Andy's Anachronisms Logo

Time Travel Television Series


P r i n c i p a l   C a s t
  Dr. Thomas Mason
George Newbern
Anne LeGuernec
Robert Knepper
S y n o p s i s

George R.R. Martin's failed television pilot, Doorways, features Cat (Anne Le Guernec) as a fugitive from an alternate universe that escapes into our own world. Cat is on the run from Thane (Robert Knepper) when Dr. Thomas Mason (George Newbern) befriends her after police bring her to the hospital. Cat and Thomas are forced to escape through one of the doorways that link the various parallel worlds when later cornered by Thane.

T r a v e l l i n g  B e t w e e n   D i m e n s i o n s

The doorways which transport the characters between worlds are similar to the portals in Time Bandits which appear for a limited time at different locations. Cat has an electronic device which can predict the location and timing of the next gateway opening.

R e v i e w

I had the rare opportunity to view this pilot at the 61st Annual Science Fiction World Convention in Toronto where George R.R. Martin was the guest of honour. Martin presented the 90-minute pilot (that's 90 minutes TV time not running time) during one panel and spent some time discussing its tortured development. Originally developed in late 1991 by ABC, and filmed in 1992, the series missed being considered for the fall schedule because of its late completion. Potentially considered as mid-series replacement, the pilot was eventually dropped from the 1993 fall schedule in favour of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. The pilot episode of Doorways, which was also sold to foreign markets in a two-hour format, has since been released on video as a "TV-movie". Martin readily admitted the two-hour version is padded to meet the running time.

After ABC failed to pick up the pilot due to a network shuffle in management, Martin and Columbia Pictures shopped the episode around to the other networks. None of which were interested. Coincidently, Fox Network developed a similarly themed show for its 1995 season called Sliders.

Doorways has its share of flaws, most noticeably weak special effects and stunts which are largely due to budgetary constraints. Martin claims the effects would have been cleaned up had the pilot got picked up. However, the acting and script show strong potential. The first alternate universe they are transported to resembles a low-tech post-apocalyptic world in which we soon learn that all plastics and petroleum-based products have vanished. Genetically modified bacteria designed to eat oil from oil spills apparently got out of control. While not critical to the plot the premise does give the world a unique feel with horse drawn vehicles, hot air balloons, and bicycles being the main modes of transport ion.

Cat and Thomas narrowly evade Thane on this world and escape through another doorway. The final scene has them atop of an alternate universe Mount Rushmore with faces of Susan B. Anthony, Benjamin Franklin, Davey Crockett and a Native American figure instead of the more familiar faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln. The special effects of this scene are particularly atrocious, which Martin attributes to the fact that the director Peter Werner insisted that a 3D model be built to accommodate the type of shot he wanted. Martin had wanted to use a matte painting, which had been the original concept.

While George R.R. Martin admits the "wheelbarrows full of money" were an attractive incentive to working in television, he soon realized that his true passion lay in writing novels. Martin had previously worked on Beauty and Beast first as a writer, then script editor and finaly as an executive producer. Following this final stage in his television career trying to develop his own series such as Doorways he returned to writing novels full-time.

You may also be interested in "GRRM: a rretrospective" published in 2003 by Subterranean Press. It contains Over 400,000 words. More than 1,000 pages, including nine novellas, unpublished teleplays, rare, never before collected short stories, and a small volume's worth of introductions and commentary. Including the Doorways pilot/ first draft, which is NOT the pilot that was eventually produced.

R e l a t e d   L i n k s
Official George R. R. Martin Website

The author's offical website, complete with bibliography, merchandise for sale, and a list of upcoming signings.

Doorways at Internet Movie Database

Internet Movie Database entry for Doorways includes cast and crew listing, plot summary, and user comments.

Return to Andy's Anachronisms Home

Return to Television Review Index

Review Posted: 2003-09-27