Timeless Pilot (2016) NBC Review
Time travel seems to be making a surge in the world of entertainment. ABC has a midseason premiere involving it. CW already has their version of the concept with Legends of Tomorrow, and of course, we all know about Doctor Who. But then this isn’t surprising. Where one leads, many others will follow. NBC’s version premiered last month. Here’s what it’s about.
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With her personal life in shambles, Lucy Preston (Abigail Spencer) needs one thing in her life to be uncomplicated. She finds this teaching in the department her mother founded and fostered. But then she learns that her tenure is being revoked leaving her to question the one place she felt in control. Next thing she knows, her life spirals towards crazy when Lucy is summoned by Homeland. It would seem her unique knowledge as a historian is required.
Until Lucy sees with her own eyes what they are proposing, she doesn’t believe in the possibility of time travel. But a machine capable of it sits before her, and a story about a villain who must be stopped. On this mission (to 1937, the day of the Hindenburg crash) Lucy is one third of an unlikely trio. Also joining her are Wyatt Logan (Matt Lanter), a soldier with scars, and Rufus Carlan (Malcom Barrett), a coder struggling with where his loyalties are.
As the promo spots played for this one during the Olympics, I think my impression of it was that it’d be a lighthearted, almost “silly” bit of frothy time travel fun. In many ways, it is this, but I think the serious side this script has is not to be underestimated. From the start, the fact that the story is confronting such an interesting time in history is not to be brushed aside. Part of the pull (for me as a viewer) is the setting since I’ve become curious about the 30s and 40s.
Inside this time-travelling world lies a fascinating premise. Since I started this review, I watched a second episode and feel confident in saying, Timeless might be one of my new favorites! The plotting is what’s going to keep me glued to the screen. Episode one visits the 1940s, while the follow up travels further back to the Civil War and the sad events of Lincoln’s assassination. Interestingly, this isn’t just a “drama” driven by entertainment purposes. This one also wrestles with some interesting questions that, for this girl, stirs some complex think and compelling “what if” questions.
Beyond this, the “fun” of the trips into yesteryear are what makes this series golden. The costumes, the adventure of it all, and Lucy’s hilarious this-isn’t-right protests meld to make wonderful television. It’s the kind of show that pulls you into the story quickly because, in a sense it’s like a story inside of a story. Everyone has to “become” someone else (unseen heroes) while also trying to find normalcy in their daily lives. In particular, I’m curious to see what happens in Lucy’s life (the writer’s turn her world upside down following her first time travel experience) and most fervently do I hope Wyatt’s story doesn’t veer where I fear it will.
The chemistry between Wyatt and Lucy is “surface” fun, but there is more simmering beneath that playful flirtation that I look forward to discovering. Also, I cannot say more for fear of spoiling you, but let’s just say Lucy discovers a person in her life that I’m also curious about. I suspect, depending on the audience’s reaction, this person will either play a greater role in future or be written off altogether. Beyond this, Rufus’ character has a secret that weighs on him, which is something I suspect we’ll learn more about as the series furthers.