Andy's Anachronisms
Time Travel Television Reviews

Early Edition
Principal Cast
  Gary Hobson
Marissa Clark
Chuck Fishman (1996-1998)
Patrick Quinn (1998-2000)
Erica Paget (1998-1999)
Henry Paget (1998-1999)
Carl (The Cat)
Kyle Chandler
Shanesia (Davis) Williams
Fisher Stevens
Billy Worely
Kristy Swanson
Myles Jeffery

"What if you knew, beyond a doubt, what was going to happen tomorrow. What would you do? There is no easy answer for a guy who gets tomorrow's news... today."
"His name is Gary Hobson. He gets tomorrow's newspaper today. He doesn't know how. He doesn't know why. He only knows, when the early edition hits his front door, he has 24 hours to set things right."
"I get tomorrow's newspaper... today. I'm out there saving people's lives. That's what I do, you see." - Gary Hobson

Early Edition originally aired on CBS from 1996 to 2000. The series features Kyle Chandler (What About Joan, Homefront, Tour of Duty) as Gary Hobson who, after falling on tough times, mysteriously begins to receive a copy of the Chicago Sun-Times with headlines from tomorrow.

After struggling with what to do with this foresight, Gary ultimately chooses to use the information to try to make the world a better place. With the arrival of each new day Gary receives tomorrow's headlines and faces a race against the clock and prevent some of the tragic headlines from happening.

Getting Around In Time
In the time travel genre, people travelling backwards in time have the benefit of hindsight that they can use to attempt to influence the past and alter the future. Early Edition is unique in that it's the newspaper that travels in time and not Gary. Gary is effectively given the foresight to be able to change the future, much the same way if he himself had gone back in time.

From a writing perspective, the advantage of using the paper as the time travel device is that the scenario which needs to be fixed by Gary does not have to be shown ahead of time and that some dramatic tension can be built into Gary deciphering the circumstances surrounding the newspaper article. The suspension of disbelief is also easier if it's the newspaper (or the news) that is travelling through time rather than Gary himself.

Armed with an interesting premise that allowed for entertaining dramatic moments and personal growth of its central character, Gary Hobson, Early Edition has often been compared to its time travelling cousin - Quantum Leap (1989 - 1993). While the methods of time travel are considerably different, the two shows do share a number of elements in common. Most notably the affable central characters whose "aw-shucks" humble attitude helps them persevere through each episode. In Quantum Leap, Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) has no choice but to carry out his perceived mission of helping out each person whose body he leaps into. Similarly, Gary Hobson has taken it upon himself to carry out this mission of righting wrongs. Both characters often wonder if there isn't a divine force responsible for their quest.

One of my favourite episodes of Early Edition, "The Out-Of-Towner" (Season 4, Episode 1) involved Gary encountering a New York businessman who also receives a similar paper. Whereas Gary saw the paper as a gift to be used to right wrong and that it was a solitary calling, the New Yorker employed a crew to help him intervene and was above using the paper for personal gain.

I've since come to the conclusion that Gary's behaviour is less like a super hero protecting his secret identity and more of a religious calling. Gary sacrifices much of his personal freedom including romantic relationships to follow his path. The man's more monk than superman!

An interesting aspect of the shows premise (albeit a bit of pet peeve of mine) is that Gary never seemed to look past the local page for his news content. While I don't doubt for a second that Gary Hobson would hesitate to take it upon himself to run all over the country (or the world for that matter!) to avert a disaster if he thought he could, but I realize the oversight on Gary's part is more necessitated by the writing than anything.

The cheat employed by the writers keeps the show focused on Gary and Chicago, but more importantly helps to keep the stories personal. By concentrating on local news, Gary's efforts were largely focused on saving the common people and allowing the viewer to relate to the stories on a personal level. Contrast this with a show like 7 Days, whose time travel device is controlled by the government and usually deployed only to avert national or international disasters. In the case of 7 Days the focus is not on the individual's story, but rather the action and dramatic tension of a event with global ramifications.

Over the course of the series Gary went from being a stock broker to owning a bar called McGinty's. During the first two seasons of Early Edition, Chuck Fishman (Fisher Stevens) co-worker and former college roommate of Gary's was a regular character and acted as a foil to tempt Gary into using the paper for less than pure purposes. Marissa Clark (Shanesia Davis- Williams), Gary's secretary when he was a stock broker and later manager of his bar, remained with the show the entire run and acted as Gary's confidant and voice of reason when Gary needed one.

Early Edition is currently in syndication on the FOX Family Channel.

Related Links

Ah, the fickle fans of television shows. It seems most of the links I had posted here in 2001 shortly after the series left the air have since become defunct. Most fans seemed to have abandoned their webpages related to Early Edition and have moved onto to other things. If you know of a good ACTIVE page, i.e. something new posted within the last six months, then drop me a line and I'll check it out.

Unrelated Links
Time Travelling Stock Broker Busted for Insider Trading
If you GOOGLED over here looking for information on Andrew Carlssin the time travelling stock broker who made $350 Million from an initial $800 investment the full detail can be found at my above link.

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Updated: 2003-04-20