TV Series Review
Got the time?
Lucy, Wyatt and Rufus have plenty of it—and not nearly enough. Or maybe they've just got the wrong sort of time. Or could the time be right, but the circumstances wrong?
Stories involving time travel can get convoluted. So many potential paths, so many opportunities to miss, so many of parallel existences on which to speculate. And Timeless, NBC's silly new swashbuckler, is all about second guesses.
Second? Get it? That's a little time-travel humor there.
If I Could Save Time in a Weird Ship
The trouble began (or ended?) with wealthy genius Connor Mason's time machine. Alas, his nifty new invention was pilfered by a guy named Garcia Flynn, a criminal mastermind who's determined to change history.
Why? Who knows? Perhaps it has something to do with his wife and daughter, whom he's accused of murdering. Perhaps he hopes to make a less literal killing in a revamped stock market. Perhaps he failed American history in high school and, instead of moving on, he's determined to retroactively change his test scores by changing history itself. Or maybe Flynn doesn't even know why he does what he does, and so he's gone into the distant past in search of a motive. Really, anything's possible.
But perhaps it doesn't matter why Flynn wants to change history. Because, really, it's our history. We've grown attached to it. And changing it can be a bad, bad thing. We certainly don't want Flynn making everything a whole lot worse, do we?
Thankfully, Connor has a spare time machine on hand—a prototype that functions reasonably well and almost always goes where it's supposed to. Connor, with strong encouragement from the National Security Agency, is now sending a crack team off into America's past to stop Flynn and, if possible, clean his clock.
Lucy serves as the crew's in-flight historian. She's been tasked with figuring out what Flynn's trying to do and making sure that her two cohorts don't make a lot of out-of-place references to Pokémon Go. Wyatt Logan, a Delta Force operative, is the team's muscle. He's also still grieving his dead wife, Jessica. Rufus is ostensibly the time machine's pilot. But he's uncomfortable with these time-traipsing missions. First, he's not really a pilot at all, but a coder. Second, Connor is forcing him to record Lucy and Wyatt's adventures—reporting all the details to some shadowy, untoward force. And third … well, Rufus is black: "There's literally no place in American history that would be awesome for me," he reminds Connor.
Yes, that would be uncomfortable … on the face of it.
Get it? Face? Clock? Oh, never mind.
It's All About the Minute Details
"Maybe we don't get to make it up as we go," Lucy speculates. "Maybe some things are just …"
"What?" Wyatt asks, thinking about his dead wife. "Fate?"
Timeless circles back to this intellectual, philosophical quandary again and again … asking viewers what they would change about their own histories if given a chance. And perhaps more importantly, whether they should.
Lucy is the first character to really deal with the consequences of mucking around in the past: After their very first mission, Lucy returns home to find her terminally ill mother as fit as a fiddle! On the downside, though, her sister has completely vanished. I'm sure Marty McFly would sympathize.
But while Timeless may deal with the complex messes inherent in time travel, it does so in a light, frothy way. Sure, you may learn a little something about real history in the process (like the fact that Abraham Lincoln's son was saved by the brother of John Wilkes Booth), but the show doesn't take itself too seriously. It feels a little like The A-Team with a serious chronological impediment.
Alas, if Timeless is a throwback to the 1980s' team-oriented capers, the content here has a new millennium's worth of problems.
The violence is not particularly gruesome, but it is disturbingly common. Lots of people die (presumably spoiling the futures of scads of kids and grandkids). Others are seriously hurt. Blood is just as easily shed in 1776 as in 1865 as in 1937.
There are plenty of sexual allusions, too—jokily suggestive and, at times, titillating. The hard-drinking days of yesteryear mingle with a more contemporary liberal use of profanity, giving us a strange, century-jumping stew of issues to deal with.
Timeless is often light, sometimes fun and has just enough problems to give many discerning families pause. Your time might be better spent elsewhere.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Abigail Spencer as Lucy Preston; Matt Lanter as Wyatt Logan, US Army Delta Force; Malcolm Barrett as Rufus Carlin; Sakina Jaffrey as Agent Denise Christopher; Paterson Joseph as Mason Lark; Goran Visnjic as Garcia Flynn