HBO Cancels New Sci-Fi Series After Just One Season

There is no future for the Time Traveler's Wife. After one season, HBO canceled its adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger's best-selling novel. Steven Moffat (Doctor Who, Sherlock) adapted the story of the romance between a woman (Rose Leslie) and a man who unwittingly travels through time (Theo James). 

"Though HBO will not be moving forward with a second season of The Time Traveler's Wife, it was our privilege to partner with master storytellers Steven Moffat and [director] David Nutter," HBO said in a statement. "We are so grateful for their passion, hard work and care for adapting this beloved book. We also thank Theo and Rose, and the rest of our brilliant cast for their heartfelt performances, which completely captivated audiences."

Overall, the series received mixed to negative reviews. Rotten Tomatoes, the review aggregator website, gives the show a 37% approval rating based on 35 critic reviews, with an average rating of 5.1/10. The critics' consensus on the website reads, "While it's easy to get swept up in the romance of performers as appealing as Rose Leslie and Theo JamesThe Time Traveler's Wife often kills the mood with its overdetermined conceit." Throughout its six-week run, the show drew just 223,000 same-day viewers, according to The Hollywood Reporter. This figure does not include streaming and delayed viewing, where HBO shows get most of their viewers.

In an interview with the New York Post, Moffat said that he adapted The Time Traveler's Wife into a show for HBO because he is a fan of the book."It inspired the ['Doctor Who'] episode 'The Girl in the Fireplace,'" Moffat said. "I had just read 'The Time Traveler's Wife', which I loved. And I said, 'We should do an episode like that.' And then, in [author Audrey Niffenegger's] next book, she had a character watching 'The Girl in the Fireplace' on television. So, I knew she was onto me. And thereafter, we got in touch." 

On May 15, the six-episode series premiered with James playing Henry de Tamble, a man with a genetic disorder causing him to time travel. Unable to control his time periods or landings, he is always naked when abruptly deposited in public. His wife, Clare Abshire (Leslie), has grown up knowing Henry since he traveled back in time to see her while she was young. Their first encounter when they're both in their 20s is fortuitous, but he has no idea who she is since the visits are in his future, even though they're in her past.

The Time Traveler's Wife was also a 2009 movie featuring Rachel McAdams as Clare and Eric Bana as Henry." At the time that film came out, I wouldn't have had the profile to be the one that got to adapt it, frankly," said Moffat. "And I didn't expect it. I never gave it a thought, except when I was nabbing ideas for Doctor Who. On the very last day that I worked on 'Doctor Who,' I went for a drink with my executive producer, and he said, 'I've been looking into the rights for The Time Traveler's Wife.'" So, it wasn't a case of me hanging around for a decade wondering when my turn would come. But, when it came up, I was keen." 

Moffat says the project was always intended as a multi-season show rather than a limited-series adaptation. The season finale on June 19 covered the couple's wedding, meaning the episodes had covered about a third of Niffenegger's book thus far.

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"I had a plan about how many seasons we'd do — not telling you! — and where each one would end and how far you'd take it," Moffat told TVLine in May. "There is enough juice in the book for more than just one [season]. But at the same time, I would still call it a limited series because it can't go on forever. It has to stop. We already know a fair bit about how it ends. By Episode 3, you know he's going to get shot in a forest. You know he's going to lose his feet at some point. So it's a story of destiny, I guess. The end is built into the beginning."