NBC (Sun., July 17, 9 p.m. ET)
So what if CBS has failed in recent history with two shows about travel to different times and dimensions? Now NBC gives it a whirl with this summer movie of the week. Bruce Abbott plays a 21st-century cop who lives in the shadow of his great-grandfather, a legendary L.A. cop who invented neat crime-stopping gadgets, saved men in a tunnel explosion and published a book of pithy police sayings. Abbott travels back to 1988 and meets his ancestor, who turns out to be a nerdy nebbish played by Bill Maher. Abbott tells Maher about the things Maher will invent. Abbott also puts Maher’s published platitudes into Maher’s mouth and tells him that he has to save those men in that tunnel. Our minds are supposed to be blown: Like, wow, man, which came first, the present or the future? Problem is, Back to the Future did a better job of posing that question in its title than this show does in its two hours. That’s not to say that Time doesn’t have its charm. Abbott and Maher make a likable buddy duo. Rock’s Adam Ant, following Sting’s footsteps into the footlights, has a ball playing an evil murderer with metallic hair. And the show has a neat view of how TV news will look 200 years from now. There is imagination here, but it is held prisoner by this unimaginative idea for a show.