The Time Traveler's Wife: All Episodes   Books Included 
May 15, 2022 6:56 PM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

I figure we won't need individual episode threads for the book-spoilers-included discussion, since it's only 6 episodes, even if it is dropping weekly rather than streaming all at once?

I agree with the Guardian review about finding those 'characters talking to the camera' scenes grating. I'm not sure I can think of a less clunky way of getting book Henry & Clare's internal monologues onscreen though.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:35 PM on May 15, 2022

Ah, I put my comment in the wrong thread!
posted by torticat at 9:28 PM on May 15, 2022

I'm not sure I can think of a less clunky way of getting book Henry & Clare's internal monologues onscreen though.

Agreed. Also the talking-to-the-camera scenes aren't played for humor, a la The Office. I don't totally agree with the Guardian criticism there. The < rec > scenes here are used to set some kind of real-life timeline in place, just to orient the viewer. It's not an original technique, but I didn't find it offensive or annoying.

I was more annoyed--but not even that so much, just a bit let down--by the writers' failure to give us some really good dialogue between Clare and Henry. It was fine (the bit about grooming the horse was funny in a very dark way), but come on. This is supposed to be a love story that transcends time. They could do much better.

If I remember right, some of the charge in Henry's and Clare's first adult meeting in the book has to do with her love of oral sex. Seems like HBO decided that age 18 (and 26?) was a bit dicey for introducing that, and I don't disagree. Some things can fly on a page (hello GoT)--or at least we as readers let them go--that absolutely are not okay on screen.
posted by torticat at 10:08 PM on May 15, 2022

Another thing about this show... they seem to be suggesting there will be a time traveler who is older than Henry, someone who trained him? That is something that is not in the book, is it? I would kind of love it if that person could have been his mom. I think it was suggested that he was a man, though.
posted by torticat at 10:18 PM on May 15, 2022

I thought it was pretty clear that the 'other time traveler' is always just an older Henry, it just takes some time before young Henry realizes it. I think it's just Clare not knowing already that's a show-thing. I don't remember Henry telling young Clare about it during any of his visits - though I don't think it's a topic he would be especially cagey about like some of the other things he avoided telling her about. I think they just wrote it into the date dialogue to have an excuse to segue into the museum scene.

Seems like HBO decided that age 18 (and 26?) was a bit dicey for introducing that, and I don't disagree.

Yeah, the show decided to have Henry and Clare's first time be the same first time, instead of Clare's first being at 18 with a Henry already married to her in the future and Henry's first time being her second time. Which, yeah, I don't trust Moffat to be able to make Clare's "I'm of legal age now" birthday date non-creepy in the way the book was able to, so, just as well to avoid it.

I was surprised at the reveal of Henry's amputated feet in the alley, episode 1 seems awfully early to introduce such a dire foreshadowing, that seemed like the biggest book-to-show change to me.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:02 AM on May 16, 2022

I liked this. Especially the discontinuation of experience and nonlinearity. Theo James' better than I could expect, and Rose Leslie was well cast.

I'm gonna need to watch the movie and find a copy of the book.
posted by porpoise at 6:33 PM on May 16, 2022

This (the show) seems superior to the movie (for now).
posted by porpoise at 8:50 PM on May 16, 2022

I only watched the movie once, but my memory is that it didn't capture the non-linear storytelling structure well, and the show definitely is doing that way better. Also, the movie left most of the Clare-centric scenes out. With 6 episodes there should be time for a better balance of the Henry/Clare story.
posted by oh yeah! at 3:13 AM on May 17, 2022

Feet fetishists all like "Not like that!"
posted by Marticus at 4:55 PM on May 17, 2022

I feel like they bungled the ‘teenage Henry fooling around with other teen Henry’ scene. His repeatedly claiming that it wasn’t gay since it’s just the two of him came off pretty ‘the queen doth protest too much.’ And it missed a big purpose of the scene, which was not just about Henry’s Dad being confronted with undeniable proof of his time-traveling, but of showing Henry’s inability to change his own past. The teen Henry from the future knew they were going to get caught eventually since he’d experienced already, but he had locked the door, and it was past Henry who accidentally unlocked it when he heard the father approaching, because he misinterpreted Henry’s attempt to warn him about the door. A good episode otherwise though.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:00 AM on May 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

The show vs the movie has definitely leaned in more to young Henry being a bit of an asshole (and off-putting to a Clare who knew only his older self). But this second episode went some distance toward explaining why Henry in his 20s is the way he is--probably for us and for Clare.

If I remember right (and I very well might not, even though I've read & reread the novel!), book-Clare does not get early intimations from Henry that things with them will end in a tragic way. I remember she has some kind of blurred memory from when she was a child of something bad or weird going on outside during the night. Seems like the show is giving her a little more information ahead of time?
posted by torticat at 2:37 AM on May 26, 2022

Yeah, book-Henry didn't get such dire warnings from his future self, or see things like his blood all over the bathroom floor or his feet showing up in an alley. Book-Clare and young-adult book-Henry could still have hope that the reason they never met an older-than-41-Henry was because in the future there was a cure for his time-traveling disorder. It's not until later on that he learns for certain what the future actually holds for him, and never had any advance warning about the frostbite destroying his feet.

I'm not sure why the show chose to bring the tragedy into the story from the get-go. Though, reading the book I was devastated when I got to the point of realizing there was no way to save Henry, that they'd already established that there was no way to change the past. I cried so hard. I've re-read the book a few times, but I generally stop before the very end unless I really want a big cry.
posted by oh yeah! at 3:07 AM on May 26, 2022 [1 favorite]

I wasn't a fan of the frozen feet reveal. Felt like a stunt, as if the viewers couldn't be trusted to understand there is danger involved in this situation. (Plus, good grief--Henry's feet were amputated--he didn't just leave them behind in some alley! I can't imagine what kind of gruesome scene they have in mind for us in the future, to explain that.)

I also wasn't a fan of Clare's pulling into two lanes of oncoming traffic. One, she should have been smart enough to know that she could injure other people; and two, I live in New York, where several years ago there was an absolutely traumatizing event when a woman did exactly that on the Taconic State Parkway and killed several children. The fact (back in fiction-world) that Henry's mom had died in a horrific car accident makes it an especially horrible thing for her to have done.
posted by torticat at 8:58 AM on June 1, 2022

I just finished the first episode. I loved the book when I read it, so many years ago. Was disappointed with the movie, but understood its limitations.
I agree that the nonlinearity and simultaneity of Henry's time traveling has been pretty well captured so far in this.
One thing that threw me, and maybe it's just me, but...they seem to be able to do Henry's aging/de-aging with makeup and hair, but rely on CG for Claire? Her look in the POV scenes is very off-putting.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:10 AM on June 3, 2022

Just watched episode 4 - glad that they didn't write out 18-year-old Claire's first time being with Henry in the meadow after all. But I also really liked the way the dinner-date with Gomez and Charisse diverged from the book by adding Ingrid and older-Henry into the mix. I mean, with only 2 episodes to go, they had to get moving on the characterizations for Gomez and Ingrid, but, that scene between Ingrid and older-Henry was really moving.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:28 PM on June 7, 2022

That dinner party should turn out to be a classic.

There are similar vibes in 'The Man from Earth' (2007).
posted by porpoise at 6:52 PM on June 9, 2022

Just watched episodes 5 & 6 -- I did start to wonder as the season went on how much of the book they were going to have to excise to fit it into only 6 episodes, but it hadn't even occurred to me that they were hoping to string it out into more seasons. I feel slightly miffed. And I kinda don't like that younger Henry found out about the vasectomy from older Henry, it makes the conception more paradoxical than in the book.

Overall, it's been a good adaptation. But I wish they'd just done it all in one go.
posted by oh yeah! at 3:35 PM on June 20, 2022

I liked this as a whole a rather lot.

Maybe the show is trying to go both ways, but was it intended that the "you haven't gotten the vasectomy... yet" (paraphrased) supposed to show inevitability (and the subsequent miscarriages) or that there might be a hope of changing fate/ time?

My criticism is that it felt like he was popping in and out of time all the time. Like, he'd pop around a couple of times a week.

Did Henry ever experience, say, a month or a year of stability (or did I just miss it in the show)? Like, popping out of time randomly, like in a Monte Carlo simulation?

Not entirely sure I don't like the castings for youngersters Clare.

We saw the wheelchair, but did I also miss the how the feet thing went down?
posted by porpoise at 10:50 PM on June 20, 2022

You didn't miss anything, porpoise, Henry saw his severed feet in the alley in episode 1, and the wheelchair in his future home, but he hasn't learned the when/why/how of it yet.

Maybe the show is trying to go both ways, but was it intended that the "you haven't gotten the vasectomy... yet" (paraphrased) supposed to show inevitability (and the subsequent miscarriages) or that there might be a hope of changing fate/ time?

I don't know, it seems to go against a pretty fundamental element of the story - that Henry has learned that he cannot change his past/future. In the book, future-Henry never told his past self about the miscarriages - in fact, I think maybe younger Henry was angry that his older self wouldn't tell him whether or not they were ever going to have a baby. Because his older self knew exactly when/how he found out he would be a father, and knew he hadn't learned it from himself.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:50 PM on June 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

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