Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show — here Timeless — in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.
The Pedigree: The show was created and written by Eric Kripke (Supernatural) and Shawn Ryan (The Shield), who executive produce with John Davis and John Fox of The Blacklist as well as Marney Hochman (Terriers). Neil Marshall (Game of Thrones) directed and executive produced the pilot.
The Cast & How You Know Them: Timeless stars Abigail Spencer (Rectify), Matt Lanter (90210), Malcolm Barrett (Better Off Ted), Goran Visnjic (ER), Paterson Joseph (The Leftovers), Sakina Jaffrey (House of Cards), and Claudia Doumit (Scandal).
The Premise: After a criminal steals a time machine to destroy America by messing up the past, a team is sent to various points of history to try to stop him.
What Works: This is exactly the kind of silly fun TV I like – time travel! History! Pretty clothes! Conspiracies! I’m happy to see an ambitious female academic as a protagonist, and Abigail Spencer especially does a great job here (as usual). I was also very relieved to find out that — at least so far — they’re not looking at history through overly rose-colored glasses; there was time spent on how the black member of the team was treated in 1937, and I hope that continues in future episodes in regards to women, minorities, and other marginalized groups.
What Doesn’t: This show is pretty silly — which can be good or bad, depending on your point of view — and it probably doesn’t bear up to too much analysis. You’ll probably need to turn off the part of your brain that cares about history and/or the rules of time travel, and that will bug some viewers more than others. (I am looking forward to yelling at my TV about history stuff, but I enjoy that sort of thing.) The least fun part was probably the ongoing argument between characters over whether to do things that might change the present — that was already getting old in this first episode.
Our Favorite Line: “I am black. There is literally no place in American history that will be awesome for me.”
You Might Like This if you like shows dealing with sci-fi and history and don’t take either one too seriously. The concept is sort of similar to DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, except without the superheroes.
(Photo courtesy of NBC.)