On Thursday, Parks and Recreation closed out its sixth season with a three-year time jump, skipping Leslie's pregnancy and any potential "harried mother of triplets" storylines and plopping us down right in the middle of some big drama that's plaguing the National Park Service. Plenty of TV shows have made similar time jumps. Some have been surprises, like Parks' was; others have been announced, like the jump that Glee will be taking between Seasons 5 and 6. Sometimes a time jump feels integral to a show's storytelling arc; sometimes it feels like a thinly veiled way for a show's writers to start over after running out of steam. So which shows have successfully skipped a year or three? And which ones flopped in the process? Below, I've named two shows that nailed the time jump and one that botched it, according to moi. Share your own opinions in the comments!
BEST: Battlestar Galactica
Parks and Rec creator Mike Schur told Hitfix that BSG's time jump was his personal inspiration for pushing Leslie and Ben and the rest of the Pawnee gang into 2017. It's a good example of how, when used properly, the time jump can be an asset to the story. In the Season 2 finale, Gaius Baltar put his head down on his desk—and when he picked it up, a year had passed. The Cylons had found New Caprica, and Baltar had surrendered. By skipping over that first year on New Caprica, BSG didn't have to bother with what could've been a boring settlement storyline, allowing it to get right back into the action with a Cylon occupation and human resistance. Other developments that occurred during the year we didn't see: several marriages, Colonel Tigh ending up with an eyepatch, and Lee Adama getting fat. Two things: 1.) Jamie Bamber in a fat suit was simultaneously the best thing and the worst thing that ever happened to BSG, and 2.) the time jump smartly allowed BSG's writers plenty of room to return at a later date to the events of that first night on the ground, which changed several characters' trajectories.
WORST: True Blood
True Blood's time jump in the Season 4 premiere was necessary—because of the way the series was structured and its penchant for cliffhangers, most of the action up until that point had covered a very short amount of time in Sookie's life. But the way it was written made it one of the dumbest jumps in history. Sookie disappeared into fairyland for what felt like an hour to her, but when she returned, a year had gone by in Bon Temps. That's probably one of my least-favorite tropes about dimension-jumping, btw—time passing at different speeds! Anyway, when Sookie returned, she learned alongside the rest of us that Jason had become a cop, Bill had gotten a terrible haircut, and Eric had bought Sookie's house. Oh yeah, and there were witches! But perhaps the most offensive development was that Tara had relocated to New Orleans and become a cage-fighter named Toni. WHAT? WHY? STOP. The first rule of time jumps is that what's on the other side has to be compelling enough to warrant the skip. And this was not.
BEST: One Tree Hill
This might be one the only time I ever put One Tree Hill on a "best" list that isn't about the prettiest criers on television (lookin' at you, Sophia Bush!), but it's true. The teen soap opted to skip its characters' college years, and it's probably the smartest decision the series ever made. The transition from high school to college is a known killer of successful teen dramas; the real-life transition to adulthood is hard enough, and making it work on television is even harder. By jumping more than four years into the future, One Tree Hill was able to start over and give its characters a clean slate. It was easy to fill in the gaps, like Lucas's book (LOL) and Brooke's company, and viewers were spared the baby drama with Haley and Nathan (although I'd like pour bleach on my brain in order to permanently forget Nathan's long hair). It also meant the actors were finally playing characters closer to their actual age, which made them much more believable.
Other recent shows that've featured significant time jumps include Alias, Sons of Anarchy, Desperate Housewives, Lost (LOL), Fringe, Dawson's Creek, Sherlock, and Damages—which ones do you think were the most successful?