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Series / Crime Traveller

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Crime Traveller was a short-lived British television series from The '90s, created and written by Anthony Horowitz. Police detective Jeff Slade (Michael French) discovers the existence of a time machine (maintained by Holly Turner (ChloŽ Annett), daughter of the inventor) that can be used to travel up to a day into the past. Slade teams up with Turner and they start using the machine to solve crimes by visiting crime scenes as the crime is occurring.

Note that using the time machine to prevent the crimes isn't an option: The past is fixed, and any attempt to alter things results in the discovery that You Already Changed the Past. It happens more than once that a crime will have some odd detail which turns out to have been caused by Jeff Slade in his attempt to solve it.

This show provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: We get drip-fed a few pieces of information about Slade's past, including the fact he's divorced and has a photo of a woman who died in his flat, which would presumably have been followed up on if there'd been a second season.
  • Amateur Sleuth: Holly kind of fits this trope, since she's more of a scientist than a proper policeman.
  • British Brevity: The only season had 8 episodes. There were ideas for a second season, but the BBC wasn't impressed and axed it (like many other of its sci-fi shows from the late 90s).
  • Butt-Monkey: Detective Morris, Slade's rival. If anyone's going to slip over during a chase, it's him. One episode even ends with him covered in cuts and with his arm in a sling after being attacked by a dog.
  • Clear My Name: Episode 2, with the variant that they have five hours to do it and get back to the time machine. Also present in Episode 5.
  • Downer Ending: Although there's a comedic tag scene, the end of Episode 6, where Holly throws Slade out for using the time machine without her permission, has a whiff of this.
  • Eagleland Osmosis: At times, it does feel like the show is modelled on American police shows. There's a distinct lack of British police ranks: Slade tends to be referred to simply as "Detective Slade" (except for one episode where a newsreader says he's a detective sergeant) and Grisham is referred to simply as "Chief". Slade also carries a gun a lot more often than a British police officer would, even when off duty.
  • Evil Counterpart: Stephen Marlowe, the villain of the finale, uses time travel to commit murders and then give himself an alibi.
  • The Exotic Detective: Detective Sergeant Slade's best weapon to solve unusual cases is his access to a time machine that lets him witness the crime that (from his point of view) has already happened. There is no way to prevent the crime, so this is the best he can do with it.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Happens every time Slade tries to prevent a murder. Holly also experiences this when she goes back to prevent Slade being shot and merely causes him to meet the person who shoots him (although it turns out there were a few details she was unaware of).
  • Hooked Up Afterwards: There's a fair amount of UST between Slade and Holly, and the last episode ends with them holding hands in a rather non-platonic manner, but that's as far as it goes.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: It's not known what would happen if a time traveller met himself, but it's taken for granted that it would be bad. Probably a good idea.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Grisham is sometimes this, when she's not being a Bad Boss. It varies wildly.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Averted. They're not trying to explicitly change history, just learn more about the details of any mysterious/uncertain case, so it could get properly investigated.
  • Shout-Out: In Episode 6, Jeff is discussing a case with another officer, and says that "I've got another line of investigation"...while looking at a certain blue box.
  • The Slow Path: Since the time machine can only be used to travel into the past, the traveller can only get back to the "present" by the same method as everybody else. Good thing it's got such a short range, eh?
    • Of course, the physics of time travel do mean that anything that changes you between departure time and being at departure time again resets, such as the cut to the forehead that Slade receives in the first episode. Even if you do age after a time jump, you will revert back to the age you were to begin with.
    • There's a catch though: Miss the time limit left for you to return to the machine and you'll end up in a Stable Time Loop forever. Holly's father Frederick supposedly ended up like this, so he's not really dead (as if that was any reassurance). To prevent the the two detectives from not returning on time, they carry a special countdown wristwatch - and, as per Rule of Drama, it gets accidentally lost in one episode while the characters are on the run, further complicating matters...
  • Tempting Fate: Slade is very fond of doing this, especially when trying to make their return to the "present".
    Slade: We're gonna make it!
    Holly: Why is it that every time you say something like that, something horrible happens?
  • Theme Naming: One episode opens with the police catching a group of bank robbers named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It's not clear if they're their real names.
  • Time Travel: In theory, it's all Stable Time Loop and You Already Changed the Past... but in practice, slip-ups by the writer sometimes result in Timey-Wimey Ball moments. Oh, and you cannot travel into the future, since it hasn't occurred yet (unless you travel to the past and catch up with the point of "present" you departed from).
  • Wunza Plot: He's an ordinary London police detective, she's a police science officer who inherited a time machine created by her father. Together, they solve cases by travelling back in time.