I confess up front — I’m a complete sucker for time travel shows. Within Star Trek, Quantum Leap, anything really. If time travel is involved, I’m probably watching. What do I want? Time travel! When do I want it? Irrelevant!
So when I saw there was a new time travel show called Timeless, I was good to go before the screen even filled in the first pixel. Which is not to say I’m not nervous…you can really end up with bad shows about time travel. (Time Bandits, I’m talking to you!).
And if you see Abigail Spencer in the trailers as the lead “historian” (they always want a historian), you might think, “Hey, she looks like the chick from Sliders!” And she kind of does. But Spencer always sparkles. She was fantastic on Suits as Scotty, even with the limited role for her. I liked her when she guested on How I Met Your Mother, The Glades and Castle (I really liked her on Castle). I even vaguely remember her from Angela’s Eyes back in the day, and that’s saying something. So despite her fish out of water, bopping around time, wide-eyed innocent doe role, I was excited to see her in a full show.
Her sidekick in crime time is played by Matt Lanter. He seems familiar to me, but the only thing I’ve really seen him in is the original Heroes, but that’s not where I remember him from. I think they’ve just got him done up as generic soldier boy #27 and so he looks like other actors. Good, not awesome.
And they need a techie, with the chance to make him black and give them some plot points for time travel (or as his character puts it, there is no point in American history that is going to be good for him as a black man). Again, good, but not awesome.
And the story for the pilot is kind of weak. ** spoiler alert ** Terrorist steals time machine, goes back to Hindenburg, and stops it from exploding. Sort of. Actually he wants a bunch of industrialists to get on board for the outbound flight and then he intends to bomb it. So it will still explode, just not in the original way. The team goes back to stop it, bungles it initially, and the Hindenburg lands safely. When it goes to take off again, they have to stop the bomb. Which they don’t do very well, but they do save almost all the passengers.
The show has established the basic ground rules:
- Super genius invented machine, it’s a prototype;
- It uses gravitational power to force time to fold back on itself momentarily to allow the machine to cross between times;
- You cannot go back in time to any point you have already lived through, for fear of “doubling” yourself;
- Ergo, you can’t do the same time event more than once either.
- Change one thing, butterflies ripple throughout history.
It’s the last one that is the cool part here. Frequently, the focus in time shows (Star Trek, Time Cop) is entirely on “I stopped things from changing and therefore everything back home is the same”. And when the team returns semi-successful, some small things have changed, but it looks relatively the same. Put a checkmark in the win column for now.
Until Spencer’s character, Lucy, gets home to her house and finds out that her Mom isn’t dying of cancer anymore (good), Lucy’s engaged to someone (who?), and oh yeah, her sister doesn’t exist (oops).
It will be interesting to see if they “correct” those anomalies, or they accumulate more and more anomalies towards almost an alternate timeline. One that only the time-traveling three will know is different.
Weak episode, but it’s time travel. I’m still in.