There’s several sci fi TV series that I wish were just films. The TV format tends to complicate and lose the suspense over the series. I think they’d have a cleaner, more powerful impact if they were limited to a 2 hour runtime. Thankfully, Timeless doesn’t fall into that trap. It creates a balance between science fiction and history. It’s time travel done right, despite an odd and stereotypical subplot.
Ex-NSA asset Garcia Flynn (Goran Višnjić), steals a time machine from Mason Industries with the intention of changing American history. In an attempt to save Flynn, and history itself, Special Agents Denise Christopher (Sakina Jaffrey) and Connor Mason (Paterson Joseph) create a small task force. The team includes history professor Lucy Preston (Abigail Spencer), Delta Force Agent Wyatt Logan (Matt Lanter) and Mason Industries programmer Rufus Carlin (Malcolm Barrett). Together, they take a prototype time machine throughout the largest turning points in American history while a watchful eye scans the operation.
“Tough call for me. I was really hoping to be sold into slavery.”
Science fiction loves to talk about time travel. Are there multiple timelines? What about parallel timelines? Is there a butterfly effect? Or is it all a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff? Who knows? Timeless’ first episode explains their version of time travel and lets the rules guide the series. Timeless sets itself apart from most other time-travel based series with its cleaner writing and execution. It keeps things simple by focusing all its attention on alternate history and historical fiction.
Who remembers learning the French and Indian Wars in class? I don’t, but Timeless makes it entertaining. The history in Timeless is factual and surprisingly entertaining. With the balance between history and sci fi, Timeless needs its 45-minute run time to showcase each of its stories. It’s a structure that wouldn’t work as a film but benefits from an episodic format. The American history events are predictable, but the motivations aren’t. They go to Nazi Germany to ensure Werner Von Braun stays with the Nazis, because he eventually goes to the USA to advance the space program. Still, the team’s tasks do take a moral toll. Who would want to help the Nazis? Albeit predictable, the history is well researched, refreshing, and morally telling.
“Dude, James Bond just hit on Lucy.”
Time travel and alternate history sci fi always involve a secret organization subplot. Whether it’s the Illuminati, or an obsession with time travel itself, the organization is always there. Timeless has this stereotypical subplot, but the way it uses it is odd. We and the characters know very little about this organization or what they do. We also don’t have a clue what their motives are. This makes it hard to sympathize with our heroes’ decision to go after the organization, especially since it goes against their mission to preserve history.
Overall, Timeless has clean, simple sci fi that lets the accurate history shine. It helps the series to be entertaining and fascinating in a TV format. Timeless is one of the few 2016 Fall series that I hope gets renewed for a second season.
My Rating: 8.5/10