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Crime Traveller II (1997)

A time machine makes solving the most puzzling crimes possible.

Rating: 5/10

Running Time: 200 minutes

UK Certificate: PG


Michael French and Chloë Annett star as Detective Jeff Slade and his colleague Science Officer Holly Turner. Holly's father was a scientist and inventor who created a time machine before vanishing during an experiment – believed lost in another dimension. Holly has inherited the machine, which she now maintains while trying to do more research on time travel. Jeff has found out about the time machine, and together he and Holly use it to solve crimes that defeat more conventional methods of investigation. Sadly, the machine is very much a prototype – Holly's father was still working on it – so its ability to work is rather compromised as there is no way to be sure if it will send them back by a few minutes or a few hours. They have to work within the limitations of the machine.

The time machine also needs constant maintenance, so Holly is always having to fix it and complaining about Jeff's casual use of it. In addition, travel through time has rules in order to avoid paradox (such as avoiding meeting one's past self), although this does not prevent Jeff from trying to circumvent them – albeit unsuccessfully and with occasionally amusing results. One of the biggest risks is that they will be away from the machine when their borrowed time runs out – they need to be in the machine when things return to normal. The plot is always twisting as they encounter the results of future time trips that they have not yet taken (such as Jeff discovering that the mystery suspect he is seeking is himself travelled back from the future) and try to avoid getting caught up in paradoxes.

This drama was originally shown as an eight-part BBC miniseries, and has now been released on DVD as 'Crime Traveller' and 'Crime Traveller II'. Although largely overlooked at the time and now somewhat dated, it does have an interesting premise and makes a valiant attempt to deal with the paradoxes inherent in time travel – something overlooked in many time travel stories. Less attention has been paid to the mechanics of time travel, and it would have been nice to see some solid science backing up the theories. The acting by Michael French and Chloë Annett is rarely better than workmanlike, although when they are on form they do work well together. Sue Johnston as DCI Grisham is fun to watch, as always. In common with many BBC sci-fi dramas, the budget on this one was clearly limited, however they do a good job with what they have – the time machine itself is a fine creation.

It's Got: Plenty of plot twists and turns.

It Needs: More research into the science behind the story.

DVD Extras Only the basics included – the story takes up most of this two-disc set. Extras: Biographies of directors and writer, Synopses, Trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 3/10


Slightly dated-looking futuristic BBC crime sci-fi that nonetheless contains enough plot twists and good ideas to retain some interest.