I didn’t think I’d be so into the 2016 Rio Olympics, but as it was, I ended up watching it for literal hours every day, enchanted by the gymnastics and the diving and the soccer and everything in between. That’s why I ended up seeing a commercial for a new fall show of NBC’s called Timeless countless times per hour. Since I like science fiction, I finally went and looked up some information on the show and found out that it’s co-created by Eric Kripke, who created Supernatural but left before it jumped the shark several times over, and it has a cast including Sakina Jaffrey from Sleepy Hollow. That all means that the show should be good, right? Well… not so much.
Timeless appears to be about Lucy, a history professor who’s called upon to help a soldier, Wyatt, and a scientist/pilot, Rufus, stop a criminal with a time machine from changing history forever. Said criminal, Garcia Flynn, seems to know Lucy, though—from the future. We don’t really get many details other than that; we only see the trio travel back in time to the Hindenburg disaster, but in some other trailers we see Flynn saving the Hindenburg, so I assume he has some sort of master plan that might not, for once, include destroying the world. I love the idea of time travel and time shenanigans, but nothing about the plot is really jumping out at me right now. Time travel is a very common element in science fiction, but the show appears to have a lot of similarities to a Spanish television program called El ministerio del tiempo (The Ministry of Time), so I hope the producers of the show have a clearer handle on their plot than their trailer would imply and aren’t just plagiarizing off of someone else’s work.
Timeless does offer us another female protagonist and a main Black character (as well as some side characters of color), so it’s already better than anything Kripke’s other show, Supernatural, has ever offered. Unfortunately, we have had so many Strong White Female Protagonists in movies and television that I’m only a little excited about the fact that Lucy is a bookish history nerd. Swap some professions around and it feels as if I already know her story. Her colleague, soldier Wyatt, has a dead wife who I assume was fridged for his manpain, so I definitely know his story. And if there’s a love triangle between Wyatt, Flynn, and Lucy, well, been there, done that.
All the characters read as a little boring, and I’m concerned that the Black member of the team might literally just be there to Be Black. Timeless seems willing to engage in some racial discussion, with Rufus saying that he literally can’t go back to any time in history because he’s Black, and talking back to a white police officer because the team’s been detained and he’s been put in a separate cell for Black people. These are all true and realistic conflicts, especially since the Hindenburg was in 1937, but if your main Black character of note doesn’t have any personality aside from Being Black, that’s not really a boon to the show. Hopefully Timeless will engage more organically with race if the show continues.
Timeless will start airing on NBC on October 3rd, and as it’s a science fiction show on NBC, it might not last very long. If it sounds interesting to you, I’d check it out while you still can!
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