I watch a lot of TV. Some shows are outright bad, and entertainingly so too, oftentimes becoming enjoyable to watch despite their flaws. On the other side of the spectrum are those shows you strive to fill your day watching; the crowning jewels of the television world and memorable series that leave a lasting appeal. There are also those shows that become beloved cultural icons despite their mundanity or flaws, finding a loyal fanbase and cultivating lasting appeal that way. Then you have shows like Twice Upon A Time.
Twice Upon A Time is neither a bad or a good show. It’s an artistic expression of ideas that feels stitched together with a deliberate attempt to produce a non-linear story about time-travel but not doing a particularly admirable job of it. Given the solid and ever-so-slightly cliched idea about saving a loved one, Twice Upon A Time’s execution leaves a lot to be desired.
At its core, the show utilizes the age-old time machine mechanics seen in H.G. Well’s The Time Machine. Vincent is a man desperate to rekindle those old fires of romance with ex-flame Louise. When he happens to be the chance recipient of a mysterious parcel holding a wooden cube, he finally sees this wish come to fruition. This cube, as fate would have it, takes him back in time to a timeline where he and Louise are still an item.
Determined to right the wrongs of the past, Vincent sets out to try and change the future, but in doing so causes a ripple effect across both timelines. Across four 47 minute long episodes, this storyline more-or-less remains the core foundation for a lot of the other character drama to play out and as the stories converge late on therein lies the biggest issue with this series.
For much of the run-time, Twice Upon A Time busies itself with flashbacks, past-timeline drama and an almost non-linear approach to storyline for the sake of being artistic. Don’t get me wrong, the show pulls off its triple-timeline reasonably well, with some good blur effects and letterbox composition for the past but all of this collides together with abstract and oftentimes jarring edits back and forth through time.
Aside from a few “aha” moments in the final episode, Twice Upon A Time has little in the way of excitement or tension through much of the run-time. It’s a serious slow burn and although the final episode does show a noticeable amount of effort to try and tie everything together, the final few minutes undoes all the good work by proverbially pulling the strings from the messily-arranged bow on this series.
The lack of excitement, tension and suspense is unfortunately a recurring theme here and it’s something that curses the show throughout its four episode run. This is a serious slow burn thriller and I loathe to use that word because Twice Upon A Time isn’t all that thrilling either. It is an artistic and interesting series but one that tells the same story we’ve seen in other mediums before but in a much more methodical and unorthodox manner.
Don’t get me wrong though, there is enjoyment to be had here and a few of the segments are pretty good, with a few of the scenes in the final episode working quite well to bring things together. Unfortunately against other time travel shows of its kind, this one really pales by comparison. Unless you’re a die-hard of the genre or are in the mood for a more artistic, abstract way of presenting a story, Twice Upon A Time is a tough sell and its cliffhanger ending does the show little favours in terms of longevity.