REVIEW: ‘Timewasters’ Is A Hilarious And Innovative Take on Time Travel

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Timewasters

Timewasters is an IMDb TV original series, produced by CBS Studios and created by Daniel Lawrence Taylor. Taylor also stars in the series as Nick, the trumpet player in a band. One day, Nick discovers an elevator that also happens to be a time machine. Along with the other members of his band which include his sister Lauren (Adelayo Adedayo), womanizer Jason (Kadiff Kirwan), and ultra-positive Horace (Samson Kayo)-Nick is transported to the 1920s, where he and his band members pass themselves off as a jazz quartet. Along the way, they deal with racism in its various forms, as well as another misadventure that lands them in 1950’s Britain.

In addition to serving as Timewasters‘ creator and lead, Taylor also co-wrote both seasons with Barunka O’Shaughnessy. Their wit is evident from the series’ pilot episode “The Jazz Age,” which opens with the aptly named “Homeless Pete” (John Stoate) leading the band to the time machine-which just happens to be in an elevator. Taylor and O’Shaughnessy mine untold amounts of humor from the premise of four Black musicians being stuck in the past, with the band naming themselves the “Wu-Tang Clan” and even playing jazz covers of songs such as Outkast’s “Hey Ya” and Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack.” Yes, that’s a thing that happens and yes it’s as glorious as you’d expect.

The usual time travel tropes are also brought up, including “not changing the past”-as you might have guessed, these rules are broken fairly early on. As befitting most time travel stories, a reference to Back to the Future is made when Nick expresses disbelief in the second season that none of the other band members have seen the film (with Horace saying that his grandmother didn’t allow him to see movies that didn’t center Black people.) This is a huge contrast to Amazon’s previous series Them, which more or less hammered its audience with the trauma it inflicted on its Black protagonists; seeing Black characters in a show that centers them and allows them to be funny is a nice change of pace.

Timewasters also takes a unique approach to the racism of the 1920s, actually managing to pull humor from the band’s interactions with various white citizens. At first glance, the band members manage to land a sweet deal when they are approached by twin socialites Victoria (Liz Kingsman) and Ralph (Joseph Quinn) who invite them to live in their mansion after playing at a gig. Things go south as Nick is almost abducted by a eugenics-driven cult who wants to experiment on him for his “knowledge” and Jason strikes up a relationship with Victoria-who fetisizhes him in nearly every line of dialogue she has.

This comes to a head in the Season 1 episode “Follow Your Dreams,” where Victoria throws an Egyptian-themed party that has Jason wearing nothing but a loincloth. Watching the uneasy looks on the band’s faces and the majorly white party guests prance around as if nothing was wrong reminded me of the supremely racist antebellum parties that continue to be thrown by people who should know better.

A large part of what makes the series work is the cast’s performances, particularly Taylor, Adedayo, and Kirwan. Taylor is fairly level-headed as Nick, though he starts to break down the longer the band is trapped in the past. Kirwan also gets to shin in both comedic and dramatic turns, as Jason’s womanizing ways are what lead to the band traveling back in time and eventually catch up with him. However, Adedayo is the standout as Lauren-she has all of the best lines, and one of the more interesting plotlines in the Season 1 episode”Men Only.”

The episode sees Lauren, fed up with being dismissed as part of the band having to play gigs at a men’s only club, slowly take control of the band thanks to egging on from her new friend Rose. However, Rose isn’t what she seems-and serves as a reminder of how White women can co-opt a Black woman’s movement. Yet Lauren thankfully isn’t punished for her ambition, with the other band members welcoming her back with open arms-another change of pace that I enjoyed.

Timewasters manages to put a hilarious and innovative spin on the time travel genre, courtesy of its star and creator Daniel Lawrence Taylor. With A Black Lady Sketch Show‘s Lauren Ashley Smith slated to develop a U.S. adapation of the series for ABC, my hopes are high that the U.S. version will retain the same wit and energy that made the original version an engaging watch.

Both seasons of Timewasters are available to stream on IMDb TV via Amazon Prime.

 

Timewasters
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Timewasters manages to put a hilarious and innovative spin on the time travel genre, courtesy of its star and creator Daniel Lawrence Taylor. With A Black Lady Sketch Show‘s Lauren Ashley Smith slated to develop a U.S. adapation of the series for ABC, my hopes are high that the U.S. version will retain the same wit and energy that made the original version an engaging watch.