Saturday, October 8, 2016

Pilot Review: Timeless

Timeless (NBC)
Premiered October 3 at 10pm

Any regular reader of this blog should know how much I love time travel. I’m all for uber-serious visits like “The Butterfly Effect,” but it’s important to have fun sometimes, especially when you’re stopping by famous historical moments. The previews I saw for this show, with Abigail Spencer’s Lucy introducing her team as Dr. Dre and Nurse Jackie from General Hospital, made this my most anticipated new show of the fall, and this premiere lived up to my expectations. There were certain things that felt more comical than others, like Malcolm Barrett’s Rufus making frequent quips about being black in the past, like “The back of the bus was amazing,” and there’s a sense that there’s no real danger to their lives even though that’s just not the case. But that’s well made up for by the plot, which in this case started with the Hindenburg getting saved, but for the far more important purpose of killing those on board the subsequent flight. Kate was a memorable presence in the past, which suggests that this show will anchor on to intriguing figures to help each visit be all the more monumental, and the notion that the past can’t be totally changed is an intriguing concept. Flynn revealing to Lucy that he’s using her journal from the future is definitely something that makes everything more complicated, but what I liked most was that the future Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus returned to wasn’t the same as the one that they left. Lucy’s mother being alive while her sister never existed is a particularly notable difference, and I’m glad to see that this show is all about a complex understanding of time and home time travel can affect it. I like Abigail Spencer from “Rectify” and Malcolm Barrett from a far more comedic role on “Better Off Ted,” and it’s good to see Goran Visnjic from “ER,” Paterson Joseph from “The Leftovers” and “Babylon,” and Sakina Jaffrey from “House of Cards” being put to good use in the supporting cast. The acting doesn’t even need to be good, but it’s a plus that it is. I’m definitely in for more.

How will it work as a series? The idea is that, in each episode, they’ll visit a separate historical incident that, for whatever reason, Flynn wants to change. The overarching storyline with Lucy’s future and the continually-changing present should prove engaging too. This show runs the risk of becoming too silly or too convoluted, but I think it’s off to a promising start.
How long will it last? I hope a long time, but the ratings weren’t all that much to write home about, decent for this season but not as strong as other series, like “Blindspot,” have achieved in this timeslot in the past. Reviews have been pretty good, and so I don’t think NBC is rushing to get rid of this show just yet, but I’m not confident that it will make it to a second season either.

Pilot grade: B+

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