Monday, April 07, 2008

Will Voyagers Ever Come Back Again?

Don’t you wish they would remake Voyagers? For a series that ended too soon because of the tragic death of star Jon-Erik Hexum, it has stayed with me for well over 25 years. According to Wikipedia the series premiered on NBC, October 3, 1982.

My memory is not as good as I believe it to be. I remember the reason the show was cancelled was because of Hexum’s accidental death, shooting himself with a prop gun on the set. He did die of a self inflicted gunshot wound playing with a prop—according to reports he jokingly held the gun up to his head and pulled the trigger—but it was on the set of his new show, Cover Up, not Voyagers, as the earlier show had already been cancelled.

During a break in filming, Hexum was fed up with long delays and as he was known to do, was careless with his prop gun. He held it up to his temple in a mock gesture and pulled the trigger. The wound killed him, but not instantaneously. While the wading in the blank that comes out after the gun is discharged did not actually enter his brain, the force was enough to break off pieces of his skull, which resulted in his death after six days in a coma and being declared brain-dead.

So while my memory of events that led to Hexum’s death was screwed up, I do remember the actual show as being quite good. Hexum played Phineas Bogg, member of a time traveler society. He “accidentally” leaps (wait, wrong time-traveling show), no his malfunctioning Omni takes him to the room of one Jeffrey Jones where after a series of zany events results in Bogg loosing his Guidebook and taking Jones with him in time. The “accident” was that Bogg traveled into 1982, past the Omni’s limit of 1970.

With no Guidebook (a time-traveler’s bible in that it tells him how events are supposed to go throughout history) and no way to get Jones back, the two become traveling companions. Jones’ late father was a history professor. Surprisingly, he was an attentive son with a photographic memory who remembers the exact events in history, while Bogg is a womanizing, roguish, card playing, time traveling, surrogate male role model.

What was great about the series was the fact that the Omni, the lack of a Guidebook, Bogg’s womanizing or some time-traveling enemy managed to screw things up every episode. It also had some good costuming (from what I remember) and Hexum made for an appropriately costumed, former pirate, recruited to a career in time leaping. Also, at the end of every episode they encouraged you to find out more about the time period of great historical figure featured in the show by taking “a voyage down to your public library. It's all in books!"

Also, the Omni was this great, pocket watch type of device. It looked like it was straight out of some Jules Verne tale (hinted at by Hexum’s character’s name being derived from Phileas Fogg, Verne’s novel Around the World in Eighty Days), all brassy and very authentic looking. It was designed to fit in almost every time period and under the cover—inscribed with the words "Time Waits For No Man"—was a clockwork-like façade of a globe and dials and such. It glowed red when history was askew and green when all was right once again, usually right before the credit or, not if it was a cliffhanger. And of course there was the missing Guidebook, with all of history written down, as it was meant to be.

With the way things are going for them in the remake and sequel department, I think Steven Spielberg should attack this one right after Indy 4 and Transformers 2 comes out. It has that child-like sense of wonder and history that Spielberg excels at and I always thought of Bogg as a pseudo-Indiana Jones anyway.

Now hurray! The 20 original episodes of Voyagers were released in 2007 as a 4-DVD set. If I can find it, I’m snatching it up. One can only hope that Voyagers lives up to the test of time.


Anonymous said...

Honestly, I never liked the show - even when I was older and saw the repeats on the SciFi channel.
I'm sorry to say I don't have any fond memories of the show - in fact, my only memory I have is of the pair flying through time in a very silly manner.

Not knowing before that it ended because of the death of an actor, I now feel somehow guilty.

Anonymous said...

I should read the whole article before I try to comment.
It was cancelled BEFORE his death.

I no longer feel like it was my fault.

Still sucks though (the death).

Frank Anthony Polito said...

For more on Jon-Erik Hexum and Voyagers, check out my post on the 25th anniversary of Hexum's tragic death

VoyagerG said...

I would definitely love to see what they do with a Voyagers! remake. :D But I love the original, don't think anyone can replace Jon-Erik Hexum. And Meeno Peluce was cute too, a great child actor. Bogg and Jeff will always be those two for me.

Anonymous said...

Come on, Let's remake it already!