Time Trax~A cool concept and underrated series




This evening I was browsing through my old VHS collection and found a tape I recorded in 1998. I was ecstatic because earlier in the week I was yet again 'fanning the flames' of another old crush I had. This time on a dreamy-faced and very good and under-used actor, Dale Midkiff. Tall and lanky, but muscular and broad shouldered, with a smoldering, yet sensitive gaze that can melt butter, Dale was always high on my HOT list.


He is just a natural–charming, with a booming, yet mild tenor-like voice, speckled with a slight country boy accent. (He's from Maryland) Dale got his start first playing a young 'Jock' Ewing in 'Dallas: The Early years.' Then really got cooking in 1988, playing Elvis in the TV drama, 'Elvis and Me' based on Priscilla Presley's memoirs. Right after, he starred as a heartbroken and helpless father in one of the scariest and surprisingly saddest movies I refuse to ever see again, Stephen King's "Pet Semetary."
It didn't take much to see that Dale had it. (Well, in my opinion anyway.) It being that deep-rooted charisma and talent that Jon-Erik Hexum naturally radiated, and was honing before he died.


Dale could also sing great, and even got to display that talent on Time Trax and a few other shows/movies. Check out the quick clip from Time Trax here, he's playing guitar too, though he's a bit overpowered by the female singer.
So naturally my sister and I had to watch my old tape.Which held up very well for 12 years. I know I must have taped it and completely forgot about it. It's almost like new. My sis also crushed on Dale. Yes that's a link. She made the first Dale Midkiff 'tribute' slideshows way back when Youtube first started. It's still popular!

"DUHRRR DUUHH...I'M SY FY!!"

We got some Chinese food and watched the pilot. My tape has six episodes, apparently there was a marathon on the SCI-FI channel then. This was back when it was still a good cable station and before it was spelled all dopey like- 'SyFy' and showed corny abominable snowmen and mutated CGI insect movies. Whenever I see that I think of this face on the side...

I'm hoping if I check my basement again I have another tape of episodes. I can't remember if do or not.


I don't remember the entire series and every episode quite like I do Quantum Leap or Superboy (Two series I watched faithfully in that era) but whenever it was on I always tried to watch it. I honestly think it was Dale who made it so memorable for me, otherwise I might have been a little bored. I was probably hoping for more time travel action at the time. But hey, I was only thirteen. The show actually has lots of action, and it plays out like watching a U.S Marshal chase criminals cross country. You'll understand what I mean when you read more about it below.

*My memory however, is faulty, because after viewing three more episodes, I realize, Darien runs into a number of futuristic criminals with little gadgets and gizmos they have stolen or invented from the future. Like this weapon called a 'Myriad' that the villain uses to completely vaporize the victim's brain. OUCH. But it's no muss, no fuss! If you go to the wiki page under 'Terminology and Technology' there is actually a whole list of weaponry and 'futuristic' techniques employed by the series.

To this day Time Trax remains unreleased, not surprising since it's owned by Warner Brothers. They put blocks on everything. *cough, cough* Superboy seasons 2-4 *hacking cough!*

Time Trax is a time travel series, and lo! this is a time traveling blog, I wanted to write about the show. So, enough of my blathering, let's get on with the specifics.


"It began in the future. A scientist turning to evil, a time machine called TRAX, criminals who vanish and a lawman with a mission. He has one weapon and a computer named SELMA."

SELMA: Good Morning, Captain Lambert.

"With them he will travel to a time more innocent than his own. Now he is among us. A special breed of man, a hunter, traveling through our world searching for fugitives from his own time, knowing he can not go home until he has found them all. His name is Darien Lambert and this is his story."



It is the year 2193, and over a hundred criminals became fugitives of law enforcement by traveling back in time two hundred years, using a time machine called Trax. Darien Lambert (Dale Midkiff) is a police detective who is sent back to 1993 in order to apprehend as many of the fugitives as possible.


He is assisted by the Specified Encapsulated Limitless Memory Archive, or SELMA (Elizabeth Alexander), an extremely small but very powerful computer (described as equivalent to a mainframe) disguised as an AT&T MasterCard. SELMA communicates through a hologram that takes the visual form of a prim British nanny. Her visual has to something to do with Darien's past and his long lost mother and was chosen for his familiarity and comfort.


Lambert is also equipped with an MPPT (Micro-Pellet Projection Tube) disguised as a keyless car alarm remote, which could stun the target or engulf the target in an energy field which renders him transportable to the future. Selma then executes the transmission sequence to send the criminal on his way. 


Lambert's biggest enemy is Dr. Mordecai Sahmbi (Peter Donat), who was responsible for sending the fugitives to 1993. Captain Lambert, fearing the possible consequences of altering the timeline, does not actively attempt to interfere with the natural flow of history, although he frequently leaves messages for his colleagues in 2193 (via the 'personals' sections of assorted newspapers).


The show does sway back and forth on the possibilities of parallel time lines, so that it can explain away that the future of 2193 is still 'safe' despite the fact that people are going into the past and making changes. Hey, I've used that in my stories. However, in the third episode, we see the evil Dr. Sahmbi becoming mega rich by transporting gallons of nuclear waste from 1993 to 2193 and Darien learns from his officers in the future that it is starting to affect the land and animals. So, there's no parallel time line there. However, NO Time Travel theory or show or movie is safe from faulty physics and anomalies. We just accept, forget and enjoy.

So, how's all that for a really solid premise? The only thing that might hamper this series today is that Darien is in 1993 and that dates it aesthetically. But that can't be helped. We all loved the 90's right?...right?...I'm hearing crickets...anyway!...it's not so bad. I wouldn't quite look at Darien Lambert even today and go, oh you're so 90's!!

There is a catch to this type of time travel. I actually think it adds a bit of scientific authenticity, as opposed to just pressing an omni or leaping from life to life. In Darien's futuristic world, Time Travel is taught as a very possible theory, but not many believe it. Darien did. However, the time travel program had been disbanded until Dr. Sahmbi continued experimenting underground and illegally helped these desperate criminals escape to the past, albeit for very large fees! Dr. Sahmbi's goals were quite similar to Voyager Drake's. He wanted power, in 1993 he was going to replicate his time machine and then he boasted to Darien that he would be able to conquer any century he chose.


The time traveler must prepare for travel by taking the drug known as 'Trax.' Then his/her body is ready to withstand the electromagnetic forces used to make the trip. However, a person cannot take the Trax more than twice or else they die. So they can basically only make one round trip. Exposure without ingesting the Trax is deadly, as in the case of a woman named Alyssa Knox, whom Darien was falling in love with. (Mia Sara) She was a scientist who uncovered her mentor Sahmbi's schemes and attempted to help Darien and the police capture him.


When Darien goes back to 1993, he meets Annie Knox, Alyssa's great-great grandmother, who is an F.B.I agent and helps him on blind faith. While he's attracted to her, and she to him, Darien must realize he cannot change the time-line or else Alyssa in the future will never be born. That's just my theory, it's never stated.

Aside from the futuristic special effects of the weapons and gadgets, this series relied more heavily on human drama and interactions. Quite like Voyagers. One thing that interests me was its cheery, hopeful vision of the future. For once you see a future that's not all dark and depressing, though certain elements that we enjoy today are missing. While you don't see much of it, the future portrayed a very integrated world/country where the president (Whom Darien fails to save during an assassination attempt in the pilot) looked to be from India. There literally is no more United States of America, the names of states and great cities had been changed. Darien was born in a place once called 'Chicagoland.' If you examine the clothing, it all seems to have an Asian flair as well. No ties, just Mandarin collared suits, uniforms and dresses, intermingled with cloaks and clothes reminiscent of the eighteen hundreds. The prisoners in Darien's unit wore baggy pants and black 'Chinese slippers.' Darien even seemed a little unsure of himself when he had to change into a good old pair of blue jeans before his journey.

This theme of futuristic Asian influence is seen in the TV series Firefly and its movie spin-off Serenity, where Chinese even became a mandatory language. The entire future setting in Time Trax sort of reminds me of my vision of Voyagers Headquarters, an explosive and dynamic mix of old and new. You can sort of see what I mean here.


Darien, in his hot leather jacket, rode his motorcycle across the countryside and traveled world wide looking for all these escaped individuals trying to assimilate in 1993. He ran into all kinds of dilemmas with that. To arrest or not to arrest? What about the children of these future people? What made them stand out from the crowd of the past was that in 2193, humans have achieved a level of genetic superiority. They are altogether faster and smarter.

Here's a bit more on Darien Lambert's character:

He grew up a normal child of his times: IQ 204, Speed Memorization rate 1.2 pages per second (slightly above average). He was a competent athlete. His best speed for the 100 meters was 8.6 seconds, and for the Mile Run - 3 minutes 38 seconds. His heartbeat was a normal 35 beats per minute. His life expectancy - 120 years. His lungs were average, capable of air storage up to six minutes. Beta wave training had given his generation mind control capabilities unavailable fifty years before his birth. One of these was the ability to slow down the speed of visual images reaching the brain, popularly called "time stalling". It demanded rigorous training.

He was a solitary child; he lived among his memories. He was also a patriot. He admitted this to no one, because it was out of fashion. But he had feelings for his native land, once called the United States, and knew every detail of her history. He admired her early Fugitive Retrieval Specialists, the U.S. Marshals, and wondered why in later times so many of her criminals went unpunished. This belief system took him on a career path: The International Police Academy at West Point on Hudson.


The very basic premise is similar to Quantum Leap, only Sam can jump around time, he takes other people's forms, and his hologram is not a computer, it's a real man that was prone to error and misjudgment. The movie 'Time Cop' borrowed heavily from concepts of Time Trax too and came out while Time Trax was still on the air. Ironically enough, Mia Sara starred in this too, as the wife of Van Damme's character, whom he must save in the past.

I am the biggest sucker for shows about wandering good guys with issues and missions. After Quantum Leap and the Incredible Hulk, hey, Voyagers too...Time Trax was the ultimate. I mean, it had Time Travel and a handsome nomad! So count me in to be right there on the journey. And hey, how many TV shows can claim a video game? Nice huh?


A two-season run is weak, but it's still better than one. (Sorry Voyagers!) I wish it would have lasted a bit longer, but now I just wish it were out on official DVD. You can buy the professional 'Fan Dubs' for about $50.00, but seriously, raise your hand if you're just plain tired of those? I sure am. However, as long as the fans don't get appeased, that's what they are stuck with.


So, what happened to Dale Midkiff? He continued acting in TV movies and guest spots on shows. He's fifty-one years old now, still looking fine and like all talented, under-rated male actors who hit middle age, they move on to... the Hallmark Channel! I love the Hallmark Channel. Oh, and in between Dale also starred as the wild and wooly Buck Wilmington on ABC's short-lived, (2-seasons) 'The Magnificent Seven.' I'm not a fan of westerns, but because he and Ron Perlman were on it, I caved.


 Love the 'stache! 


For the last six or seven years, Dale has played the strong, gentle and spiritual Pioneer father, Clark Davis, in the popular Love Comes Softly series, based on the novels by Jannette Oke. He was the only one of the original cast to remain in all eight films. I liked it when Katherine Heigel played Marty, the young woman he marries. I own the first two and they are my favorites. The rest are good, but as it drifts further down the ancestral line, the heart is somehow lost.


Is it just me or does it seem that future generations become more and more mediocre? At least in TV Land. Still, they are all nice, clean movies, a true breath of fresh air in these days. Most are directed by Michael Landon Jr. (The best ones) and you can definitely tell he has his father's sentimental, prairie touch. Nothing wrong with that.

So, now you know yet another of favorite Time Travel shows and small screen crushes. Give Time Trax a chance, and add it to your Time Traveling list of really cool shows.
Until next time! Many soft landings to you, Voyagers!

Comments

  1. I remember hearing about this series ,but I not sure I ever watched it. I like the idea though. I liked the Sci -Fi channel when it was showing another underrated series Starman which was another favorite of mine. I think spelling it SyFy is stupid. I have mixed feelings about Cover-Up , in some ways I would love to see it again, but it would also be sad. I would buy it if they did release it. What a great picture of Jon! Thanks Ginger . EmilyW

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  2. Thanks Emily. That picture is really great, it's one of a bunch of 'new' ones that were being sold on Ebay. They are all uploaded on the new 'Tenaflyguy.com' website another online friend created.
    I think I remember 'Starman' but I didn't really watch it. The old sci-fi channel has a special place in my heart, it's where my love for a bunch of my favorite shows developed. It was the first station I saw Voyagers, and they always had marathons that got me hooked, 'The Incredible Hulk' Quantum Leap, one of my funniest, 'Mystery Science Theater 3000' was picked up by Sci-Fi and shown there for years. Now it's a lame channel. It used to be owned by NBC, I think that's why they had the rights to show so much, even 'The Bionic woman' six million dollar man' and such. Every now and then I turn it on and there are marathons-a few weeks ago they had 'The Greatest American Hero.' But that's very rare.

    As for Cover Up, a lot of fans feel the same. I used to. I never got to see any of the later episodes with Tony Hamilton, except the first one. That is hard to watch. I expect Cover Up to NEVER be put on DVD, because of the music rights. Since 1984, the popularity of the music they used, even if it was the generic and instrumental versions of the hits, have skyrocketed to billions! They would have replace all the music or else pay the royalties. A lot of good shows and movies have had the music replaced, even their own opening credits! It's horrible. Especially in shows like Quantum Leap, where the fans remember that specific song and the scene was dependent on the music. Time Trax had generic show music, so I don't understand the hold up. Warner Bros..Pfft!!

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  3. We saw the pilot years ago when it first aired on the WB, but we never got to see more, because it was only a few days after that when our antenna got blown down in a storm, and we never bothered to replace it. We could only pull in the WB under certain conditions, so we probably never would have gotten to see much of the series anyway. Two years ago, we tried to find it on Netflix, but couldn't remember the name of it; we tried one at random to see if that was it. The one we picked? QL, which I'd never heard of before that! So, thanks for covering this;now I can tell Jordre the name of the show we're looking for!

    And here's a note you may be interested in: There's an article on Meeno Peluce on Wikipedia; one of the references linked at the end of the article is your website. Thought that was cool. ;D

    ---Jake

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  4. That's amazing you hadn't heard of QL before 2 years ago. I would have taken you for a lifelong fan! lol. It's so fun to discover "new" shows. I prefer to discover old "new" shows. :p

    Well, I only have seven episodes of Trax, I found a really good one from season 2 on another tape, it involves an Android Darien. Now I'm definitely hooked. I figure If I could watch just the first season, I'll be ready to start writing Trax fic! haha.

    Why oh Why didn't I tape this like I taped 'CHiPs' 'Quantum Leap' and 'Little House on the Prairie'? I was just rummaging through my basement and I can't believe how many VHS's I filled with those shows.
    Well, you could always buy the fan copy, but I was wrong on the price, it's $60.00 and that's a sale for this place! I don't get how they have uncut versions, unless they somehow got master copies and duplicated them. That could be it.

    If I find other fan dubs cheaper elsewhere, I'll let you know. But this place seems to be one of the hotspots for unreleased dvds. I also want to get the Man from Atlantis. That went down in price to 37.50. Oh in the next few months when I start working more hours and pay off a few little debts I can indulge a wee bit more.

    Time Trax-
    http://www.epicdvdstore.com/product.php?productid=401585

    Thanks for letting me know about the Meeno link-I *think* I was the one who put it there a long while ago. heehee.

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  5. Heh. Dale Midriff, he used to get called. :) I'd only really seen him in the Dallas prequel before Mag7 came along. That was a fun series, though. I'm a Western junkie, and I was a fan of Eric Close from Dark Skies and Now & Again, so I was a surefire viewer. It was a real shame when it ended.

    Never heard of Time Trax, though. I wonder if it didn't make it over here.

    And hello, by the way. It's finally letting me post again! I haven't been able to make the techno-gubbins work in *ages*.

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  6. Hullo swordz! So glad to see you back commenting. Midriff..that's a good one. lol. There was nothing so outstanding about Time Trax, but he made it stand out for me...and time travel is just fun. I would like to re-watch the entire Mag7 series. I don't remember a lot of it. I think it's available on DVD now. Cool.

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