When a new crop of shows comes along, all claiming to be great, it’s not easy to know which ones will be worth your time and which ones will be disappointments. Fortunately, New York Comic Con gave us the chance to see a few of these new shows so we can help you thin out your DVR queue.
NBC recently introduced their new time-travel series Timeless, created by Eric Kripke (Supernatural) and Shawn Ryan (The Shield, Terriers) and the executive producers of The Blacklist. Over the course of its season, it will visit different time periods in the world’s history to chase down Garcia Flynn (Goran Višnjić), who hops in his time machine with the goal of altering history’s major events and changing the course of the world. Tasked with getting in their own time machine and stopping Flynn – without changing history – are Lucy, a history professor (Abigail Spencer), a soldier named Wyatt to be her body man (Matt Lanter), and Rufus, an engineer. But every time they go back in time, something changes about their present, including some major losses.
Timeless is positing a very interesting question that couldn’t be called original, but is never anything less than provocative: If you could go back and prevent a tragedy, would you do it? Especially if averting that tragedy might have affected the world in a positive way? After viewing the second episode, “The Assassination of President Lincoln,” you realize it’s a question that carries a ton of philosophical and moral weight in addition to historical, political, economical weight.
Lucy is faced with the opportunity to prevent the death of Abraham Lincoln, which took place just as the Civil War ended and slavery was abolished. But right after Lincoln was dead, it seemed as it the progress that had been made was suddenly and jarringly aborted. What followed in the next century was segregation, struggle, the continuation of institutionalized racism, all leading up to our current charged environment. It sure as heck seems like something we should want to change for the sake of an entire portion of our population. But letting Lincoln survive wouldn’t just change racial relations in America; this was a presidency. Presidencies affect the entire globe. What plans did Lincoln have that never came to pass that he could have accomplished? Would he have been elected to another term? How would the presidential succession have played out?
The possibilities snowball in that large context, but in the smaller context, our lead characters, the effects are obvious. For Rufus, who is black, he wants to take that plunge and shift the country in what he believes will be better for every black American. Maybe he’d be right, but considering how much could change in addition to race relations, his request is not ignored, but is met with some resistance. Lucy is adamantly resistant to changing even the most tragic events because after altering the Hindenberg disaster in the pilot, she lost her sister and uncovered a family secret.
As far as Flynn goes, it’s hard to tell why he’s going through all this trouble as of the second episode. Assuming we learn more, Flynn is clearly the hero of his own story and there’s a reason he’s trying to change everything about history. What does he know? More than we do, and more than the actor who plays him, as we learned from the panel.
Is Timeless good enough to make us all want to come back and keep finding out? In my opinion, it is. I think that when it comes to shows like Timeless, in a TV landscape that includes some of the most prestige programming across a variety of platforms, expectations need to be adjusted. Timeless is not Breaking Bad, Mr. Robot, or even Doctor Who. But it’s fun! It has humor, it has adventure, it has history, and the cast seems to be having a great time. We don’t need every show to be the best show – we just need them to be entertaining, and Timeless definitely is.