The Almanac (pseudohistorian) wrote,
The Almanac
pseudohistorian

There's a Path You Take and a Path Not Taken

The most popular request amongst my list of potential posts from way back in January of last year was one about various fictional timelines I've thought of creating and putting online at The History of Things That Never Were (increasingly out-of-date though it is) to join such perennial favourites as my Firefly Timeline, my Kindred: The Embraced Timeline, and my Sex and the City Timeline.

When I first sat down to make this post a reality, I knew I'd taken notes on timelines here and there, but not enough to make a list of them a daunting task. Little did I realise there were already thirty fictional timelines I'd made at least some progress on--which is why it's taken until the new year for this post to appear.

For each timeline, I've offered up some thoughts on why I haven't gone further with it so far, how much material makes up its continuity, and what it would take to put all that together.

Alien Nation Timeline

This is the first (but certainly not the last) time a short-lived television series will come up. Any such series that I like makes for an appealing prospect because I know the continuity will be limited in scope--in this case, just the one season and its follow-up movies along with some novels and comics (not all of which would fit anyway). At this point, I'd also enjoy showing an alternate version of the Nineties, but I feel like there'd be a limited audience for this work.

American Pie Timeline

I doubt this is anyone's first choice for a franchise dying to have its continuity mapped out, but when the direct-to-video sequels started showing up, I thought there might be something there that would be entertaining to write--and I could throw in some factual milestones in the history of modern sexuality, similar to what I did with Sex and the City. As I discovered with that timeline, however--and as I've written about before--almost no one seems to want to read a fictional timeline that isn't related to genre fiction.

Austin Powers Timeline

Speaking of humourous takes on sexuality, the continuity of this movie trilogy holds up rather well, even with the use of time travel, and I only need to incorporate those films and one tie-in book with a surprising amount of additional information. This International Timeline of Mystery will probably happen sooner or later.

Blackadder Timeline

Conveniently, there is a single fancy DVD set collecting the entirety of Blackadder continuity, which is limited in quantity while also covering centuries in scope. Despite not being a genre series, I think there might still be some interest in this, and I wouldn't mind creating a timeline for something other than an American series.

Blade Runner Timeline

For years, I've assumed someone would beat me to the punch on this one, since the movie has such enduring popularity and this probably wouldn't take that long to compile, with just the computer game and some novels to worry about (if you wanted to include them at all). As we get closer to 2019, this also starts to come across more like an alternate history.

Captain Power Timeline

I actually got as far as taping reruns of Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future and starting a rough outline of events, so great was my childhood love for this (apparently somewhat obscure?) Canadian-made television series. Once a proper DVD set was released, that previous work became unnecessary, but the continuity of the series is rather unique--an entire second season was written, but never shot, and various details about that season have been revealed over time.

The Chronicles of Riddick Timeline

This is another film franchise that seemed manageable, since there was only a "trilogy" of sorts and the video game Escape from Butcher Bay at the time I was considering it. Even with Riddick (finally) getting made, there still isn't an extensive canon to include...and a part of me thinks Vin Diesel is actually geeky enough that he'd be really into it if such a timeline were created. (That last part is probably also true of the more extensive mythology in The Fast and the Furious and its sequels, but making that timeline seems more bittersweet now.)

Commander in Chief Timeline

There is already a decent, if not detailed, timeline for The West Wing out there, but its short-lived putative successor has not gotten the same treatment. I would be more inclined to put in the work if I thought more people would be interested in seeing it...or if I felt more like the series was worth rewatching.

Degrassi Timeline

There was a time when I was quite keen on creating a timeline for this classic Canadian franchise, in light of my fondness for both the original Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High as well as the newer Degrassi: The Next Generation--but as the latter series went on season after season, the sheer amount of material involved became quite daunting. Once that series had lasted so long that it simply became Degrassi and announced they would be adopting a floating timeline as opposed to a more realistic approach, I knew that reconciling everything coherently had become next to impossible.

Demolition Man Timeline

At the other end of the spectrum, all I really have to use as source material here is the original movie itself, with its satirical take on the world of 2032 that caused such confusion for the makers of the How Did This Get Made? Podcast. Because of its relative simplicity, it's quite possible I'll still put this together at some point...if only to show how we arrived at the three seashells.

Earth: Final Conflict Timeline

When the first season of this series was airing, it showed a lot of promise--along with a lot of worldbuilding for a plausible near-future environment that I had some interest in mapping out with a timeline. Unfortunately, the second season aired after that, starting the long decline which made the series virtually unrecognisable by its fifth and final season. I doubt all of it would hold together particularly well, and I've already suffered through this show to the bitter end once, so this timeline is rather unlikely at this point.

Family Guy Timeline

Back when there was just the original run of the series to keep in mind, this timeline seemed quite possible. Even though Stewie Griffin would present a problem, I thought I could find a one-year timeframe where those episodes could plausibly fit together. With the return of the show and the vast amount of output since then, however, this continuity (if you can call it that) has become as hopelessly muddled as The Simpsons or South Park or any other similarly long-running animated series.

Farscape Timeline

To be honest, I'm shocked that this doesn't exist already, since there's such an ardent and ongoing fandom for the franchise and (as far as I can tell) its continuity holds together rather well. (This is similar to how I've always been surprised there isn't a Stargate Timeline which includes all three of its live-action television series.) Beyond the series itself, you only have to worry about a comic book continuation by kradical and a few novels, so a sufficiently motivated fan (i.e. a bigger Farscape fan than I am) could readily make this happen.

The Fifth Element Timeline

Much like Demolition Man, the only source material for this timeline would be the movie itself, which suggested a vast world and history that were never followed up on in either sequels or any sort of media tie-ins. That straightforward simplicity suggests the chances of this coming to fruition are more supergreen than many of the alternatives.

The Handmaid's Tale Timeline
Fifth Business Timeline
Flowers for Algernon Timeline
Of Human Bondage Timeline

I put all of these together when I was in high school--one of the earliest signs that I was naturally inclined towards fictional timelines, regardless of the genre of fiction involved. The dystopian setting of The Handmaid's Tale would probably have the most appeal for a genre-oriented audience (especially since the year that works best for the novel's events to take place is 2014), but I could easily dig up my old notes for any of these or even look at some other more literary option(s).

Hugh Fitzcairn Timeline

Because of the nature of the Highlander franchise, timelines related to it tend to focus on the lives of specific characters, arranging flashbacks and references into chronologial order. Fitz, the friend of Duncan MacLeod in Highlander: The Series played by The Who's Roger Daltrey, is one of the few recurring Immortal characters from that continuity not to get the timeline treatment yet, and his appearances were limited enough that such a timeline for him seems manageable.

Kill Bill Timeline

Even though the entirety of Kill Bill continuity is (currently) made up of a single movie in two parts, there is enough backstory and worldbuilding there to make a potential timeline interesting to both make and read. If you choose to add in the implicit crossover(s) with other movies in Quentin Tarantino's oeuvre, there are even more possibilities.

Kim Possible Timeline

No one was more surprised than I was to learn that a Disney Channel cartoon (that isn't Gargoyles) had an extensive continuity which even remained consistent after the introduction of time travel. The lack of full-season video releases when I was most excited about the series is mostly what kept me from creating this timeline, but a rewatch may also reinspire my interest.

Lost Girl Timeline

I wanted to make a timeline for this Canadian series almost as soon as its first season started. The worldbuilding is similar to that of something like the Buffyverse, with a more adult viewpoint (unsurprising, perhaps, given that the show's main character is a succubus) which couldn't be more different in tone from something like Kim Possible. Currently in its fourth season, there is still a disappointing lack of specific dates to go by, but a dedicated rewatch would probably provide a solid framework to build from anyway.

Mad About You Timeline
NBC New York Timeline

Most sitcoms have a shaky sense of continuity at best (there's a reason Chuck Cunningham Syndrome is named after a sitcom character), but Mad About You was rather consistent over the course of its seven seasons. The series was also part of an extended continuity across several sitcoms from that period (most notably Friends and Seinfeld) which I dubbed "NBC New York," after their home network and main setting. There would probably be a certain level of interest in some version of this timeline--either with just the one series or the entire crossover canon--but the amount of work required doesn't make the payoff seem worthwhile.

Mad Men Timeline

There is certainly a lot of overlap between the fandom for Mad Men and genre fandom in general, and I could tell right from Season One that it would be interesting and informative to trace real-life developments from the Sixties as they intertwined with fictional events in the series. Once again, however, the lessons I learned from my Sex and the City efforts about attention and feedback (or lack thereof) have kept me from seriously pursuing this option.

Max Headroom Timeline

This series had two "seasons" but less than fifteen episodes, now conveniently collected into a single box set, and it would push a lot of my nostalgia buttons to chronicle events twenty minutes into the future. Like a number of other possible timelines listed here, this would now take the form of an alternate history of online development, showing a fully-developed cyberpunk world from the viewpoint of the Eighties.

Queen of Swords Timeline

Yet another one-season wonder makes the list with this variation on the Zorro legend, which I watched mostly for its (understandable) combination of swordplay and veterans of the Highlander franchise. Canadian content laws ensure that this show continues to get television airtime here, and I imagine I'd learn a lot about early California history in putting this timeline together, but there doesn't seem to be much awareness anymore that the series even existed--why else would it not have a proper North American video release?

RoboCop Timeline

You'd think this would be a straightforward situation where I'd only have to worry about the original film trilogy, but RoboCop's potential canon also includes a subsequent television series as well as a more explicit miniseries which may or may not all exist in the same continuity--not to mention various other spinoffs such as Frank Miller's famous RoboCop Versus The Terminator crossover. Given how much public awareness is still around for (every version of) this franchise, these issues may still be worth sorting out.

Rocky Timeline

Sylvester Stallone makes a surprise second appearance on this list. Every once in a while, I've gone back and reconsidered the appeal of this timeline, especially after the release of Rocky Balboa made it more relevant, and it's much more appealing than something like a Rambo Timeline would be. Since I like making all of my timelines at least a little educational, I'd enjoy exploring the history of modern boxing this way, and on a fictional level, all I have to worry about are six movies and one iced tea commercial.

seaQuest DSV Timeline

Much like Earth: Final Conflict, this series had a very promising first season with a plausible near-future world that I wanted to learn more about. (There was even a time when I thought there might be a way to fit it into Star Trek continuity.) By the same token, however, subsequent seasons involved a lot of unwelcome changes to that world and the series premise in general, to the point that I'm not sure I'd want to try getting useful timeline information from its eventual incarnation as seaQuest 2032.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip Timeline

I was a big enough fan of Aaron Sorkin after The West Wing that I eagerly looked forward to his next network series, which ultimately proved to be...problematic, and not particularly successful, as its one and only season will attest. The series also has some plausibility problems which would make any attempt at sorting out its continuity difficult--most notably, it asks us to believe in a world where Saturday Night Live exists and yet another show just like it has managed to thrive on a different network for twenty years.

Terminator Timeline

When the only onscreen iterations of this franchise were the two films by James Cameron, I was eager to put this timeline together, even if it meant trying to figure out a way to incorporate T2 3-D: Battle Across Time or the output from Dark Horse Comics. In light of the serious continuity problems in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, however, I had to revisit this issue. Ultimately, it seems like every new version of the Terminator story makes for another branched timeline--to the point that I may end up writing an entirely separate post on the numerous continuities which now exist, from the movies to The Sarah Connor Chronicles to the various novels and comics that have been released over the years.

Tron Timeline

In the lead-up to Tron: Legacy, a bunch of viral marketing materials started coming out detailing the history of Encom and bridging the period between the original movie and the present. (Sometimes, that even took the form of making live events part of the fictional narrative.) This impressive amount of transmedia work made me consider bringing it all together in timeline form, but I ultimately decided against it--and with the advent of Tron: Uprising, especially, I'm not sure how I would format the differences between events in our world and the history of The Grid.

V: The Series Timeline

The initial landmark miniseries remains a memorable cultural event from my childhood, and (other than a short-lived series of novels) that continuity was only added to by V: The Final Battle and V: The Series (which quickly made The Final Battle something of a misnomer). I would enjoy examining a version of the Eighties spent fighting off an alien invasion, but I fear most people would just be looking for a timeline of the reboot of this franchise and not care about the chronology of the original.

Needless to say, there are a lot of options I could pursue further, though the motivation has been lacking. Ideally, I'd like to create at least one new fictional timeline this year, but the likelihood of items on this wish list becoming a reality depends on how much time I have, how much interest people express in seeing them, and whether any of these timelines turn up elsewhere.

If you're really interested in seeing one or more of these fictional timelines come to fruition--or you know of someone else who has already created them--please let me know in the comments below, especially if you arrived here after searching online for something specific. I've tried to gauge the level of public interest in each chronology, but discovering more eager anticipation out there than I expected might be just the incentive I need.
Tags: degrassi, highlander, kindred: the embraced, metafiction, sex and the city, timelines
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