Series / Time Trax

Time Trax (1993-1994) was a television series, an American-Australian co-production.

Time Travel is invented in the last decade of the 22nd century, and its inventor, Doctor Mordecai "Mo" Sahmbi, uses it to help criminals escape justice by sending them back 200 years in time. When Sahmbi uses it himself, police Captain Darien Lambert volunteers to go into the past himself, capture the fugitives and return them to the 22nd century to pay for their crimes.

As a more evolved 22nd-century human, Lambert is in better-than-peak physical condition, and possesses a special ability called Time Stalling which allows him to react much faster to his environment. He also has access to advanced technology, like a MPPT (Micro Pellet Projection Tube; to all practical effects a stun ray) disguised as a car alarm, and SELMA (Specified Encapsulated Limitless Memory Archive), an artificially intelligent supercomputer the size of a credit card, capable of projecting a holographic avatar in order to better depart and quarrel with Lambert.

The main Phlebotinum of the series are TXP, a drug which allows the "molecular alignment" required for time travel, and TRAX, the time machine which makes time travel possible. (Lambert's MPPT can project pellets loaded with TXP.)

The Time Travel treatment in the series was inconsistent. Captain Lambert, fearing the possible consequences of altering the timeline, did not actively attempt to interfere with the flow of history known to him, although he frequently left messages for his colleagues in 2193 (via the 'personals' sections of a newspaper). However, the series made a couple allusions to a theory of parallel timelines to try (not very succesfully) to evade the issue of temporal paradox, implying that the time travellers went into an alternate past so that their actions there had no effect on the 2193 "present." (This would prevent the newspapers ads to be read in the future, however...) This inconsistency affected the selected method for retrieving fugitives also; after they received a projected pellet, sometimes Lambert published an ad requesting the retrieval, but most of the time SELMA would emit a "transmission tone" which somehow was detected by TRAX and triggered the time travel of the fugitive.

The series contained examples of:

  • Accidental Pervert: It's not Darien's fault that the time machine can only send things back to a specific location, which happens to be a ladies' room. In a later episode, when he needs to retrieve a briefcase sent by his boss, he has to ask help from a female cop.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Averted, while Procardians can understand English (they have studied Earth for some time), their vocal cords are very different, which prevents them from making the right sounds. The one time one of them says "thank you", it sounds absolutely horrible (think auto-tune on steroids).
  • Arbitrarily Large Bank Account: Since Selma is disguised as an ordinary credit card, Darien doesn't ever have to worry about money. Presumably, Selma simply hacks the machine as she's being swiped. This becomes a problem when Selma is stolen by a crook, who thinks it's an ordinary credit card.
  • Artificial Gravity: A scientist from the future named Dr. Carter Bach has invented an anti-gravity belt called APTUX (Anti-gravity Personal Transport Unit, Experimental). However, the prototype was Made of Explodium, resulting in the invention being banned. After ending up in the past (he is not a fugitive, though), he resolved to recreate and perfect the technology, to fulfill man's greatest dream. He makes a more advanced version that is more stable. Darien actually gets to try it out, awing a kid, who happens to be reading a comic book. Unfortunately, some shady characters are after the invention, and the belt ends up being destroyed. Darien makes Bach promise not to make any more. The scientist agrees... and tells him he wants to focus on something else (Darien later finds out it's an invention that allows one to Walk on Water).
  • Becoming the Mask: A convicted cop from the future escapes to the past (our present) and becomes a marshal, in the style of a old-west lawman. He's genuinely at home in the role.
    • His connection with Darien seems to hinge on the fact that likewise Lambert seems to fit in way better as a fugitive hunter in the 20th century, than he did as a cop in the future.
  • Blood Sport: Inverted. In the future, boxing is considered this trope and has been made illegal. In one episode, Darien is approached by the father of a kid, who has escaped into the past in order to become a boxing champion using his enhanced future physique and "time stalling" as advantages. Darien is forced to train in order to knock him out of the championship.
  • Bullet Time: Time Stalling
  • Da Chief: Darien's police captain in the future. He only ever interacts with him through messages, though.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Darien finally meets his mother (who is a temporal fugitive), only for her to give her life to save his. He holds her, as she expires from a mortal wound, unable to send her to the future, as the shock would be fatal.
  • Disintegrator Ray: A scientist in the future invents a weapon that can blast a person into molecules with sound waves. Darien is the one who originally arrested him, losing his partner to the weapon in the process. This time, he is determined to stop the guy in the past and avenge his partner.
  • Disposable Love Interest: Nearly every episode Lambert gets a new girlfriend, then leaves her behind by the time the end credits roll.
  • Evil Twin: In the form of a Sahmbi created android in the episode "Almost Human".
  • Expositron 9000: SELMA.
  • Fantastic Racism: White people are a despised minority in the future, as the planet is united as one country in which Asians and Africans outnumber other ethnic groups. Lambert has been derided with the vicious slur Blanco!.
  • First Contact: According to Selma, an alien race from the planet Procardia have made contact with Earth a few decades before Darien's departure into the past. A ship with a Procardian delegation is expected within the next few years. As Darien discovers, though, Procardians have been to Earth before but have found humans wanting. One of them was accidentally left behind, and her lover later arrives to look for her on a one-way trip. After they are reunited, Darien offers to send them to the future to await their ride home. They agree, even though TXP hasn't been tested on non-humans and could be fatal. Also, all their loved ones will be dead by the 22nd century.
  • Fish Out of Temporal Water: Darien Lambert
  • Flying Car: These appear to be ubiquitous in the future.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: The transmission tone. Sometimes is not used and Lambert resorts to the old trick of personal ads.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams:
    • The same scientist, who invented the Disintegrator Ray (see above), invents a powerful laser that is used to cut open thick safes in seconds. His cronies use it to rob armored trucks to finance his research.
    • Another episode involves a sort-of weapon that fires invisible beams that speed up a living being's heartbeat temporarily with eventual fatal results. The episode's villain uses it to consistently win at horse racing. Darien later finds the farm, where the guy's horses get sent after every race (he keeps buying new ones) and finds dozens of them buried there. The bad guy then kills an underling this way, causing a heart attack.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The people of the future sure do love their acronyms.
    • SELMA - Specified Encapsulated Limitless Memory Archive.
    • CINDI - Consumer Information Network Data Interface.
    • APTUX - Anti-gravity Personal Transport Unit, Experimental.
    • There are also TRAX and TXP, whose acronyms are never deciphered.
  • Human Outside, Alien Inside: The Procardians who appear in one episode have have a number of not-so-obvious biological oddities about them.
  • Identical Grandson: Lambert's paramour from the future, Elissa Chang-Knox, and her police grandmother in the present, Annie Knox, who helps Lambert on his initial pursuits.
  • Impersonating an Officer: In one episode Lambert's police badge is stolen and is later used for a Flashed-Badge Hijack by the guy who stole it.
  • Improbable Age: In the above-mentioned episode where Lambert's badge is stolen he teams up with another cop who remarks he's pretty damn young to be a police captain.
  • Improbably High I.Q.: Darien's IQ is stated to be 205, which is "about average". One would think that, by the 22nd century, the IQ scale would be revised to make 100 the average, as it is now.
  • Loony Fan: A guy from the future is a huge fan of a popular country singer. He buys all her paraphernalia and copies of all her songs and jumps to the past, when she is just starting out. He starts sending her notes and gifts in the form of items that are hers from the future. Eventually, he kidnaps her and shows her a hologram of her future self singing, excitedly explaining that he plans for her to become a star early by singing the same songs she would eventually write. Darien ends up stopping him and explains to her that, due to this change, she might no longer be popular in her future (his own "present" remains unchanged, though).
  • Mad Scientist: Mordecai Sahmbi, a brilliant inventor, who discovers Time Travel and the drug that allows one to use his time machine without dying. In order to get rich, he helps convicted criminals flee justice by sending them into the past. When his scheme is discovered by cops, he kills The Mole and flees into the past himself. He is an occasional thorn in Darien's side. Darien encounters others during the show.
  • Meanwhile, in the Future
  • One World Order: It's briefly mentioned that, in the 22nd century, Earth is united under a single government. This results in Fantastic Racism against this world's minorities - white people.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Darien at the end of "One On One."
    Darien: SELMA, how fast can you run?
    SELMA: *amused* I can keep up with you.
  • Phlebotinum Breakdown: TXP is lethal after two doses; however, the villain from the pilot, Sepp Dietrich, was TXP'd twice before Lambert sends him back to 2193 with a third dose; the effect was not death but failed time travel, deformity and a homicidal rage against Lambert. It's not casual that this happened after the Big Bad, Mordecai Sahmbi, was prematurely confronted and reduced to a mere occasional nuisance.
  • Present Day: Darien Lambert's destination
  • Product Placement: The opening credits contain a suspiciously long shot of a Continental Airlines airplane in flight; SELMA is disguised as an AT&T Credit Card.
  • Projected Man: Selma.
  • Public Secret Message: Lambert would send messages to the future by placing coded personal ads in the newspaper.
  • San Dimas Time: In a couple of episodes.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When under the influence of Sahmbi's latest invention, Darien contemplates using TXP on himself in order to return home. Selma doesn't admonish him for that, pointing out that he has already done more than can be expected out of a person, and no one would blame him for quitting. Another cop could always take his place. His determination to continue is renewed by the end of the episode.
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: CINDI (Consumer Information Network Data Interface) to SELMA. Unlike the wholesome mother-like figure of Selma, Cindi looks like a giggling blonde bimbo with virtually no personality. She also occasionally glitches.
  • Spikes of Doom: Darien nearly falls into a pit with those on the bottom. The trap is hidden by a hologram that projects an image of grass. It's only thanks to Selma detecting strange emissions nearby that he survives.
  • Stun Guns: Darien's Micro-Pellet Projection Tube, disguised as an ordinary car alarm keychain. Two of its buttons fire stun pellets (green and blue), which stun a person either for a few minutes or a few hours. The third button is for dosing the target with TXP, a drug required for Time Travel.
  • Super Cell Reception: Justified in one episode. Lambert takes a cellphone into an Amazonian swamp area, and his companion-of-the-episode gives him grief because it won't work where they are. He claims it's a satellite phone, but it's really SELMA, his computer-on-a-credit-card.
  • Super Reflexes: Time Stalling, where people of the 22nd century can temporarily boost their brain's processing power to effectively acquire superhuman reflexes. This is often used by the protagonist to beat his opponents.
  • Supernatural Fear Inducer: Darien arrives to a hotel, whose owner uses special waves to cause sleeping people to experience nightmares to the point of death. In the climax, Selma manages to Reverse the Polarity and send the waves back at the bad guy.
  • Time Machine: TRAX. Its use is normally lethal to living beings. A person can ingest a drug called TXP to allow him- or herself to survive a time jump. However, the drug itself is fatal after two doses, which allows, at most, a jump there and back. It's possible the technology is still in its infancy and may be made safer at some point. Sahmbi has also re-created a more primitive time machine, while in the 20th century, and used it to help corrupt industrialists get rid of toxic waste... by sending it to the future.
  • Time Police: Averted; only Lambert is chasing the time fugitives, and he's seen as heroic for trying.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: The "parallel universe theory" is mentioned in the pilot, and in an episode which required avoiding a series of assasinations convincing the would-be perpetrators that their actions wouldn't have effect on their own timeline; other episodes acted as if Lambert was changing the timeline with every action.
    • And in still other episodes it seemed that some things in his world only exist because he caused them to be - such as looking up his favorite chicken pot pie recipe from a cookbook written in 2192 and giving a copy to the man who invented it in 1992 - thus bringing his favorite meal into existence via paradox.
    • There was an episode where Lambert had to save the life of one of his favorite singers. At the end she says she'll name a song after him: Mystery Man. His response? "That's my favorite song".
      • In the same episode he tells her she may no longer be famous in her future due to the parallel universe thing. Way to alternate the theories in the same episode.
  • U.S. Marshal: Lambert's cover in present day was as a U.S. Marshal, as it is the role of that office to apprehend fugitives.
  • We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future: Cancer is mentioned to have been cured by the 22nd century. Additionally, people are generally much healthier and more fit. However, one episode mentions that, being in the past, where the environment is far more polluted, is slowly "adapting" the future physique to be worse. In one episode, Darien uses his foreknowledge of medical breakthroughs to help a terminally-ill woman, by sending her to a doctor, who is in the early stages of a new experimental treatment for the disease, which Darien knows will be successful.
  • Yakuza: One episode involves Darien going up against them. During the first encounter, he ends up causing one to fail in his task, so the guy performs a Yubitsume as punishment. In his second appearance, he is shown missing a pinkie with the hand bandaged.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/TimeTrax