Cult TV

Timeless – Ep1: Pilot (The Hindenburg)

When I found out a new time travel show was coming out I was part excited and part scared. With all the shows like Doctor Who, The Time Tunnel, Life on Mars, 7 Days, Quantum Leap, The Girl From Tomorrow, Goodnight, Sweetheart and Sliders there have also been some stinkers and some shows that never got to finish what they started. Was this new show worth investing in? What cliché would be involved this time? Would it last a season? Will the network interfere? Looking further I found it was being created by Eric Kripke (Supernatural, Revoltion) and Shawn Ryan (The Shield, The Chicago Code, Last Resort) so there was some hope.

As the show opens, our villain Garcia Flynn (Goran Višnjić – ER, Elektra, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is leading a  a siege into some sort of scientific facility owned by a man names Connor Mason (Paterson Joseph – Peep Show, Neverwhere, You, Me and the Apocalypse). His group then enter a machine and it vanishes – Flynn is going back and changing history; he begins by stopping the Hindenburg from exploding – which on paper sounds like a good deed but it turns out he only saved it so he could blow it up on its return journey when it would contain historically important figures like John D. Rockefeller Jr. who would start the forerunner of the UN, the League of Nations.

We then meet Lucy Preston (Abigail Spencer from Cowboys & Aliens, The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia, Oz the Great and Powerful , Mad Men) who is apparently the greatest history teacher in history. She discovers she may not get tenure despite her mother Carol (Susanna Thompson – Arrow, NCIS, Once and Again, Star Trek: Voyager) building the department and then stomps off home to her sister Amy (Bailey Noble – True Blood) and her mother who is terminally ill.

Lucy is then called in by the government because well…… she is the best history teacher in history or perhaps maybe another reason we are yet to know and is partnered with Master Sergeant Wyatt Logan from the US Army Delta Force (Matt Lanter – 90210,  Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Disaster Movie, Sorority Row, Vampires Suck and The Roommate). Lucy and Logan are joined by Rufus Carlin (Malcolm Barrett – The Hurt Locker, Better Off Ted, Zombie Murder Explosion Die!, Gentlemen Lobsters) a coder for Connor Mason’s time travel program who will “fly” the backup prototype machine, known as the “lifeboat” on their mission to follow Flynn back to New Jersey, May 6 1937.

Whilst Lucy and Logan are the main heroes, it is Rufus who steals the episode. His line about being a black man and no part of America’s history being a good place for him to be adds a dimension to time travel shows that has rarely been explored. Hopefully this will continue in further episodes. One important rule for the series is also set out by Rufus – time travellers cannot meet themselves – a rule I’m sure will be tested in future episodes.

So our heroes travel back to stop Flynn’s plans to change history and whilst I will not spoil it all here, they pack a lot into one episode. One notable is not uncomfortable scene takes place in a New Jersey bar in 1937 where Rufus is not welcome because of his skin colour, all whilst Billie Holliday blasts out of the jukebox. Not nice to see at all but very brave to show on a network TV show.

Once the mission is complete our heroes travel back to the present. Now before the mission, Agent Denise Christopher (Sakina Jaffrey – House of Cards, Sleepy Hollow, Mr Robot) warns Lucy that the team must change nothing but when Lucy arrives back home her mother is in the kitchen cooking dinner no longer terminally ill and her sister Amy does not exists at all!

As I mentioned Timeless packs a lot into one episode, I have barely scratched the surface here but it definitely has potential to become a big player in the cult TV arena. There are so many threads that have been set out in the pilot episode that I’m sure will lead to big payoffs as the show progresses. This is a show that is great coming out the gates and I hope it continues to gain momentum. It is fun, intriguing and occasionally shocking and something you need to set to record in your TV planners.

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