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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Voyagers! The Complete Series (review)

It’s a cult favorite among Generation X, so I’m sure that plenty of folks my age have been eagerly awaiting the DVD release of this 1982-3 NBC fantasy series. I never watched it as a kid, though, and my first exposure to it on this new DVD set will gladly be my last. The mysterious time traveler Phineas Bogg (Jon-Erik Hexum) picks up an accidental hitchhiker in 12-year-old Jeffrey Jones (Meeno Peluce), and now they travel around history righting things where events go off track. But Phineas is no Doctor Who — I suspect that British series, which was gaining a cult audience of its own in the U.S. at the time, was a powerful inspiration for this one — and the Omni, Bogg’s time-traveling device, is no TARDIS. (The Omni looks like a pocket watch; one childhood friend of mine developed his fixation on pocket watches thanks to this show…) These goofy adventures were intended, perhaps, to encourage children’s interest in the past, but they’re so simplistic that they’re more coloring book than history book; the 90s series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles did the same job much better, and in a far more enduringly entertaining way. And as drama, these 20 episodes are downright laughable (see Quantum Leap for a far superior execution of a similar idea). Worst of all, it seems unlikely that fans will be overjoyed with this set: the now-rough image has not been remastered, and the sound remains resolutely 2.0 mono. And there aren’t even any extras in the set. [buy at Amazon]

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

posted in:
tv on dvd
  • This is one of those shows which I absolutely adored when I was ten, but haven’t seen since its original airing, and now intend to resolutely avoid lest the cold light of adulthood reveals how crummy it really was. I’ll keep my rose-colored memories, thanks.

  • patrick

    Yeah, I remember loving this show. But then, thanks to the internet, I found an ep online, I couldn’t believe how bad it was. Oh well. I’ll always have “The Greatest American Hero” :P

  • I won’t fault it for bad intentions at least. IIRC, at the end of every show, a voice-over would say something to the effect of, “If you want to learn more about [insert name of episode’s key historical figure], take a voyage down to your local library. It’s all in books.” I remember the last night a prime-timw show on a major network actually *encouraged* people to go out and read. Good on them. Perhaps they should have applied the practice to their scripts…

  • “I *can’t* remember the last time a *prime-time* show” actually encouraged people to read. Maybe I should apply the practice to more of my poential posts…

  • MaryAnn

    Yes, yes, absolutely, there is a great value in showing kids the genuine excitement of books. And this show may have worked in the 80s. I don’t think it would today.

  • I agree. Television has become so much more sophisticated in the last twenty years or so. Hard to remember when sitting through the latest piece of reality garbage, but true.

  • David C

    I think you and I were a couple years above the target age for this show, MaryAnn. I did watch it occasionally, but didn’t particularly care for it. It’s also one of those shows where, if you do know anything about the real-life history, the deviations drive you nuts. I particularly remember one show about Babe Ruth where the time travelers are basically all “You gotta give up pitching and the Red Sox, Babe, and go to New York and become a hitter!” Right on the broadest details (Babe Ruth *was* a male human who pitched for the Red Sox before being traded to the Yankees. Actually, not all that sure about the “human” part… he’d fit right in with the Men In Black backstory….) But the inaccuracies and oversimplification bugged me even then.

  • MaryAnn

    Maybe, David, but my friend with the watch fixation I mentioned in the review? He’s the exact same age as us.

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