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Having flown back a few days ago from The Mars Society Convention in Pasadena, and time-travel being my all-time favorite genre, how could I resist watching the nine-and-a-half minute sneak preview of Manifest, a series about a plane that travels instantly through time from 2013 to 2018, to debut on NBC at the end of September?
Airplanes have been vehicles of the very best time travel, from "The Odyssey of Flight 33" on The Twilight Zone in 1961 to John Varley's brilliant 1981 novel, Millennium. Can the NBC series possibly live up to this?
Under ten minutes is not much time to tell, but I'd say Manifest has a fair shot of doing this—of finally telling a time travel story on network television in the same league as the very different Quantum Leap, now decades old. The key to any good story is memorable character development. From what I saw on YouTube, where you too can see this sneak preview—I've posted the video below—the people in this story are real and appealing.
But it's still too soon to say for sure. We'll know more after the first episode, after which I'll be back here with a full review. And even then, the history of television is littered with great debuts that never went anywhere, or flew way off course. I'm hopeful that that won't happen with Manifest, where the flying of course already took place, but through time as well as space.
See you here in about 30 days.