There is something wonderfully refreshing about returning to 1990s scifi television series. Sure, the special effects — if you get them — are too enamored with morphing and crude CGI, but the spirit tends to be more optimistic than the grim cynicism we see in series like Black Mirror or Star Trek Discovery. And while we had plenty of scifi-slathered shows like SeaQuest, Stargate, and Star Trek, there was a spate of scifi-lite series such as Quantum Leap that kept the human factor high and the tech on the down low.
One such scifi-lite shows that had a good run on CBS was Early Edition. Debuting in 1996, Early Edition revolved around a silly but fun time travel premise: What if a nice guy happened to get tomorrow’s newspaper today? This is the situation for Gary (Kyle Chandler), a Chicago stockbroker who starts getting this early edition right as his life is falling to pieces. Instead of heeding the advice of his best friend, Fisher Stevens, to use the paper to make a ton of money, Gary gradually decides it’s his responsibility to use this advance knowledge to help people and stave off tragedies as best he can.
And that was enough dramatic fuel to power four seasons of the show. Gary gets the paper, finds out about something bad happening in the next 24 hours, and does what he can with limited resources to stop it. Rinse and repeat.
While the concept was basic, it helped that Chandler is such a likable guy that you honestly want to spend an hour or two with him. I watched the first two episodes with my oldest son, and even with the CBS look and pacing, we found ourselves warmly entertained. It was coated in smarm, mind you, but we didn’t mind when there were some fun jokes and a desire to see how Gary and his friends might pull off another time-changing event.
Following its cancellation in 2000, Early Edition became one of those shows that continued to grow an audience thanks to the enthusiastic evangelism of its fans. Fan conventions were held in Chicago in the early 2000s, although those seemed to have petered out after 2004. There is, of course, a subreddit for the remaining fandom.
In the years since, it became one of those “Does anyone remember this show?” topics that popped up here and there. However, in early 2022 Early Edition came back into the news with the word that CBS ordered a pilot of a gender-flipped reboot of the concept, this time with a female reporter who gets the paper early.