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Series / Making History (2017)

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Making History was a 2017 comedy that aired on FOX for one season starring Adam Pally, Leighton Meester and Yassir Lester. Dan (Pally) is a janitor at a local college who has inherited a time machine (in the form of an oversized duffel bag) from his father which he uses to... take weekend trips to the past and seem important and romance Paul Revere's daughter, Deborah (Meester). Eventually, he begins to suspect that his actions may be affecting the future so he recruits Chris, a history teacher from his school (Lester), to help him get history back on track.

Unrelated to the 1996 Stephen Fry novel, and neither are related to Turn-Based Strategy series of the same name.

This series contains examples of:

  • Actually, I Am Him: In "The Touchables", the trio go back in time to Chicago 1919 to bet on the World Series. No one at the local speakeasy, however, pays any attention to them until Dan claims that he knows Al Capone. Everyone then treats them like royalty, giving them free drinks. They are approached by a man who doesn't believe their story. When Dan asks why, the man pulls a gun on him and says "Because I'm Al Capone."
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Deborah falls in love with Dan because he treats her with respect and as an equal like a 21st century man should, rather than as a dumb object that the people in the past do.
  • Been There, Shaped History:
    • It was Chris (and Dan, but mostly Chris) who fired the "Shot Heard Round the World" which started the battle of Lexington.
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    • Chris is the one who alerted the IRS about Al Capone's tax evasion. Unfortunately, that takes too long to solve their current predicament.
  • Bland-Name Product: at the beginning of "Body Trouble," Chris has been forced to take a teaching job at the craptastic "Lynn Community College," an apparent stand-in for North Shore Community College's Lynn campus, which is actually a rather nice building and, as of the episode's first airing, was even being improved upon.
  • Broken Pedestal: Chris is heartbroken to actually meet some of his idols and heroes and find out that they're kind of jackasses and not the larger-than-life figures he expected. Reaches its breaking point when his hero John Hancock tricks him into drinking urine.
  • Butt-Monkey: Chris gets the worst of it throughout the series. By the end of the first season, he's lost all chance of getting tenure, been repeatedly humiliated by his heroes, almost killed in the past several times, and shot in both eyes with paintballs, on his birthday.
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  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Part of the humor is Dan and Chris dealing with the different values systems they find in the past.
  • Easily Impressed: Dan impresses everyone in 1775 by quoting movies from the future and woos a woman by claiming to have written her songs (including "My Heart with Go On" by Céline Dion).
  • For Want of a Nail: Because Dan was having a tryst with his daughter, Paul Revere is too upset to warn the Colonists of the approaching British troops, putting the start of the American Revolution in jeopardy.
  • Forgot to Feed the Monster: When John Hancock and Samuel Adams can't get Chris's stereo to play them music, they think the "tiny musicians" inside haven't been fed, so they stuff oatmeal into the speakers.
  • Happy Ending Override: Dan seems to get a happy ending just two episodes in by bringing Deborah back to the present with him. The next episode is all about the ramifications of all that stuff he claimed he invented.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Paul Revere is depicted as being thoroughly unpleasant and antagonistic to the main characters.
  • I Choose to Stay:
    • At the end of the first episode, Chris stays behind to fight in the American Revolution. Dan and Deborah come back to the present and discover a statue in Chris' honor, revealing that he died in battle the following day. Subverted when they come back to save him.
    • Deborah decides to stay in the future with Dan, finding the 21st Century more to her liking.
    • After coming to the present to help Deborah buy her ice-cream shop, John Hancock and Samuel Adams decide to stay longer, especially when they meet a woman and compete for her love.
  • I'm Mr. [Future Pop Culture Reference]: Dan does this all the time. For example, when he and Chris masquerade as British spies, Dan calls himself Jason Bourne.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Chris thinks he'll be fine with the time travel as he's a history professor. He soon realizes, however, that there's a lot about the past that his history books got wrong.
  • Misapplied Phlebotinum: Dan's thought process goes: "It's a time machine! Quick, I should go to the past and be cool!"
  • Mistaken for Apocalypse: When Deborah sees an airplane for the first time, she thinks it's a flying crucifix signaling the End of Days, and starts speaking in tongues.
  • Mundane Object Amazement:
    • Ham is apparently like "cocaine-covered gold" to people in the past. Trading a ham away gets Dan released by a bunch of Redcoats in the first episode.
    • During her first brief trip to the future, Deborah is awestruck by the sight of a discarded York Peppermint Patty wrapper.
    • When John Hancock and Sam Adams are brought to the present, they are astounded by Chris's stereo system. Believing that the music they hear come from tiny musicians inside the system, they tear apart Chris's apartment looking for them.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: This appears to be the case in "Chadwick's Angels", when Dan sees his younger self get beaten up. He tries to help but an invisible barrier keeps him from interacting.
  • Politically Correct History: Subverted. It never occurs to Chris that people are going to react poorly to his skin tone until he walks into a bar and the owner immediately yells out "SLAVE!" Not to mention that Deborah's intelligence and accomplishments are completely overlooked because she's a woman.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Chris fails to understand that his plan of going back in time and betting on past sports events was already used in Back to the Future Part II, since he never saw the movies.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Dan implicitly believes that he has this when he notices a guy eating fish and chips and Starbucks advertising tea. Even by the end of the episode it's unclear if it's the case or if he just was noticing a few slightly odd moments (especially since Chris also clearly remembers the original history).
  • Stable Time Loop: In "Chadwick's Angels", Dan confronting his childhood bully inadvertently leads to said bully beating him up in the first place, while the woman Chris saves from being run over ends up running someone else in the future.
  • Ten Paces and Turn: John and Samuel have an old fashioned duel in the next to last episode. They intentionally miss and hit Dan and Chris instead. Fortunately, they were using paint guns.
  • Those Two Guys: Dan regularly pops back to 1775 for advice from John Hancock and Samuel Adams, who are basically a couple of frat boys.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Whichever time travel setup is more convenient for the current episode or even just the current joke, that's the one the show will go with.

Alternative Title(s): Making History