A little while back on twitter I mentioned the idea of a blog post (or maybe very short series) about some of my favourite TV shows that have done episodes set in the past. I love a good costume drama as much as the next person and I'm also excessively fond of murder mysteries set in the 20s, 30s and so on but I also love a lot of TV shows that are set in the present day, so when 'vintage' somehow pops up in them unexpectedly? I often nearly explode from glee. Especially when it's actually done pretty well in terms of costumes, hair, etc.
Oh, and apologies in advance if I start writing about the shows as though I assume everyone will know the characters, premise etc. Let me know if you think there needs to be more explanation - I've linked to wikipedia articles for each show/episode. Er, and for the not-particularly-creative title!
Even before I was really into the styles of the '40s, this episode of Roswell was always one of my favourites. (I think I have already done a post on this episode at some point, actually.) This is more of a flashback than a time travel episode - Michael (played by Brendan Fehr, pictured top centre) has to interview a WWII survivor/soldier for a school assignment. As the episode unfolds the soldier tells Michael how he was in Roswell when the crash happened; the story he tells of his time there is played out by the regular cast in place of the people he knew.
The costumes and sets are actually done quite nicely and I love that each character is given very individual looks, some of which seem to mirror aspects of the original/present day characters themselves.
I felt like a good deal of season 7 was filler but when filler looks this good how can I complain? In this episode Dean (played by Jensen Ackles) accidentally 'hitches a ride' to the 1940s with what is believed to be a time-travelling demon (it's actually the...fourth time Dean has travelled back in time, I think). In 1944 Dean meets Elliott Ness (yep, the same one) and they go hunting for the demon...but not before Dean is hooked up with some era appropriate threads.
There wasn't a whole lot of women's fashion in this episode but getting to see Jensen in a three piece suit, a fantastic coat and a very nice hat for most of the episode certainly didn't have me complaining. And I wasn't just impressed by the costumes but the thoroughness of the sets, extras, everything; I don't know why I was quite so surprised by the details, to be honest. I also love how Dean still thinks it's going to be like he'd seen in the movies (even after being disappointed that the 'wild west' was not like a 1950s western).
There's also the added bonus of Jason Dohring as the time-traveller who is in two of my other favourite TV shows (Veronica Mars and the unsurprisingly short-lived Moonlight, which, yes, is terrible hence my love for it.)
(Sorry about the watermark. I didn't feel like photoshopping all of them out.)
Once again, this was always one of my favourite episodes, even before I had a big interest in the fashion of bygone eras. The premise of this episode is that the soul of Phoebe (played by Alyssa Milano) is sent back to one of her past lives (when she and her sisters were cousins) as the path she took then could affect her current life. OK, so this episode may not get top points for period accuracy but for Phoebe's hair, make-up etc. alone? I can forgive them a dodgy wig and a little excess fringing on some of the extras' costumes.
Hopefully I'll have time at some point to do a second and maybe a third for other TV shows if anyone is interested. Now, I know some of you also have watched/loved these shows and I'd love to know what you thought of these episodes (even if Roswell and Charmed have been over for years)! Or if there are any other shows you love that have done episodes set in a past decade.
Andi B. Goode