Steven Moffat to Adapt ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ Series for HBO

Steven Moffat at "Sherlock" panel at the Television Critics Association press tour in 2015 (Photo: Rahoul Ghose/PBS)

Steven Moffat just can’t seem to let go of time travel.

The former Doctor Who showrunner only just recently passed the reins of the long-running science fiction series to new head executive Chris Chibnall, and he’s apparently already back at the whole wibley wobbly timey wimey thing.

Moffat will adapt a new TV version of Audrey Niffenegger’s bestselling novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife for HBO. This magical love story follows the marriage of Henry and Claire, whose relationship faces a unique problem – the fact that Henry possesses a genetic condition that causes him to bounce back and forth through time. Subsequently, the pair comes at their relationship from two different directions, and the resulting shifting storylines are simultaneously frustrating, heartbreaking and swoon-worthy.

The novel was adapted for the big screen back in 2009, in a feature film that starred Rachel McAdams. The idea of turning it into an HBO series is deeply appealing, if only because the pay-cable network is known for really leaning into its prestige projects. If anyone’s going to make a definitive version of Niffenegger’s story, I’d believe it would be HBO.

The thing is, it’s not super clear that Moffat is the one who should be making it. By the end of his tenure on Doctor Who, his stories had become overly complicated and frequently repetitive, circling back to the same narrative tricks over and over again. For many fans – including yours truly – it probably would have been better for his first post-Who project to be something that had nothing to do with time travel. 

At least Moffat appears to be a big fan of the novel. He told The Hollywood Reporter:

I read Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife many years ago, and I fell in love with it. In fact, I wrote a Doctor Who episode called ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’ as a direct response to it. When, in her next novel, Audrey had a character watching that very episode, I realized she was probably on to me. All these years later, the chance to adapt the novel itself, is a dream come true. The brave new world of long-form television is now ready for this kind of depth and complexity. It’s a story of happy ever after — but not necessarily in that order.

There isn’t any real solid information about what the Time Traveler’s Wife series might look like, when it could premiere, or even how many episodes it will have.  But it’s hardly the only project Moffat has on deck at the moment.

Having a million irons in the fire isn’t a new thing for Moffat, who headed up Doctor Who at the same time he was running things behind-the-scenes for global mega-hit mystery series Sherlock. Theoretically, the Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman-led drama could still be back for a fifth season at some point. (Though I wouldn’t expect it any time in the next few years.) But in the meantime, Moffat and his co-creating partner Mark Gatiss are already working on a new adaptation of Dracula.

What do you think? Interested in a Moffat take on The Time Traveler’s Wife? Or would you prefer he move on to a different kind of story? Let’s discuss in the comments!

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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