In the current MAS*H (or Penobscot) thread I mentioned with other Dopers the impossibility of figuring out how much time has passed on the series. It begins when the Korean War is well under way and covers at most just over 2 years of the conflict in 11 seasons, so it’s almost impossible to deduce whether an episode from 1977 is 1 year or 6 months or several alterna-years different from a 1982 episode.
What are some other shows (or movies) that suffer from serious chronological problems? (It doesn’t count if, as with Groundhog Day or Slaughterhouse 5, time distortion is a part of the plotline.)
I never watched The Waltons religiously (though I’ve caught enough reruns to know that it’s goody-two-shoes/schmaltzy reputation isn’t that deserved- good program/real family/real problems/etc.). I don’t know if there were chronological continuity problems in the series itself, which begins during the Depression and ends shortly after WW2, but there are serious ones in the later TV movies.
In a 1993 reunion movie set at Thanksgiving 1963 (the JFK assassination is an important plotline), much is forgotten about the younger generation of Waltons. There were at least three grandchildren by 1945 in the series, the oldest being a boy born to Mary Ellen before Pearl Harbor (he was a baby when his father was reported killed there), so that child would be at least 22 years old by Thanksgiving 1963 but in fact he’s still about elementary school age, as are the other grandchildren who would in fact be young adults or at least late teens.
In the last reunion movie the year is 1969-1970 and Olivia (the matriarch) has become a schoolteacher. While some mention is made of her age for a new career, it implies she (like the actress Michael Learned) is in her 50s, when judging from the series’ start in the early 1930s when her oldest children were in their late teens, even if Olivia was a teenaged mother she’d have been born in or before 1900, which would make her at least around 70 and probably a few years older by this time- too old to start a teaching career (that’s not ageist- mandatory retirement for teachers in the 1960s would have usually been 65 or younger), and once again the grandchildren who would in fact be old enough to have their own families and careers are teenaged.
HBO’s ROME, but it had some major chronology problems as well. Vorenus returns to his family in Rome between the crossing of the Rubicon (49BC) and the Battle of Pharsalus (48 BC), so the date is rather clearly established within a year. His family consists of two daughters- the eldest said to be 13 and the younger one about 10- and an infant of mystery parentage. By the time the series ends- months after the battle of Actium (31 BC, at least 17 years later) his oldest daughter is a young adult (though not the 30 year old she would have to be), Vorena the younger is still a teenager (though she would be close to 30 herself) and the infant is prepubescant though he would be at least 17; the infant is in fact the same age or younger than Cæsarion, whose birth (47 BC) was a major plot factor and who would be 16 by Actium but again, is prepubescant. Likewise, the characters of Mark Antony, Atia, Cleopatra, etc., do not age accordingly at all, not even gray hair being added to the actors- the whole series feels as if it covers perhaps 5 years.
What are some other series and or movies that have major chronology problems?
(I love the series and accept the historical liberties and omissions it makes, and though I wish they’d included Fulvia and her hairpin I understand why they cut her out, BUT the two things I can’t forgive it for aren’t chronology: the first is having Caesar with a full head of hair and the second for omitting Augustus’s first wife and Livia’s second son [HOW CAN YOU HAVE ROMAN HISTORY WITHOUT JULIA and DRUSUS (and more importantly, their descendants]!?)