Tuesday, June 24, 2014

TUNE IN JUNE: Time Trax (1993)

Note: Here on Shlock to the System, June is TUNE IN JUNE, which is really just an excuse for me to catch up on some TV series I've been meaning to watch for a while. But I will also be watching a number of TV movies, particularly ones from the hey-day of the TV movie, the 70s and 80s.

Time Trax (1993)
Director: Lewis Teague
Starring: Dale Midkiff, Mia Sara, Elizabeth Alexander, Michael Warren, Henry Darrow
Format: VHS

Plot: Captain Darien Lambert (Midkiff) is a police officer in the year 2193, in the elite fugitive retrieval unit. He learns that a prominent scientist has developed a time machine called Trax. For a large fee, he has been sending dangerous criminals back to the year 1993, where they are safe from capture. When Darien corners the scientist, he escapes into the past. Darien also travels to 1993, vowing to retrieve all fugitives and send them back for punishment. Armed with a computer that looks like a credit card, named SELMA (Alexander), and a high-tech laser weapon disguised as a remote car alarm.

This is the two-part pilot of a TV series that apparently lasted two seasons (although I've never seen it, or in fact heard of it before I bought this pilot/movie on VHS). But I quite enjoyed it, and will hopefully come across the series one day and be able to check it out (as far as I can tell it's only available as part of Warner's MOD program, and sells at ridiculous prices).

Because this is a pilot movie, a good portion of it is spent setting up the characters and scenario, which does drag out a bit, but the action really ramps up towards the end, with an exploding boat, a chase through a jungle and someone falling off a massive waterfall. And it's no coincidence that things improve overall once the setting shifts from 2193 to 1993, because the portion set in the future isn't very convincing, or interesting for that matter. The "fish out of water" stuff in 1993 is much more fun.

Dale Midkiff is a likeable enough leading man and he has good chemistry with his love interest, the always-beautiful Mia (FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF), who plays dual roles - a woman in the future who Lambert falls for, and her great-granddaughter in 1993. A year after this she would also star in another time travel story, Jean Claude Van Damme's TIMECOP. Another piece of trivia is that both Midkiff (PET SEMETARY) and director Teague (CUJO) had previously worked on Stephen King adaptions, althought not together.

The hologram companion, coupled with time travel, did make me think of QUANTUM LEAP, with it's similar construct, but Time Trax doesn't have the wry sense of humour of Dean Stockwell's Al.

In summary, if I'd caught this Time Trax pilot back in the day, I'd be tuning in to catch the series to see if it develops well. The concept is interesting and any excuse to look at Mia Sara on a regular basis, am I right?

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