I recently watched a couple of shows (see Consumptions section below) that explore time travel themes. The protagonists travel back and forth in time, affecting their timelines. This reminded me of Choose Your Own Adventure books and a personal CYOA real-life story.
As a teenager, I loved reading Choose Your Own Adventure books, interactive works by Edward Packard. In these books, the reader, at the bottom of each page, is presented with two choices leading to more binary decisions with varied consequences. CYOA books have multiple endings and your job as the reader is to make the best decisions on behalf of the protagonist
It’s summer 2006, and I am at Carlisle train station, waiting for my connecting train to Newcastle, having just completed a job interview for a research assistant role at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN). My phone rings with a job offer from UCLAN, and at the same time, I receive a call from the University of Sheffield, where I had interviewed two days earlier. I ask UCLAN for 48 hours to decide and do the same with Sheffield when they offer me a research role. If Sheffield hadn’t called at the same time as UCLAN, I would have immediately accepted UCLAN’s offer. This crucial moment of simultaneous calls profoundly influences my decision, eventually leading me to choose Sheffield and turn down UCLAN’s offer.
Choosing Sheffield led to meeting my wife and influenced a significant branch of my life, including the people I met thereafter. A decision for UCLAN would have created a different timeline. Many decisions have shaped my life, but none as distinctly binary as that moment at Carlisle train station.
The poem The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost captures this sentiment. Here are the first and last stanzas of the poem.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Bodies – A Netflix sci-fi limited series set in London, spanning four distinct timelines (1890, 1941, 2023 and 2053). It features four detectives investigating a case involving the same dead body, which is being transported through time to the same location in London.
The series excels in using a nested storytelling loop format, seamlessly transitioning the viewer from one protagonist in one timeline to another without overwhelming the viewer. The show creators also nailed the cliffhangers for the first few episodes to keep you engaged for the next one
Initially, I was reluctant to watch Bodies, but it proved to be far better than anticipated, especially given that it is adapted from a graphic novel of the same name. Graphic novels are notoriously hard to adapt to the screen, especially the small screen. Amaka Okafor as DS Shahara Hasan was a delight in Bodies.
Loki S2 – Tom Hiddleston delivers another superb performance as Loki in the second season. Season 2 builds upon the solid foundation laid in Season 1, introducing new characters and developing the narrative arcs of the main protagonists. We see more of ‘He Who Remains’ (Jonathan Majors), portraying one of his variants from the 1890s. The season concludes with a sense of finality for the entire series, although whether Tom Hiddleston returns for another season remains to be seen.
Everything that Marvel released used to be a hit but now the misses exceed the hits. I find most of the Marvel TV shows to be lacklustre and the best ones for me have been Loki and Moon Knight.
Nerdwriter’s excellent video essay discusses the challenges associated with the need to consume most of Marvel’s content to grasp its interconnected storytelling universe. This becomes problematic as the quality of Marvel’s content has been in decline.
Please share your favourite Marvel TV shows in the comments below.