During Travis speech to the school he works the crowd into a frenzy chanting "Fix it on the way" as sort of a mantra about not being able to change the past. While the scene itself isn't exactly credible, the sentiment is. Travis realizes that most people aren't given a second chance and that best they can hope for is to learn from the mistakes and to make it happen now.

While its very doubtful the show will receive a reprise by the network, it would be interesting to see the remaining episodes that have already been filmed to see how the series progressed.

Related Links
"That Was Then" at TV TOME

TV TOME is an all around guide for television shows past and present. The That Was Then page is clean and informative and contains all the information you need to know about the series including cast, episode guide and links.

http://www.tvtome.com


ABC Network

Since cancelling the series, ABC wasted no time dropping all mention of the series from their site. Several people have suggested that would-be fans of the show drop ABC a line and tell them they were premature in dropping the series.

You can email ABC and let them know how you feel at:

netaudr@abc.com
or
abc.audience.relations@abc.com

I also came across this mailing address for the production company responsible for "That Was Then". I've since sent them a letter of codolonce at having their series axed and wishing them well for the future.

That Was Then
8660 Hayden Pl., 2nd Fl.
Culver City, CA 90232


Return to Andy's Anachronisms Home

Return to Television Review Index

Review Posted: 2002-07-21
Review Revised: 2002-12-08