I love time travel! It’s no coincidence that two of my favorite movies are Star Trek IV and Back to the Future. The idea of being able to travel back to see the past, even change mistakes made, is a fantastic one. Not to say anything about the chance to go ahead and see what our future will be like.

While I love time travel stories, I have to admit that some creators will come up with very….odd plots with time travel. Now I don’t expect everyone who puts time travel in a story to have an advanced degree in quantum mechanics, and I concede even the best time travel stories require some suspension of disbelief, but some creators seem to lack basic common sense when it comes to how time travel might work. Making things up, or using time travel as a plot device, even if it makes no sense whatsoever.

Here are five examples of what I mean:

 

 

 

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

 

I know I know, this a kids show and it’s probably not fair to make fun of it. But thanks to my nephew (and being out of work last year) I got see lots of episodes. I love nitpicking the silly plots, but the one that really annoyed was the one where Prof Von Drake builds a time machine. How does it work? Goofy goes through it and is somehow transformed into a baby. No he isn’t swapped with a younger version of himself, he is changed into a baby! Yeah, that’s not what time machines do!!!!! I mean obviously the kids watching wont care but the writers had to have some knowledge of time machines, why not called it a “transmorpher” or some other name that would make a little more sense? Or is the thinking that kids wont know the difference so why even try?

 

 

 

 

DC Comics

 

A bit of a cheat here since I am not discussing one story in particular but let’s discuss it anyway. DC Comics was really silly about their time travel stories in the 60 and 70’s. With casual time travel having all sorts of convenient rules. Thankfully the got better toward the 90’s when they realized that their time travel has to have some logic. But in the early days…wow! Two examples of what I mean here. Back in the 70’s and 80’s, it was established that no two people could exist in the same place at the same time. Why not? No clue. But it gets dumber. If you do travel into the past, and a past self of you is there, you don’t die. No, you turn into an invisible phantasm who can watch events but cannot interact with anything or anyone. Um, what? And how is the time travel accomplished? Well Superman was fast and could break the time barrier at will and Flash used a treadmill…….I lost you haven’t I?

 

Want stupider? Ok! Back in he silver age (yeah, the silver age!) Batman knows someone named Professor Carter Nichols. He has the ability to send Bruce and Dick back in time for wacky adventures. How? Time machine? Nope. He uses hypnotism! This gimmick was used a lot in Batman stories at the time and also popped up in the Superfriends comic book and makes NO SENSE. Now, I am not talking about the technique people use to mentally go into another time period. No, somehow Nichols hypnotism literally sends Batman and Robin to various time periods. How can you physically be in the past if your physical body is in the present? Apparently he did invent a time ray but thankfully when the silver age ended this chaaracter faded away.

 

 

Not to be undone, Superfriends had a story where Superman went back in time to prevent Krypton’s destruction. When he returns to the present he finds the world without him is not so good. But here’s my question, if he changed the circumstances of his birth than how could he still exist anyway? Then there’s the episode when some villains alter the heroes of some of the heroes which alters history except for themselves…..argh! Superfriends played very loose and casual with time travel and someday I hope to discuss that show more in depth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Trek Generations

 

Star Trek has asked us to accept a lot. Warp speed sling shot effects, time portals that can send you anywhere, magical orbs. But by the far the dumbest and most poorly though out has to be the Nexus from Generations. The Nexus is a…..place that exists I guess. When you’re inside it your greatest hearts desire comes to be. Sort of. What the hell is the Nexus? An hallucination? But the dumbest part comes when Picard is told that when in the Nexus you can go anyplace…anytime. Um, how the hell is that possible? If it is possible, why the urgency? Why in the world does Picard pick the time he goes back to? Why didn’t Riker think to re modulate the shield frequency (oops, off on a tangent, sorry)? I mean seriously, why didn’t they simply establish a limitation, like “you can only go back to the time and place where you entered the Nexus”. My god, that one line of dialogue that I made up clears up half the movie! Nice of the creators to put no thought into this at all.

 

 

 

 

 

Southland Tales
I missed an opportunity to put this on another list that it should have gone on, so I had better not miss this one. Ok let me see if I get this. Due to the slowing of Earth’s rotation a temporal rift had formed near Lake Mead (yeah, I am starting here or we’d be here all day). Boxer Santaros is a movie star who was chosen to go through the rift. He was kidnapped by Roland Taverner and forced through, and then he was duplicated. One Boxer traveled back an hour, and had amnesia, while another was killed. Roland Taverner was duplicated also but the two copies can’t touch because the world would be destroyed and I have no idea what the hell I am writing about. I am not even getting into The Book of Revelations nonsense. This was just made up as they went along, wasn’t  it?

 

 

 

 

Family Matters

 

This was several different kinds of dumb. Not because of how the time travel is done so much, but the show that it was on. Yeah, Family Matters. You know, that nice little show about the black suburban Chicago family, that is supposed to be set in the real world (or a reasonable facsimile thereof). FAMILY MATTES HAD TIME TRAVEL! Even as I type that I can’t fathom it. I mean, WTF?? This isn’t jumping the shark, it’s jumping the shark and slamming into the beach! So in case your wondering Urkel invents a time machine. This is after he invented cloning, built a transformation chamber, and then a transporter so the family can visit Paris. Then in one episode he develops a time machine. Carl goes back to the 70’s and changes history to become rich. When he discover the changes in the present are not for the better, they go back to fix it. Typical time travel plot and it’s not bad except for one thing…it’s in a FAMILY MATTERS episode. At least when The Simpsons did it they had an excuse, it was a Halloween episode. This was stupid. The time machine is used again so Carl and Steve can board a pirate vessel in the 1700’s. I wish I was kidding. Nothing I like in my family sitcoms more than casual time travel!!!!!

 

 

 

 

I’m sure you guys can come with even stranger examples of weird time machine plots that make no sense, so feel free to comment and let me know.

By richb

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