Voyagers – a journey through the ages through the mystery and wonder of time travel. Starring Jon-Erik Hexum as time traveler Phineas Bogg, who was plucked from the 17th century where he lived as a pirate and trained as a time traveler to give history a push where needed, and Meeno Peluce as ‘Jeffrey’, a kid from the year 1982 who is dragged along after Bogg uses his time travel device called an Omni to save Jeffrey’s life after he falls from an apartment balcony, almost plummeting down to the concrete below.

When Bogg arrived in 1982 it was considered a forbidden time zone, and as he saves Jeffrey from certain death his Voyager guidebook is left behind which carries all the historical information Bogg needs in his travels. Without the guidebook Bogg has to rely on Jeffrey to help him with historical information, since Jeffrey (as it conveniently turns out) is a historical whiz.

The time machine Bogg and Jeffrey use, the Omni, is shaped much like a gold watch (or in one case, silver). It has two lights on it. If the Omni lights red that meant that history was not following the recorded path, and that Bogg and Jeffrey needed to get everything back on track, which was indicated by a green light.

However, there were times when the Omni would be as temperamental as a TARDIS and it would take them to places that they were not set for. The explanation for this would be that the Omni would get stuck in automatic at times. The landings in time zones weren’t much better either as Bogg and Jeffrey fell from the sky and landed on the ground hard (most of the time).

‘Voyagers’ was a cute family-fare show that was designed to entertain and educate adults and children alike. It was created by James D. Parriott and ran in association with Scholastic Productions and MCA/Universal. The show ran at 7PM on Sunday nights just before the final season of ‘Chips’.

On the series viewers were treated to events in history that they felt they could take part of. Such events were Abraham Lincoln giving the Gettysburg address (after making sure he wasn’t captured by the Confederacy), meeting Franklin D. Roosevelt (and ensuring that he becomes President of the United States and not a movie director), the inventions of the plane and the electric light, as well as holding court with Queen Victoria. There was no door in history that couldn’t be opened in ‘Voyagers’.

Others accompanied Bogg and Jeffrey on time trips as well. Cleopatra of Egypt inadvertently stowed away on a trip to 1920’s New York. A retired Voyager decides to accompany Bogg and Jeffrey on a trip, and a woman from the 1940’s accompany Bogg and Jeffrey to the old west while trying to help save General Douglass MacArthur in World War II. There was also a female Voyager named Olivia whom Bogg and Jeffrey met who was trying to get the Mona Lisa back before it went down with the Titanic.

There were also moral quandaries that the Voyagers had to endure in regards to time travel. For Bogg it involved falling in love with a woman who was to marry Alexander Graham Bell and ensure the invention of the telephone (a nightmare to parents of teenage girls everywhere). For Jeffrey it involved whether or not he should stop the Titanic disaster and save the lives of everyone on board. In the end they realized they had to ensure history runs its course, usually with one reminding the other of a Voyager’s duty.

It is not known why history needs to go the way we as the audience remember it, or what causes history to go wrong. One cause we are introduced to is a renegade Voyager named Drake (played by Steven Liska) who had his own agenda for history and puts Bogg on trial for trumped up charges of violating the Voyager code. In this episode entitled ‘The Trial of Phineas Bogg’ we saw a glimpse of the futuristic world of the Voyagers. It also establishes Drake as a villainous foil who now seeks to mess up history for revenge. We see Drake one time try to stop reporter Nellie Bly from completing her trip around the world, as well as keep Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from telling more stories of Sherlock Holmes, by masquerading as Jack the Ripper. A plan foiled by Bogg and Jeffrey.

Voyagers aired on Sundays at 7PM. However not all of NBC’s affiliates aired the program, which probably contributed to low ratings. One affiliate aired in its place the syndicated Lawrence Welk show in the place of Voyagers. At any rate, Voyagers only lasted one season of 20 episodes before the series was cancelled.

Meeno Peluce did a few more roles before fading into obscurity. Hexum, however, would not be so fortunate.

Hexum was tapped for a starring role on the 1984 CBS series ‘Cover Up’. During production, one episode being filmed ran into production delays to the point where Hexum was getting frustrated. As a joke, he picked up the gun he was going to use in the scene (a .357 Magnum revolver) and held it to his head, pretending to blow his brains out. The gun, loaded with blanks, went off.  The concussion of the shot fractured his skull and caused significant brain damage. After being taken off life support, Jon-Erik Hexum died October 18, 1984, a promising career cut short.  CBS aired the completed episodes, attempting to continue the series without Hexum, but the show failed.

Voyagers would see a brief resurgence in syndication due to the arrival of new UHF stations in the mid to late 80’s that were looking to air new programming. These stations would become the platform for new networks like FOX, the WB and UPN.

Written by JSC1