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Apple TV+ Is Rebooting The Most Outrageous Time Travel Comedy Ever

“It’s evil, therefore it’s serious.”

David Warner stars as the Evil Genius in a scene from the film 'Time Bandits', 1981. (Photo by AVCO ...
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Rebooting Terry Gilliam's sci-fi classics is a tricky business. While the SyFy Channel’s 12 Monkeys ended up being a complementary successor to Gilliam’s 1995 film, who would dare mess with another (though very different) Gilliam cult hit? Why would it ever be a good idea to reboot Time Bandits?

The answer is that if you hire Jemaine Clement, Iain Morris, and Taika Waititi to do a new version of Time Bandits for Apple TV+, then maybe they’ll not only do the original film justice but also make something fantastic in its own right. Starring Lisa Kudrow, the first trailer for the new Time Bandits series just dropped, and you’d have to have a very cold heart not to crack a smile.

Like the original 1981 film, the TV series will focus on a group of rag-tag thieves who accidentally pick up a young boy named Kevin who’s obsessed with history. Kudrow plays Penelope, the pseudo-leader of the Time Bandits, who fits in perfectly with the comedy crafted by Clement, Morris, and Waititi. The colorful, outlandish trailer gives off major Lemony Snicket vibes, and Apple is clearly hoping to make the show a crossover hit for families.

For sci-fi movie buffs, seeing Time Bandits resurrected is exciting simply because the original film represents a certain moment in speculative cinema that seems to have passed. In the 1980s, Time Bandits was part of an exciting sub-genre where young kids could get in on the action without delegitimizing it. From Labyrinth to The Goonies, The Explorers, and The Never-Ending Story, several sci-fi and fantasy films delivered a new kind of family movie that could be legitimately scary and have real stakes, yet still somehow sport an all-ages appeal.

The 21st-century spiritual successor to all of this is Netflix’s Stranger Things, although, unlike the streamer’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, you wouldn’t want to watch Stranger Things with a child. Based on the trailer, it seems like Time Bandits is poised to be more like the 2023 film Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, in that it’s a throwback-style narrative with a lot of laughs that offers good, clean genre fun. In that sense, Time Bandits seems poised to tackle a demographic Apple TV+ hasn’t quite cracked yet: a family-friendly genre series with the quality of a prestige show.

Time Bandits debuts two of its 10 episodes on Wednesday, July 24, on Apple TV+.

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