The short answer is that Rewind is a mish-mash of quantum leap and sliders along with a very small dash of Stargate all run through the Star Trek episode Year of Hell and I suppose if you are going to borrow a plot from Voyager you might as well go for one of the few good ones. It was also the pilot for a potential TV series and as the series was passed on it is thus just another direct to syfy movie starring a lot of people you get the feeling you may have seen somewhere else, about a time travelling group going back to change the past to change the future. The long answer, well that’s….
…another story and not one that is in a rush to get anywhere, coming in at about an hour and fifteen minutes the show starts with the destruction of New York via a nuclear bomb and then very slowly tries to set it right. The premise is that David Cronenberg, yes that David Cronenberg, has left this bomb to be found before turning himself in. The time is counting down and after helpfully arresting himself, is not being very cooperative. Shaun Knox the kind of stubble wearing, ex-special forces guy you need in this sort of situation heads in and tries to get some answers. He gets a dramatic ring drop, the best outside the shire, and little else. As the last man in with him, the blame is pinned on him when the nuke explodes and while others get on with mourning he gets shoved in jail cell to wait for a verdict for the next month. Despite being locked up he is allowed full access to Cronenberg’s work; probably going for ‘Videdrome’ or ‘The Fly’.
This makes him the closest to an expert on the subject and thus before a verdict can be reached he is whisked away to a secret military bunker to take part in a top secret project. It seems that America has access to a small rip in time and space, that though stable on their end moves around the world and through time at a series of random intervals. It’s difficult to tell exactly how long they have been studying this as they seem to know a fair bit but there is the typical pilot like scene where we see people moving stuff around and fitting bulbs in the secret military complex.
America has come up with a plan to go back in time and change the past so that New York still stands. Though there are two twists to this, the first is that it’s confirmed that Cronenberg knew about this and thus the easiest way to make sure that he never plants that bomb is to save his wife, meaning that the whole story is about caving in to terrorist demands, if posthumously. The second is that they are trying to minimise the butterfly effect and thus trying to make sure that they only change the one thing and not inadvertently allow Hitler to come to power or make Justin Bieber the most popular singer in the world via dropping a chocolate wrapper or something.
When a portal opens to the 1920’s the team figure that this is probably the best shot they are going to get and must thus try and figure out how to get what they want, despite being a few decades before Cronenberg and his wife were born.
Now the cast is rounded out with Knox teaming up with the Sam Carter of the group, though with a little less bite, and a support staff with a scientist, drone controller, a historical expert and an other. What Charlie’s job is in fact I don’t think is ever really explained, let’s just call him the intern. The drone controller is the older member of the team who sends his named fly size bots through the portal first to try and ascertain where they are. Once this is done for some reason he doesn’t bring them home but decides to self destruct them, this means he is still better than the drone controller in Prometheus. The historical expert tries to fill the teams head with basic slang and knowledge of the era and for reasons of budget, I presume, doubles as the groups map reader. Oh and then theres the token black guy, he’s Knox’s backup I guess. I think they just shoved him in for the season of episodes they thought they were going to get so they had another character to play with before they completely rand out of ideas.
This is the basic set up for the show, with the group travelling through the portal in a trippier time travel sequence than Star Trek IV. Once there they must try and stop the future mugger of Cronenberg and his wife while not affecting the time stream at all. This adds a bit of stress and tension for the mission on top of saving the nine million lost in the blast, though for some reason often this doesn’t matter. For instance when they arrive in the past they must travel to another city to get where they need to be, this means stealing a car. Now they select a car belonging to a night shift worker with the belief that he will be not needing it for the next eight hours or so. Why they want to make sure he won’t need the car but not worry about him needing the petrol tomorrow or even worse why running a man off the road and destroying his truck doesn’t matter when they find out he is a moonshine runner. Now I get that he’s unlikely to go to the police over the incident but considering how much they go on about small changes having big effects it would have been interesting to see how a man losing his livelihood would have changed the future.
Now I won’t spoil any more in case you want to go and hunt it down but I will say that the series hook itself comes in in the last two to three minutes and if you skip that you’re left with a decent enough TV movie. I say decent, I mean passable. I say passable I mean not horrible. I say not horrible…… you get the idea.
How it would have worked as a series is slightly difficult to say, not least because of the “spoiler” but I worry that despite all of time to play in, the premise might have left it hard to explore.