Tuesday, November 29, 2016
TV Tuesday: Timeless
The first episode of Timeless sets up the plot and the pattern for the rest of the shows. A young history professor named Lucy, played by Abigail Spencer (a veteran of Suits, Mad Men, and True Detective) is picked up and whisked off to a large warehouse filled with strange equipment. There, the leaders of a scientific team explain to her that they've invented time travel. A nasty bad guy named Garcia Flynn, played by Goran Visnjic (one of our favorites from ER and Extant), has stolen the latest model of the time travel ship and headed off to May 6, 1937, which happens to be the date the Hindenburg exploded. Besides Lucy, they have also brought in a Delta Force solider named Wyatt, played by Matt Lanter, to provide protection. The third member of the time travel team is Rufus, played by Malcolm Barrett (who is hilarious in Better off Ted), a shy scientist who helped invent the time travel method and is needed for his technical expertise. They convince Lucy she must help them at once before history is irreparably changed.
So, the new ragtag team gets into an older model of the time travel ship and follows the first ship to May 6, 1937, in New Jersey. It soon becomes apparent that Flynn wants to change history and save the Hindenburg. Although that would save dozens of lives in that moment, Lucy immediately understands the devastating effects that any change could have on history and the decades that came after the Hindenburg. The team, dressed in period clothes, rushes around Lakehurst, NJ, to try to stop Flynn from stopping the disaster.
I won't tell you whether they succeed or not because that is part of the suspense of this unique show. On each episode, they follow Flynn off to some other date in the past. In every case, Flynn is trying to change history - sometimes dramatically. I will tell you they do not always succeed in stopping Flynn, and they do see some repercussions - both personal and global - from his messing with the historic timeline. Flynn's motives remain a mystery (we have watched seven episodes so far) that viewers get small hints of in each episode. The team travels to major historic events like Lincoln's assassination and the Alamo, but sometimes, it is less obvious why a particular time and place are pivotal points in history.
I am really enjoying this show. I am a huge fan of time travel stories, both on screen and in books, and this show is no exception. It has everything that makes me love time travel stories: fascinating history lessons, the clash of modern and historic, and - most of all - the thought-provoking ramifications of time travel and changing history. That theme is especially prominent here, as are the ethical dilemmas that result. For instance, Rufus, a black man, has a really difficult time with their mission to make sure that Lincoln's assassination goes on as it really happened in history. It is those kinds of thoughtful and mind-blowing concepts that I enjoy about this show.
Overall, I wouldn't say this show is excellent or perfect. It's no Orphan Black (but then, nothing is!). It is very good, though. I wasn't all that familiar with the three main actors who make up the time travel team, but the more I get to know their characters, the more I like them and the interactions between them. The show has a good sense of humor (very important to me!) which works especially well with some of the modern day vs. historic clashes. And, as I gushed in the previous paragraph, I LOVE the premise and plot. This show will not only appeal to sci fi fans but also to history buffs, and the historical details have been fascinating. Besides all that, it is a fast-paced and suspenseful thriller. I can't wait to watch episode 8 tonight, when the team travels back to the moon landing.
Timeless airs on NBC at 10 pm on Mondays. All episodes, starting with the first, are still available On Demand if you have cable or on NBC's website (the last 5 are available for free; you have to sign in with your cable or satellite provider to access the first 3 episodes). Timeless is also available on Amazon for $1.99 an episode or $19.99 for the entire first season (link below).