Timeless s1 ep 1

As I’ve said before, I really can’t be doing with storylines about travelling in time, any more than I can be bothered with dream sequences: all of that plot-holed changing-the-past-to-change-the-future nonsense. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at NBC’s time-travel drama Timeless. An armed gang led by Garcia Flynn (Goran Višnjić), a former NSA asset in East Europe who killed his wife and child then went rogue (except he probably didn’t do any of these things), storm a building owned by zillionaire Connor Mason (Paterson Joseph), steal a time machine, and disappear into the past.

Fortunately, Mason has a prototype time machine tucked away somewhere, and Homeland Security immediately rounds up a team to go after Flynn, assembled along the same gender and racial lines as The Thompson Twins, the 80s pop group: reputedly brilliant but still untenured history professor Lucy Preston (Abigail Spencer); Delta Force soldier and Secret Pain-possessing Wyatt Logan (Matt Lanter); and Rufus Carlin (Malcolm Barrett), a programmer from Mason’s company. Pleasingly, the show doesn’t allow them to spend too much time agonising about whether or not to participate; they just get on with it.

And so to May 1937, where – as the cold open has already implied – the Case of the Week centres on the Hindenburg disaster. Flynn manages to prevent the airship from crashing and burning, although it seems as if his motive is simply to delay the explosion until the following day, when the Hindenburg will be laden with passengers, some of historical significance, travelling from America to Europe. The bomb he plants has an LED countdown on it, so that anyone planning to defuse it will know exactly how long he’s got to do it, which is handy.

I must admit that I expected the Thompson Twins to find a way of restoring history to its original state. That they fail to do so, thus altering Lucy’s 2016 reality in some fairly hefty ways, suggests that this show is aiming a little higher than it otherwise might.

Which is to say that I enjoyed Timeless. It’s complete nonsense, of course – as well as Secret Pain and the LED timer there’s a Mysterious Word – but to its credit the show repeatedly takes the opportunity to find humour of the very pointed kind in respect of the problems encountered by someone of Rufus’s race (he’s African American): “There’s literally no place in American history that’ll be awesome for me”, he observes when told that he’ll be going back in time; then, after he, Lucy, and Wyatt catch a bus in 1937, he reminds us on disembarking that “the back of the bus was amazing”. Spencer, Lanter, and Barrett are all attractive screen presences, and I’m guessing that in due course we’ll be expected to ship Lyatt, which I for one am already prepared to sign up to.

And there’s clearly very much more to Flynn than meets the eye; rather than the gleeful mien of a master criminal turning history upside down, he has the grim countenance of someone doing what needs to be done. With big business and the government both available as potential villains, it seems reasonable to speculate that Flynn is more sinned against.

Next week: the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. I don’t see how I can possibly resist.

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5 thoughts on “Timeless s1 ep 1

  1. Kay20 December 17, 2016 / 2:49 am

    I liked the second episode even better than the first. This one is a keeper.

  2. Snoskred December 17, 2016 / 5:32 am

    I have not seen this yet. Might add it to the queue just because of Abigail Spencer. I loved her on Rectify. 🙂 And of course who does not love Goran?

  3. e December 18, 2016 / 12:11 am

    There’s Travelers (which I’ve watched through gritted teeth), Frequency (which I’ve watched through my fingers, from the horror of the show, not the horror *in* the show), and this, which I gave one episode. Wrong choice, right?

  4. CJ Cregg January 17, 2017 / 10:37 pm

    I’ve only seen this one ep so far – I thought it was all right and I liked it well enough, but I’m not sure I’d put it higher than that. I did really like all three team members, which is unusual for this type of show, and I thought both they and Goran were very good. And I too would be quite happy to ship Lyatt. But about halfway through, I got an overwhelming sense of “this is fine, but I can’t be bothered with weeks of folk saying they can’t mess around with the timeline then messing around with it anyway,” so much as I liked the cast, I’m in no hurry to watch again just now.

    • Jed Bartlet January 19, 2017 / 12:08 am

      Fair enough. I don’t think I can honestly claim that it’s going to change your life.

      I’ll keep you up to date in respect of Lyatt, in case you feel like dipping in again.

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