Discuss the Best and Worst TV Time Jumps: Which Shows Do You Think Were Successful in Skipping Ahead?


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 AliasSons of AnarchyDesperate HousewivesLost (LOL), FringeDawson's Creek, Sherlock, and Damages—which ones do you think were the most successful?


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Mar 12, 2016
For all the non-jump shows being mentioned, I just gatta say this:
there was a show, it was on tv. The season finale aired in May, then the next season started with the kids in the next grade at school.
Like, they time jumped the entire summer! My, My!
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Mar 14, 2015
yes fringe too

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Mar 14, 2015
one tree hill. dawson's creek.
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May 26, 2014
Weeds had a 5-7 year time jump on its final episode of the series. It was a very poor way to end what had been a pretty great story. That was a real fail.
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May 04, 2014
I didn't feel True Blood's time jump was handled that badly..But you're right the Tara as Toni bit was awful...however I liked her gf at the time she seemed ok, altho Pam and Tara are GREAT together..
I for one am sad this is TB's last season and that they're only filming 10 eps again.. As the mother of a very busy 1 yr old I can understand Anna wanting to be there with her baby, but c'mon guys u could have at least done 12 eps, esp since it's the last season..
They'd better not have actually killed Eric so anticlimactically as they did in the season finale...the show runners have teased that Eric might come back in like flashbacks or something, and that would really piss me the fuck off..Eric better be alive. Also not happy when I heard Luke Grimes would not be returning as James, he was great that in that part...
We'll see what happens, but I'd love for TB to really rock my socks off like it did in the early seasons..

As far as Lost goes, they skipped all over the damn place in that show so the major time jumps didn't really phase me much.. I've actually been thinking about re-watching Lost, I've thought about it on several occasions over the last few years, but then I think about how it ended and I get mad.

More+
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Apr 29, 2014
Amazing to hear talk from Michael Schur about how much he would love to see Michelle Obama appear again. I can't see that happening now that they've moved it to 2017, when the Obamas will be out of office. They would probably treat the audience as if they're stupid and ignore continuity, unfortunately.

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Apr 29, 2014
I don't see why Parks and Rec has to end next year to begin with. NBC is desparate and has no other sitcoms to air. Based on the producers' attitude toward changing the cast, I would argue the show has great potential to keep going. Even if Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, or Adam Scott left, I would feel as though they could immediately introduce a new character and reshape the show in a successful way. The show should keep going!

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Apr 29, 2014
Parks and Rec really never needed much of a time jump; maybe a year for the pregnancy. I feel that continuity is going to take a big hit and how on earth are they going to make references and cameos by current politicians.
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Apr 29, 2014
Young Justice did a good job of it.
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Apr 28, 2014
Fringe
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Apr 28, 2014
Kind of a short list :S
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Apr 28, 2014
My absolute favorite time-jump was Transformers (original G1).
Sure, skipping ahead 20 years between S2 and the Movie has left fans craving for those untold stories. But advancing the show into a galactic epic was phenomenal, and gave us a brand new level of story that surpassed even its own high bar.

'Till All Are One!
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Apr 28, 2014
BSG was a great one, it changed the show from just running away with much better special effects to something we couldn't predict from week to week. The Gallactica wasn't going to escape every week because it wasn't trying to.
Supernatural's jumps between seasons is nicely done when they use it. If the season long problem was been resolved, we don't need to see everything the boys do until the next big thing happens. And the writers realized that too.
But Parks and Rec could be better than both. They started the show with Leslie already at her job, and we learned who everyone was and what they did a little at a time. And now after 6 seasons, we may be spending time being re-introduced to them again. Is Donna married? Is Andy still a child entertainer? Who replaced Leslie in the Pawnee Parks department? Did April go back to Vet school or did she stay in the government job? Does Ann ever visit? And how many of the girls named after her and joe Biden?
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Apr 28, 2014
I liked:

Six Feet Under - Time Jumps between Season 2 & 3
Sherlock & LOST

By-the-by, I wasn't too upset with True Blood's time jump, in fact as long as they keep the show moving it really can do no wrong, in my eyes... Sure it's trashy as hell and more than a little ridiculous but damn is it ENTERTAINING!
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Apr 28, 2014
Lost & Fringe were pretty smart in that sense too
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Apr 28, 2014
I found the pseudo-time jumps of Crossing Jordan ( season 1 to 2 and then into 3 as well) jarring. Relationships ended, characters just inexplicably stopped showing up, yet no time was 'lost" to give explanation or even opportunity for those things to have happened.
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Apr 28, 2014
The finale of Six Feet Under, best time ever jump on a TV show.
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Apr 28, 2014
For me, it's always been ALIAS. That time jump in the season 2 finale blew my mind.
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Apr 28, 2014
The only thing it was missing was the gratuitously universal and mandatory revelation for Sidney that,
"wait... my father is ...evil!"
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Apr 28, 2014
One of the best cliffhangers ever, in my opinion.
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Apr 28, 2014
Vikings jumped 5 years between S1 & 2. It was great and didn't make viewers feel they had missed out.
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Apr 28, 2014

All this talk about time jumps gets me thinking of time stalls like Breaking Bad. Supposedly it takes place during two years. Vince Gilligan admitted he made a mistake by dating it by making the quote "whacking Bin Laden" wasn't this easy.
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Apr 28, 2014
Time jumps aren't bad at all. The problem is that they rarely attempt to make it match current time. If a show skips 5 years but it appears to be only the next year in terms of trends, pop culture, etc. then I have a problem with it.


I still haven't been able to get a complete handle on Damages' time jump. What year was it during season 3? Why does it appear to be the current year during season 4 and 5 when it has in fact jumped three years? I just wish shows would get a hold on these things for those of us that want continuity.

24 was always confusing to so many people. They finally started to claim the show took place in "the not so distant future". I guess that kind of freed it up a little, thank God. And I don't really want to know Jack's age. If I go by info provided in the past i'll start questioning whether or not he should be in a nursing home and not running down the street chasing terrorists.

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Apr 29, 2014
By the final season Jack must've been in his seventies.
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Apr 28, 2014
On One Tree Hill:

I don't see why so many of these shows are afraid of the college years. The truth is shows don't have to transfer the entire show into a college replica of the high school years. In real life, most people don't do that. They go straight into the real world anyway. Often in order to fund college to begin with and many others skip it entirely. If it's not interesting to begin with they don't even have to show it and can instead refer to it.

I don't think the idea of shows getting lost when the characters get to college is true, though. It's more myth than anything. I remember Boy Meets World had it's best seasons when characters started going to college...until characters got married.
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Apr 28, 2014
it's -- contraction of it is
its -- possesive form
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Apr 27, 2014
Reading the comments I'm really frustrated by all the hate fringe got for it's season 5. Back in season 3 the show runners said that they pitched a 3 year plan for fringe finale seasons, which FOX loved . Meaning the planned for 6 seasons. Unfortunately Fringe was on the bubble basically since it's move to Fridays in the middle of season 3.
The last 3 episodes of season 4 were very rushed and cramped A LOT of stuff because they weren't sure they'd be back for another season. And when FOX let Fringe end with another 13 episodes they were still 31 episodes short of what they planned.
I personally think Fringe is one of the most planed out network TV series in ages, and I think they ended amazing with the time they got!
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Apr 28, 2014
it's -- contraction of it is
its -- possessive form
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Apr 28, 2014
Personally, I don't think the time jump itself was the problem of Fringe's season 5. There was was that nothing apart observers and recurring cast to connect 203? to 201?. Henrietta could have been used as a spawn conceived while Olivia was still under the effects of Cortexiphan. That would have been a great explanation why Observers couldn't read her mind and she would have been a better weapon than any child observer.
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Apr 28, 2014
I actually liked that they killed her off. I was dissapointed with how quickly they finished the Petereserver arc. But again, they didn't have enough episodes.
I love Fringe from start to finish. And the finale really satisfied me and gave closure. Honestly they couldn't finish the series off in any kind of way other than Walter sacrificing himself for a better future for Peter, Olivia and Henrietta.
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Apr 27, 2014
Alias did it best, followed by BSG and Fringe
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Apr 27, 2014
LOST and Fringe were the best of all.
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Apr 27, 2014
I hated the almost one-year jump of Michonne and Andrea traipsing abouit zombified Georgia on The Walking Dead, mostly because I had been super intrigued by the cliff hanger in which Michonne appears with her weird zombie slaves missing jaws and arms. Andrea said something like I´ve been saving your ass for almost a year and that was that. Seeing them meet and come to trust each other would have been interesting.
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Apr 27, 2014
24 has time jumps between seasons, Angel had time jump & the "father" of time jumps Doctor Who (not because of the time travel, there are a lot of time jumps in the story)

Agree about Alias, Fringe, One Tree Hill, Battlestar Galactica.
True Blood was bad, that whole season was underwhelming

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Apr 28, 2014
I don't recall Angel time jump. When was it?
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Apr 28, 2014
I think Rebecca is referring to Connor's disappearance as a baby and return as a teen on the cusp of adulthood (less of a time jump for the series than for a single character)
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Apr 28, 2014
You are right.
Good catch! :)
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Apr 29, 2014
Actually I meant when Angel was buried at sea & Cordelia went to "heaven" But the Connor thing is a good one too
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Apr 29, 2014
This comment has been removed.
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Apr 27, 2014
A nice time jump happened in Desperate Housewives, at the start of season 5. Lots of things changed, yet so many things were still as they had always been. The additions were well worth the jump (Gaby and Caros having children, to name one), the Wisteria kids had grown and gave their parents all the hussle and bustle of puberty and of course the relationships between the residents is still a source of amusument and wonder. Yup, definitely one of my favorites time jumps!
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Apr 28, 2014
My big problem was that they all seemed like the same characters. Usually they'll have changed during the intervening time and DH didn't feel that way. Granted I only watched the first few eps of that season to see how it played out so maybe once more of the intervening years were filled in it worked better?
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Apr 28, 2014
Hi Shadowlands69, to me that was the appealing part. It was like 'coming home'. I'm not sure people change that much if no major events occur in their lives. So I was quite happy with how it turned out. The kids growing up was really nice, and still their parents are old friends to us. That felt very familiar. :-)
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Apr 27, 2014
24 has time jumps between seasons & also the "father" of time jumps Doctor Who (not because of the time travel, there are a lot of time jumps in the story)
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Apr 27, 2014
fringeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
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Apr 27, 2014
I didm't really like the jump-ahead in Parks and Rec. I could get 1 year but 3? 1 year would be enough for them to skip the whole pregnancy storyline if that's what they were thinking. Although i read one of the creators interview where he said: "Part of the reason that we could feel like we could make a creative jump like this is because the show isn't going to be on for five more years. This is certainly part of the end game." Which sucks.
But i'm sure i'll love it anyway.
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Apr 27, 2014
Weeds had a really good one, too.
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Apr 27, 2014
I liked the time jump of Prison Break, one in the finale. It made me quite emotional though, but I think it was necessary for the show . And it made the viewers to accept that The show is over now. No hopes for any next season.

Ma second best is time jump in Fringe , which was also good.
Also Time Jump in LOST was also marveling..
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Apr 27, 2014
Ghost Whisperer skipped ahead quite a few years, which I thought worked out very well. No need to watch the toddler years of her baby and the med school struggles of her husband.
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Apr 28, 2014
Or that actor switch for that other kid...that confused the hell out of me :l
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Apr 27, 2014
And there was Supernatural which was done well.
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Apr 27, 2014
Alias's first time jump, wherein Sydney lost her memories was brilliant! The second one that has Syd go from 'I'm pregnant' to 'about to pop' and that entire mess of season 5 was just terrible.

The less said about Fringe's final season the better. Their 'letters from the future' episode was an excellent one off that had me in tears, but basing the whole final season off this? Noooope!
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Apr 27, 2014
And of course there was The Walking Dead, imagine a whole season of them running around during the winter. And if I remember correctly 4400's time jump was also done well.
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Apr 28, 2014
When did 4400 time jump?
do you mean between S1 & S2?
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Apr 27, 2014
Fringe,one of the best. I mean they even had, for lack of a better term, pre-flash backs or showing the future, returning to the present then next season years after the end of the fourth season ( if that makes sense)
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Apr 27, 2014

Was there only 3? Or a I missing part of the article? Worst time jump: Desperate Housewives. I am a sucker for flashbacks, but that was the worst.
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Apr 27, 2014
The end of the 2nd season of ALIAS was WTF maybe the best time jump and well controlled.
Fringe along with Lost and Game of Thrones are my favorite shows so I liked everything Fringe tried to introduce us.
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Apr 26, 2014
Worst time jump.... how this article skipped to the end during mid-thought....
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Apr 26, 2014
Boy Meets World had a great time jump. NOT! Actually it was never fully explained.
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Apr 26, 2014
Loved Parks and Rec time jump it was unexpected and perfect! And Fringe was amazing with the time jump as well♡ But the best time jumps have to be in Futurama whether be it 1000 years in the future, an entire life time as a couple, or 3 universe existances in a row.
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Apr 26, 2014
I loved the time jump on Fringe, going into a completely different society and storylines for the final season, that was really well done - especially considering that it is the last season and could easily have wrecked it by making it feel disconnected.

Eureka has done some nice work with changing realities, as a sidenote, considering as it is not actually a time jump even though it did involve jumping through time ;)
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Apr 26, 2014
Fringe's last season was a disaster that negated everything that have been happening that far. A black and white fight against evil observers? Please!
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Apr 28, 2014
Rewatch episode 14 of season 1. Walter gives a speech in which he bqsically lays out the course of the entire show. So, yeah, in spite of its lack of time, this show is basically perfect.
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Apr 30, 2014
Fringe was always overrated, but up until the last season it was watchable.
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Apr 26, 2014
One Tree Hill and Fringe did it good.

Continuum has sort of jumped in time, and it's not for the better IMO.
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Apr 26, 2014
Fringe: I loved it, last season was sad but henrietta and walter in the future was awesome.
Alias!!!! I could not believe that, I mean, Vaughn got married??? WTF???? I was as shocked as sidney was. I miss alias such an awesome show, except season 5
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Apr 26, 2014
Eureka's season 1 finale. Gave us an idyllic future where everything worked out, and then took it away from us in a very tragic manner.
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Apr 26, 2014
Not sure if it strictly qualifies as a timejump a sit was more of a time-accelerator but the closing scene of Six Feet Under was incredibly powerful. I think I cried.

I really liked the timejump in Alias because apart from the time lapse it threw the show into a great conspiracy. It was heart breaking and angsty but it it definitely upped the stakes.

I also liked the time jump in Bones after season 5 with Booth coming back with a new girlfriend. Not only the team got back together (no surprises there) but on the romantic side of the show it really upped the drama...
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Apr 27, 2014
Oh yeah, I for got about Bones. I agree, it worked out well!
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Apr 28, 2014
Was that really a time jump or just not showing what happened during the summer?
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Apr 26, 2014
Come to think of it, the original BSG also did a time jump when it became the unbelievably bad Galactica 1980 - I suppose this informed the modern series on the notion, especially Starbuck's arc there.

Larson also helmed another '70s sci-fi show that did a time jump, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (and I'm not talking about how Buck got there in the first place). Season 2 moved the whole setting and premise, somehow the war from season 1 now just gone.

Ugh, I watched too many reruns as a kid in the '80s.
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Apr 26, 2014
Wonder Woman - how does she go from fighting in WW2 to fighting in modern-day 1970s, and Steve Trevor is still there but it's his son who somehow should have existed when Diana met Steve in the '40s? That was strange.
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